Tuesday, September 2, 2008

You can't get THIS in the north.*

Alternate title: Best girls' night EVER!

That's right. We partook in the awesomeness that can be defined but never described by two small words: ADULT SKATE.

Adult skate was a foreign concept to me until last year when I experienced it for the first time. I had been skating before, of course, but never like this. Girl Scout outings and school field trips could never prepare me for something of this magnitude.

All year I thought about that night. The music, the moves, the culture, the fashion. It felt less like a memory than a dream. Had it really happened at all? Surely something so dynamic, so indescribably awesome, didn't just happen every Sunday night from 8-11.

I was so enamored by the greatness of it, all I could do was stay away. What was I so afraid of? That I had built it up too much and would be disappointed? That I might get reminded (once again) that slow skaters have to stay on the inside? That someone might suggest (again) that I show up early next time to learn some moves before it gets crowded? Whatever it was couldn't keep me away forever. It was time to face the (incredibly awesome) music.

For me, the whole night really started about a month before we arrived at the rink. E-mails were sent, promises were made, challenges were thrown down. Since I couldn't compete with pocket combs or Roller Disco Skate Team experience, I went with all I had. I don't have any moves but plan to make up for it with really short shorts.

I should have picked out my outfit before I opened my mouth.

Have you been to American Apparel lately? I haven't laughed that hard in a dressing room since my sister tried on high waisted riding pants in a size two just for fun. Don't be fooled - when they say short shorts, they mean short shorts. I honestly have underwear bigger than some of the shorts I tried on (that's probably way more information about my underwear drawer than I ever need to share). No, the closest I was going to get to baring all like that was walking to the store when I stepped on a grate and did a full Marilyn Monroe skirt over the head move in downtown Nashville. (I don't know how she made that look hot...)

Fortunately, I found a skort which is surprisingly forgiving and wedgie free. Brilliant! Oh, and leg warmers. Cause I'm cool like that.

Just me and the glow stick vending machine.

When we pulled up to the club roller rink, it was packed. The parking lot was full, the adjacent parking lots were full, and the streets were lined with cars. People had even parked on the grass. Adult skate is 21 and over. You must show ID to get in. This is not a silly little wouldn't it be fun if we had a skate night just for grown ups? sort of thing. No, this is a full on cultural sub-sect of society. An entire community of incredibly talented skaters committed to their craft. It is prime documentary material.


It is probably the closest I will ever come to a truly legit dance club.

I know that is not a great video. Trust me, it doesn't even come close to capturing the essence of the experience. But, it does show you that this is not your mama's skating. These people are dancing. The fact that they have skates strapped to their feet is almost beside the point. They skate slow. Like, really slow. Or fast. It totally depends on the song. The skating is all about the music.

But there's more to it than that. There's couple skating, group skating and team skating. A man and woman will slow dance past you or step backwards arm-in-arm to the beat. Two or more men will make a train and with their bodies pressed close together navigate the rink with graceful precision (Erin saw a train like this jump over a girl who fell). Skaters dance and twirl and step in the center of the rink while entire groups abandon skating altogether to step in unison around and around the outside of rink.


Now I will be the first to tell you I can't skate like that. I have never gone backwards, have no idea how to step, and can't even come close to moving my body like that (skates or no skates). But cruising around the rink I still felt like, I don't know, like I had rhythm or something. There were no mirrors to convince me otherwise so I skated all night long feeling like a complete natural. I felt awesome actually.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw the following pictures on my camera. The first is me, the second is my friend Erin (we're the ones in black knee socks and short skirts).

We look exactly the same! And neither of us looks particularly rhythmic. Standing straight up with one bent arm, looking to the side and not smiling? That's not awesome. And definitely not what it felt like I was doing. At least we're wearing matching outfits, though.

At first we thought that was a bad thing but as it turns out, we fit right in. Lots of people were matching. There were a few different teams with team shirts (like the Nashville Steppers on Wheels and the Tennessee Free Stylers), the group of girls with one leg of their jeans cut off and the women dressed in 80s getups whose kids go to Liam's school (yes, I ran into people I know at adult skate!). But my favorite outfit of the night was this:

It's hard to tell in this picture but her shirt has Obama's face in gold and reads, "Barack Obama is my Homeboy." She got it at the flea market and then her son cut it all up and tied it back together to make it look seriously cool. It was the perfect skating ensemble and the girl had the moves to match.

After skating non-stop for nearly three hours (aside from the quick cherry coke break at the concession stand), we hobbled to the car high on the thrill of our shared experience. Adult skate was even greater than I remembered. Yes, I got told that slow skaters have to stay on the inside. Sure, someone mentioned I should come earlier to practice next time. Whatever. The point is, I did not overly glamorize it in my head. Adult skate really is as awesome as I remembered. And Gatorade and vodka in the parking lot is even better than I remembered! (It had to be done.)

*The title of this post was taken from a t-shirt spotted at the roller rink. For the record, you can't get it in the west either.


hezza said...

Today my right hamstring and calf are feeling the "to the left" motion. My right knee is a little black and blue.
I can't wait to do it again.

hezza said...

a I made a roller skating mixtape.

mockingbird said...

I Can Not Believe I missed this!!!!! OMG, is all I have to say and I don't care if I'm working next time...work will have to wait!