Skating Rinks

Lace your skates and head to the rink!
May 02, 2011
Howdy, RetroJunkies. Here's another "fix" for you. I got to thinking the other day while I was out running, I was looking around my hometown and had some good flashbacks of what I was doing when I was a kid; biking, running, walking, jumping out of playground sets or the swings,

Ok...that's a little extreme, but looks fun if you land right.

I also remembered strapping my white colored boots with hot pink wheels attached and trying to skate down broken concrete and sidewalks. After failing tricks and falling down so much I bruised my legs, knees and butt, I took it to the next level and brought several friends with me. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you.

S*K*A*T*I*N*G* R*I*N*K*S*!*!*!

I got this from their website; they own the picture. I'm just using it for the glamor and glitz of it all

Man that was one hell of a ride when you get the chance to go the rink and spend several hours trying to look cool and fall on your ass at the same time. When I was growing up in elementary school, we had an option to go to Gibson's Skate Arena in New Castle, IN. Usually it was an open skate night (Tuesday or Wednesday) and it was between 5 and 9. Kids my age were like "4 hours of skating? Are you serious? Radical!!!"
The day of the skating night, I would be very excited and told my dad that morning to not make any appointments for it was skate night for our school. Of course, he would always take me or I would find someone and their parents to take us (one way or another, I was gonna go). After school I would jump off the bus and rush home to get at least an hour of playtime before eating dinner. My mom would yell for me from my friends house and I would rush back home to scarf down what my mom made. Usually it was hamburgers with macaroni and cheese with peas (I hated peas but now I wish I could eat them everyday).

After scarfing down my dinner with a big glass of milk, I would wait for my dad to get ready and we would head out in his white S-10 Chevy truck. The drive seemed like it would take forever to get there, but once we pulled up in front of the blue building with red letters reading "Gibson's Arena" I was excited enough to bounce out of my seat. You would pay to the teller and tell them you want skates; they buzz you in and you are welcomed to a world of wonder.

On your right you had the trail leading off to where you could turn in your ticket for skates or if you were wanting something a little more, pay an extra $0.50 to rent speed skates!! I always got these things. The wheels spun faster and the bearings were loose so when you would make your turns you would go faster and not have your wheels lose momentum. I strap those babies on and while Alan Jackson's "Chatahoochie" was playing I would run out there and skate my heart out.

After only being out there for 10 mins my feet started to hurt (you know on the inside arch of your foot and your leg muscles started to spasm, yeah that's how hard and fast I would skate). Usually I would take a break with my blueberry Mountain Dew (don't knock it if you haven't tried it) and eat my Sour Punch Straws

Strawberry was my favorite
After a quick break you were back on the rink. Soon the announcer would come on and say "Couples Only!" so I would scramble around to find someone to skate next to me. Usually I just skated on my own until I was caught or I just lie and say my partner fell so I'm going back around to get her/him. Usually it didn't phase them but there were a couple times I got to do it. I felt like the Bomb!

There were so many fun things to do there! I'm just going to name them all from what I can by memory.

ToPsY tUrVeY

Topsy-Turvey is where you had 3 people hold hands and skate. When you hear the whistle from the orange vests (the safety people on the rink with you) you would have to turn around spinning the other two people to go the opposite direction. You do this for a whole song! Trust me when you have bigger boys or girls, you feel like going as fast as the speed of sound if you are on the end. Just watch out for the wall! Anyways you would end up going in the opposite direction for a good hour or so then the announcer would come back saying "Let's go the regular direction!"

At one end of the rink (usually by the entrance/exit), orange cones would be put up to allow space for skaters and ones who wanted to try and limbo. You had 2 little girls who would be helpers (basically googly with the cute guys that were the safety skaters. Some of them were quite cute). They would be at opposite ends of the pole as it was laid on 2 wooden posts with nails sticking of them. The line would be super long and one by one kids would duck underneath the pole to see how low they could go. There were kids there with amazing abilities to go as low as possible.

