’80s Icon: The Skating Rink

As most of you probably know, I’m a proud ’80s baby. I spend entirely too much time and brainpower thinking on the good old days, when life was simpler and colors were always neon.

I’m starting a new series called ’80s Icons, where I reminisce about those things that made the 1980s so great. These icons aren’t necessarily people, mind you (Ronald Reagan? Playa please). Still, they helped define a decade. Ready to step into the time machine with me?

Photo courtesy of theamericanroadside via Flickr

I often ask the pre-teens and teens I mentor what they most look forward to about adulthood and they almost always say “going to the club.”

We need to do better.

I’m quick to tell them that the club is noisy, cramped, overpriced and overrated. Plus, who needs the club when you had the skating rink?

The skating rink was the ultimate hangout for an ’80s kid. Food, fun and of course, good music.

For some reason, skating rinks almost always popped up in the shadier parts of town. And the building themselves looked terrible, like old barns or something. But once inside, there was such a welcoming feeling.

I hated renting skates because they always looked like construction boots with training wheels. I had my own black skates with red wheels. Big pimpin’.

New Edition’s latest songs blared at high decibels while kids raced in circles around the floor. Inevitably some poor fool would try to skate backward and inevitably that fool’s butt would be making sweet love with the hardwood floor.

It wasn’t always about skating, though. There were always dusty arcade games, those rip-off claw machines that cost like 75 cents (a fortune back then) for a chance to grab a raggedy teddy bear, and food. The pizza was the equivalent of loaf bread with a Kraft single on top, but you couldn’t tell us it wasn’t fine dining.

The rink was also Cupid’s playground. Fellas, remember bumping into that cute girl from 5th grade and hoping your mom would buy a couple of slices of pizza for you to enjoy? And once that chance meeting was over, you went home hoping that you would see her at the rink next week to relive the day again. It’s enough to make you forget about that knot on the back of your head you received from skating backward.

Skating rink, we salute you.

Would you like to nominate an 80s Icon? If you have a person, place or thing worthy of the honor, email edward@soulinstereo.com, hit me up on Twitter @etbowser, or stop by the comments section. Win me over and your Icon could be featured in a future column.



  1. I’m ashamed to say I never learned to roller skate. I did ice skate as a kid but roller skating was so much harder for me. Not sure why. Maybe you can teach me to skate?!

  2. I am right there with you. All of it. I distinctly remember skating to Whitney and Janet the best. At Skatetown, the couples skate was a big deal if, you know, you had a partner as was the hokey pokey on skates.

    I also received my first black eye at the skating rink. Concrete wall met my face.

  3. I was a faithful member at the skating rink on Tuesday nights for 5 years with my dad! After we moved I didn’t frequent the rinks in Birmingham as much, but I still went. Those were great times.

  4. OMG. Skate Palace was THE place to be in middle school! I also remember hearing Salt n’ Pepa’s “Sex” song for the first time and someone’s older sister feeling the need to explain what “doing it” really meant while we hovered over a table full of those nasty nachos. I remember the most random things…

    So I have two nominations!

    1) The Goonies – you can’t have grown up in the 80s without knowing who One-Eyed Willie was.

    2) The Cosby Show – because I really wanted to be a Cosby! I loved Cliff and Claire’s parenting style. Vanessa’s Chug-a-Lug lesson always stuck with me at parties in HS and college.

  5. I lived at the skating ring in middle school every friday and/or saturday night. I remember always getting nervous for couple skate, hoping someone would ask me LOL aww memories 🙂

  6. See, told ya – the skating rink was the spot. It’s good to see all these memories. Ashley, great nominations!

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