Monday, December 31, 2007

Roller Dome South

Roller Dome South
4540 Bluffton Road
Fort Wayne, IN 46809
(260) 747-3919
Photo Credit:
Roller Dome South Web Site

I can't recall exactly, the first time, that I stepped foot into the Roller Dome. I think I was ten or maybe eleven. Growing up on the Southwest side of Fort Wayne, the Roller Dome was like "the" place to go on Fridays and Saturdays. So many times, my sister and I would stand outside, in the freezing weather, waiting in line, just to get in. There was always a crowd. ALWAYS.

The picture above - well - if that's really what it looks like today (from the outside), then it hasn't changed a bit! Just inside the door was a lobby area where you would stand in line to pay admittance. Gosh - $1.25 sounds right - but I could be wrong on that one. It seemed like forever to get up front and pay to get in. I remember staring down at the ugly carpet (I think it was red) and then staring at the information board which was located in the upper left hand corner of the room. It listed open/close time, prices, when the next all night skate was scheduled, etc...

One exciting thing about standing in line (either freezing - outside - or freezing inside the lobby) was that you could hear the music booming from the rink area. The bass on whatever they played - literally - shook the entire building. Today, that might make me afraid :) but back then, it just made me want to skate MORE.

My sister and I didn't own roller skates - we always rented ours. I wore a size 8. The skates were a flat-mud-brown color with black wheels and a black stopper (that thing in the front you were supposed to use when you wanted to stop yourself from skating).

The wood floors upon which you did your skating - they were always clean. Note: this is the mother in me coming out. I never had a fear of tripping over random trash because the general population seemed to be hypersensitive about anything ruining their skating time. You see - the Roller Dome actually limited your skate time. When you purchased a ticked for admittance, it was usually for a two-three hour period of time.

No one "taught" me to roller skate. It was a privilege to just pick it up on my own. I was proud when I mastered (okay - could do) turning corners. Before I could turn corners, I would just drift around them :).

Songs I can remember skating to:

The Rubberband Man - the Spinners
Le Freak - Chic
Play That Funky Music - Wild Cherry
Boogie Oogie Oogie - A Taste Of Honey
Brick House - Commodores
Turn The Beat Around - Vicki Sue Robinson
Boogie Fever - The Sylvers
The Candy Man - Sammy Davis, Jr.
Rockin' Robin - Michael Jackson

And THEN - the slow songs. Man! There was a lot of pressure. Would someone ask me to skate? Sometimes it happened. More than not - it didn't. I was a tall, thin, geeky girl with glasses and mousy brown hair.

Three Times A Lady - Commodores
Precious and Few - Climax
Colour My World - Chicago
If You Leave Me Now - Chicago
Beth - Kiss
Let's Stay Together - Al Green

Note: no major girl crushes involved in the roller skating/Roller Dome set of memories. Of course maybe you wouldn't expect a 9/10/11 year old to go there but later on, maybe I'll tell you about Tiena Spears and Bobby Braun (4th grade - "going steady").

So here's a picture of the concession stand. The scary thing is that it looks exactly the same! I don't even think they've rearranged anything.

We were pretty poor so I didn't eat at the concession stand unless I was there for the all-night skate. Then, when you purchased a ticket for admittance, you also received a coupon for a hot dog and a soft drink.


There wasn't a lot of trouble at "the Dome". The biggest issues had to do with the d.j. or the "official" floor skaters, busting people for thinks for a moment...what's the words??? Can't find them (definitely a sign of old age), but it was when more than two people were skating in a line and whizzing around the rink. The third person in this skate line always got busted. Getting busted meant you had to sit out for 'x' number of songs.

I was never cool enough to be in a skate line. Even if I was, I probably would have fallen on my butt. All of those people were much better skaters...

My time with "the Dome" was cut short by my parents split.


kris said...

I've been associated with the Roller Dome South for over 30 years. It was nice to read an account from someone so excited and respectful of their experience. Thanks for sharing.

denise said...

Kristina--I think I pre-date your Roller Dome experience by about a decade (according to the music selections) but I had the same experience. It was a safe place and "totally cool". I look forward to your posts because the list of places you're looking for photos from set off memories like firecrackers on a string. Good luck w/ your blog.

Bobby G. said...

Even though I'm originally from Philly, we DID have skating places back there like the Boulevard RollerRink (my buddy was one of those "skate guards", and man, could he sail)!
And those songs...well, we skated to them one night, and danced to them on another!

We used to call that LINE you refer to (in Philly anyway) as "Cracking the Whip", and the last person in that line was always fly-ing!!!

(still have my skates..nice paperweights that they are)

Wonder how many of us would even consider skating NOW for fear of breaking something we might need later this week...LOL!

Nice to know that no matter where we all grew up, we shared similar experiences.

And a Happy New Year to all!


Pattycake1102 said...

This is the you remember the middle of the actual skating rink where you could go and practice skating backwards, forwards, and maybe learning to stop? While there was actual real skaters there trying to practice "tricks"? And how about the speed skate contest. I always did that. I thought of myself has the "disco skate queen." I do remember you wanting to hang out near the dj...yep that's right. I was always curious why people hung out in the furthest corner or the rink (ya know, the dark spot), now I know!

UDntNo said...

Oh my the flooding of memories... I was "Domer" (one who skated at the Roller Dome at least once a week, if not 2-3 times a week for YEARS) The first time I went, I was about 12yo. I went to the north location until I was about 14yo when I moved out by Elmhurst HS. I remember "Sonny" the guy who pasted out the skates if you did not have your own. The song I remember skating to the most was:
Proof of how small the world really is... I was stationed in Berlin, Germany in the late 80's and one of my Dome friends from the North location was married to a guy in my unit... Imagine seeing a familiar face thousands of mile away in an unknown land.

Thank you for the flash back!!!

Anonymous said...

I remember having the time of my life at the Roller Some South. The Phillips boys it seemed like the best skaters ever. I remember the music, the all night skates and lots of fun. I now live in WV and miss Fort Wayne. I come home about once a year and cruise around just remembering all the fun and good times I had there.

Mike Marquart said...

My Brother & I used to go every weekend back in 1970-71 when it was called Palms roller rink. "Groovy situation" by Gene Chandler & "Gypsy Woman" by Brian Hyland were the most played songs at that time. I loved going there & was a pretty good skater. I'd be lucky to stand up on skates now.