Sunday, November 13, 2011

Best Fort Wayne: Rollerdoming

The clothes, the phones, the music say 2011 ...
the sound of skates on wood, the hokey-pokey, kids having fun -- timeless.
I believe in convergence and serendipity.
This weekend, I am reading Stephen King's new book, '11/22/63,' set in present day ... and 1958. I turned 3 late in 1958, so my memories of that year are other people's, like my mom's, or otherwise acquired by study, reading, TV, pop culture (and Happy Days, ack).
Stephen King -- seven years older than me -- would have slightly better memories; he's better at research, too (well, let's face it, he's better at a LOT of stuff), so this book rather a primer for us on 1958s Americana. And so vivid that you can almost smell the cigarette smoke, taste the root beer, hear the music.
(Well, wait. I actually did hear the music yesterday during lunch at Culvers, which seems to be stuck near a time portal similar to that in King's book.)
Somewhere I didn't hear the music, but did step into a '50s vibe  -- Rollerdome North. Even in 2011, a new 8-year-old thinks a rollerskating party is a cool thing to do.
Not that the Rollerdome is stuck in the past -- oh, the kids are doing the hokey-pokey and turning it all about once a session -- but mostly it's all music from this century, nice and loud, and sharing that thumping bass beat with its rock roots.
Once upon a time, I wrote a story for Business People magazine about floating wood flooring -- for places like gyms and roller rinks. So I spent an hour or so with a member of the owners, the Wall family, learning just enough to be able to write a feature about that part of their business. It seems they still sell floors.
But they also sell rollerskating, and if the kids are different now in some ways -- in fashion, haircuts, electronics, attitude -- on a Sunday afternoon in the dusky, ear-splitting rink, I bet Mrs. Wall, who still takes sells your ticket and buzzes you in, and later thanks you as she hands you a flyer as you leave, would find more similarities than not.
Even the skates, which seems to have morphed from rollerblades back to four-wheeled toe-stoppers, have gone retro. So when you look out into the rink, there's no need for an Instagram filter, for it's all there: the muffled roar and slap of skates on wood, the confetti light from the disco ball, the bass tattoo, the graceful swoop of a skating pro, the tumbling step of a little kid, the giggling, squealing girls, the rough-housing boys. The D.J. in the corner, like a beneficent Oz, queuing up music, directing traffic, granting birthday wishes, ushering one session out and another in. Even as the Rollerdome has ushered several generations in -- and out, and back again.
I think King is onto something; the past is no farther away than a step and swoop into the 'Dome.
Special bonus link: Who knew that one of the Wall kids -- Kevin -- 'is a producer, digital entrepreneur and environmentalist who creates and produces global events often viewed by a billion or more people '? More here.

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