Welcome Back Roller City!
A strange and wonderful happening is taking place out in Lakewood – a west side suburb of Denver (do we still use the word ‘suburb”?) At any rate – I have posted previously a photo of the Veteran’s Thrift store on West Alameda.
Had been going there for several years until last year when suddenly it closed it’s doors. No surprise – ARC Stores can’t be competed with – not even by Goodwill Industries. But at any rate I realized some time back that the thrift store was occupying the former building which was “Roller City” – an extremely popular teen hangout in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s – especially on Saturday nights when a local DJ would provide the music and the commentary with the evening of skating culminating in a sock hop (literally a sock hop because that was the requirement to step out onto the skating surface after removing the skates).
I always suspected that the skate surface was slumbering away beneath the false floor substructure at the thrift store and I was almost right.
Lo and behold Roller City is BACK! (From their web site:)
“For over 21 years, the facility was used as a thrift store, before being purchased by a local fan of the original facility, Bry Duncan, who is bringing your favorite rink back to you! As a frequent attendee of the original Roller City West, and a valued friend of the original owners, he is here to bring you the Roller City you love and remember with a brand new facility.
Welcome back home!”
And so I visited Roller city last night (May 2nd, 2018) and was delighted to witness the nostalgic return of an old friend. Inside I met the entrepreneur and owner Bry Duncan. I was surprised at his relatively young age – I was expecting an old codger – but no – Bry is a young man and an industrious one at that. “I’ve only had two jobs during my life,” explained the Lakewood native (he attended Alameda High School). “I worked in a skating rink as a teen” (actually working for the man who built Roller City) “and as a telecommunications specialist for 20 years.”
Now the revamped Roller City, located at 6803 West Alameda – side street Pierce – is his full-time passion. Bry opened the rink on March 17th of this year and he tells us, “Things are going pretty good so far!” The rink is a perfect gathering place for groups. They have already held school fundraisers (schools receive a percentage of the admission fee plus a great time), and other special events. Roller City was sadly closed back in 1996 and all of the skates were put away.
Luckily, the building was not scraped making this rebirth possible (you may recall that the short lived “Rugged Room” was just to the east where Home Depot now sits).
“Friday and Saturday nights are our big ones,” Bry explains, “We get several hundred people in here” he tells us. Families, kids, older folks who are reminiscing – all age groups are finding a great new venue to test out the old roller skate skills or pick them up for the first time.
Roller City is equipped with a great sound system as well as festive lighting throughout and DJ Pod where Roller City employees program the songs or break out the vinyl using turntables as well. All of the employees are accomplished skaters and they spontaneously jump onto the rink to strut their stuff.
The facility is very well designed to accommodate parties and events with a snack bar – modern game room – and an adjacent picnic area where groups can congregate to eat or to conduct the administrative part of their event. Recently an entire school turned out for a fund raiser filling the roller rink!
I asked Bry about the dormant floor beneath the thrift store floor and he surprised when he told me that if I had entered the store – then I was standing on it! “It was in rough shape from lots of abusive wear and tear”, he told me. So with a lot of creativity and hard work the surface was revived to the high standard the Bry had to have. I met several members/employees of the Roller City family team – All very friendly and helpful – and boy can they skate! In-line skates seems to be the choice of the accomplished skaters. Angelo told me they have lots of fun with the skaters – bantering over the sound system – conducting specials like couples only – ladies choice – the limbo – sound familiar?
Roller City is a beauty and if you are a west Denver native like me and a Baby Boomer who frequented the rink back in the late 1950’s and 1960’s – you must prepare yourself for a very satisfying trip down memory lane.
Do yourself a favor – Call some friends – Gather up some family, and come out to Roller City on an “open skating” night. Lace up the skates – hit the rink floor – ask the DJ to play something by Bill Black’s Combo – maybe “Smokie Part 1” or “Don’t Be Cruel” or “White Silver Sands” – or Dave Baby Cortez’s “Rinky Dink” – and say ‘welcome back’ to a dear old friend!
Bry Duncan – A Labor of Love!
Visit the Roller City Web Site (I almost said the “new Roller City web site” – how silly of me) Click on the image below