Whizzing around on eight wheels isn’t just the stuff sixth-grade birthday-party dreams are made of: Roller skating, if there were ever any doubt, is cool again. For all ages.
“It’s one of the last great American pastimes,” says Saletta Coleman-Pierce, who’s active in the D.C. skating community and is an associate producer for the new HBO documentary “United Skates.” “Name a multigenerational activity where you can take a baby to a grandparent — people ages 2 to 88 — and roller skating is one.”
Coleman-Pierce is a staunch advocate of bringing more roller-skating spaces to the District; the city hasn’t had one indoors since the National Roller Skating Rink, in Adams Morgan, closed in 1992. For now, when you’re ready to roll, consider these five options across the region.
The vibrant blue-and-red exterior of this Prince George’s County rink hints at the liveliness inside. A dance party on wheels erupts during recurring special events: gospel night, adult night, the requisite birthday parties. Arcade games beep in the background as skaters of all ages and skill levels zoom by; the Lanham center is a popular practice destination for local clubs. Many come for “jam skating,” an entertaining blend of dance, gymnastics and roller skating. Picture a break dancer on wheels.
Coleman-Pierce, who recently attended a birthday party here, praised its floor: “It was kind of like a hidden gem, because rinks with good floors are really hard to find,” she says. “It’s like a golfer looking for a great course — you want to know that the floor is awesome.”
Prices vary, but on family night, held several times a month, admission and skate rental total $10.
9901 Lanham Severn Rd., Lanham, Md.
On Saturday nights, the line to get into Temple Hills snakes down the block, packed with teens who return weekly for Lit, a glow-in-the-dark skate party. Inside, the lights are dim, a DJ cranks out hip-hop and R&B tunes, and the cafe tempts customers with cotton candy and snow cones.
“They’re crazy for that night,” says general manager Lashon Andrews, who relocated from New York to run the rink, which she describes as a landmark. “The first time I saw [Temple Hills], I was like, ‘Wow.’ I just got a nostalgic feeling of an old skating rink, and the culture of skating hit me. You could feel the history and see how much the skaters were into it.”
Admission to Lit is $11; skate rental, $4. Other popular events include Dollar Mondays, $2 Tuesday family night and, on the first Friday of every month, gospel night.
3132 Branch Ave., Temple Hills, Md.
A rainbow of LED lights dances across the gleaming hardwood floor at this Stafford rink. Friday nights are popular with teens, and adults tend to favor Saturday evenings, owner Emily Garner says: “They all have their own style of skating. Some do it for exercise, some just for entertainment; some of them do dancing and all sorts of fancy stuff in the middle of the floor.”
Cavalier hosts a speed team that competes in inline racing events across the country — the sport is how many Olympic speedskaters got their start, Garner says. The public can drop in and practice with the team for $10 on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
1924 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Stafford, Va.
Owner Lynn Pancione has a philosophy about a kid’s threshold for a single activity: “Roller skating that’s just skating would be boring,” she says. So Skate-N-Fun in Manassas offers laser tag and a play zone full of tunnels that young visitors can bounce through, plus skating sessions with the Minions or Dora the Explorer.
Every Friday morning, there’s a two-hour tot skate — kids can roll with the assistance of a skate mate, and ride-on toys and strollers are welcome on the rink. Over the course of the day and evening on Saturdays, about 800 to 1,000 people, according to Pancione, participate in a mega skate (admission $9, skate rental $4.50).
Expect frequent light shows and a sound system that’s programmed to its audience: Top 40 hits for families; oldies for all ages.
7878 Sudley Rd., Manassas, Va.
Spend the next couple months perfecting your spin, or the art of staying upright, and then head to this open-air park when it opens on Memorial Day weekend. It’s the only skating rink in the national park system (and in the District), a just-plain-cool spot that attracts the area’s most talented skaters. Bonus: Skate rental is free, and there’s often a DJ.
“It’s just a different vibe to be able to have a skate party outside in the summer,” Coleman-Pierce says. “There’s nothing neater, to me, than hearing music and skating outside on a Saturday night.”
1500 Anacostia Dr. SE.