Roller disco dancing in NYC
Outdoor weekend roller discos are back at Central Park’s Skate Circle. (Bob Nichols)
The return of spring temperatures to New York City means outdoor weekend roller discos are back at Central Park’s Skate Circle.
For the next six months, anyone comfortable on wheels can join (or watch) the Central Park Dance Skaters twirling, grapevining and displaying ankle bone-defying footwork around a 150ft stretch of dead-end road that serves as the makeshift rink.
Whether you’re lacing up or just observing from the sidelines, be prepared to boogie down. A rotating line-up of DJs provides the flavour for the four-hour afternoon jams, with a solid stream of house, funk, R&B or anything else with a good groove.
Indeed, the tunes are essential to the event, which was founded in 1995 after a ban on amplified music temporarily put an end to the dance skate gatherings in the park – a fixture going back to the late 1970s. While an agreement was being reached with the New York City Parks Department to bring sound systems back, a dedicated group of skaters maintained their weekly ritual – silent-rave style – all wearing headphones tuned to the same radio station.
The Skate Circle, located east of Sheep Meadow and west of the Naumburg Bandshell and the Mall, is a bring-your-own-skates affair. Starting 5 May, however, The Skate Truck NYC, a mobile skate-rental operation, will set up shop nearby two weekends a month. Traditional skates and rollerblades – 150 pairs total – are available, and protective gear and a five-minute lesson are included in rental prices (private lessons can also be scheduled).
If you’re new to skating or feel a little wobbly, lessons or practicing on your own is recommended, because as Bob Nichols, president of Central Park Dance Skaters Association (CPDSA), pointed out, there are no walls to cling to at the Skate Circle. “Know the basics – how to skate forward, turn, stop and slow down,” he advised. “Skaters are friendly. They’ll help you out.”
The roller discos take place on Saturdays and Sundays through October from 2:45 pm to 6:45 pm, weather and park scheduling permitting. Up-to-date details can be found at the CPDSA website.
Amy Brader is the New York City Localite for BBC Travel