Yes, I saw a girl do this once. I couldn't believe she could get that low. She still holds the record there and I was around 7 when she did it. Talk about a good 18 years!!! Holy crap!


This is similar to Limbo but it was a matter of leg strength. Same set up for the limbo except with small orange cones. You would see how far you could skate pass the cones. If you hit them or knock them out of place, you were out. I tried to do this one a couple of times and I did get far but was soon outed. Bummer!

Shoot the Duck
This was very interesting. Hard to turn when you have a corner up ahead. Basically you skate as fast as you can to get some speed then the whistle is blown. You have to duck and stay down until you have to stop or you fall over. Usually skaters could cross their legs or just ball up and put one foot out the side to control steering. Usually kids would cheat with pushing themselves with their hands, but it was still all in good fun.

4 Corners
I saw this one way and saw another. So I'll just go by what I was use to. Basically you skate around until the whistle is blown. You go to 4 separate corners and the announcer decides to out a specific corner. If your corner was called, you were out for the entire skating time. When the last loser corner is called, the winners get a free drink or snack and get to skate to the next song. Usually it was Britney Spears, Mandy Moore or something pop-ish sounding.

Races, Age Skate, Dance Circle.

Ok these I'm going to bundle all together. Races ranged from different age groups; 5-9 10-13, 14-18. The would have one big race where you can hear them hitting the stoppers so hard to get speed. They would have one go around and the first 3 are declared winners. They usually get a free drink or snake like everyone else that would win. There was the double skate, double shoot the duck, and a bare race where kids would run on the rink in socks, grab a skate, skate around then come back to get the other to finish the race. That one was usually cool to see skaters use the skate like a skateboard. (Wow! How many time did I use skate??)
Then you had the age skate; 5-9, 10-14, 15-18, Adult skate. Usually when the adults or older kids got to skate, there would be an older 70s style beat song playing like "Burning Down the House" or something very catchy and you catch them doing the Shuffle! That was the most awesome thing to see at 7 years old. I would practice at home and when I went back over and over to get it down exact. I did at 13, but then tragedy happened when I was shifting my skate over my left bumper and fell onto the concrete floor, breaking off a piece of my knee cap at 18. Ever since then, I haven't been able to get back to doing the shuffle. It was heartbreaking for me but I keep the memory alive as I just skate around.

While everyone was just about to get tired and some where still wanting to skate, the night came to an end with the announcer saying "skating is about over, we will be closing in 15 mins. Make sure to return your skates back at the counter." I would skate over the carpet, exchange my skates for my shoes.

Now the funny thing when you put shoes on after skating non-stop (almost) for 4 hours, your legs are like jello. I found out that your equilibrium while you skate changes to counter your balance so you won't fall on your ass. Well when you switch so fast to the shoes, you feel like walking in marshmallows. I would walk, half fall onto the railing trying to get to my dad. He always found it amusing at my little imbalances when I was ready to leave. I would grab my blueberry Mountain Dew, a new calendar for the free skates on Saturday and Sunday, and try to walk to the truck.

As I sat in the truck, while my dad drove back to the house, my feet hurt so bad, my legs felt like they were on fire but I had a blast at the skating rink.As soon as a friend of mine's mom taught me how to skate, I would go back there at least once or twice a year so I could get my fix. Soon my friends in high school would head that way and we would flirt with the guys with our special moves, or giggle and talk about the one cute guy with the smell good cologne as we skated. At that time, we didn't care about the games they kids played, just as long as we skated the world disappeared for those 4 hours.

I just went back recently with a friend and realized how much I missed that place. I also found out if you skate for an hour you can burn an easy 200 calories. Lucky for me, I'm trying to get back in shape for the Navy. So I can have fun and exercise; I thought that didn't exist.

Well kiddies, as the night draws to an end and my sore legs are heavy and immovable (LOL), tell me, what was your favorite memory at a skating rink? Did you go after school, birthday party? What could you do on a pair of skates? Would you pick skating back up? If you say yes to the last question, be ready for me to show up and say "Lets Go!"

As always; I've lead you down the road to Nostalgia; now it's your turn.
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