With Sunday morning scarcely a few hours old, the action inside the cavernous Alexandria Roller Rink was as hot as its glowing pink neon letters identifying the 35-year-old brick barn nestled among expensive luxury condominiums on the city's north waterfront.
At 2:30 a.m., dozens of youths with their $300 skates slung over their shoulders are still plunking down $4 each to join hundreds of fellow skaters on the rink's dusty maple planks for a whirl in the fast lane.
"Skating is the thing," shouts a 22-year-old patron over the drone of a 1,000 tiny wheels and the amplified thump of a popular funk tune.
But the Alexandria City Council is wondering, after years of receiving complaints about the rink destroying the area's peace, if the early-morning skating should be restricted.
Currently the rink, at 807 N. St. Asaph St., operates on weekends until 3:30 a.m. and sometimes 5 a.m. City Manager Douglas Harman has proposed an ordinance that would prohibit all amusement businesses from operating between the hours of 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.
Area residents have complained chiefly about the slamming of car doors as rink patrons leave in the early morning, and Mayor Charles Beatley says something must be done.
"Compatibility with the neighborhood is the problem," Beatley said during a discussion of the roller rink problem at a council meeting Saturday.
But rink comanager Marcus Ray pursuaded the council to give the rink six weeks to solve the noise problem. He noted that the rink had solved complaints about its loud recorded music by installing more than $25,000 worth of soundproofing.
Saturday night, he and an assistant patrolled Madison and Pitt streets, which separate the rink from surrounding apartment buildings, telling patrons that parking on those streets was no longer permitted.
The teen-agers and young adults say they will continue to skate away their cares in their favorite rink, being careful not to park near the apartment buildings.