Tacoma is full of secrets and one of them is how three seasons every year the roller skating rink located just one block south of Tacoma Community College on Mildred Street is packed. Rollin' 253's General Manager Jerri Turner said up to 150 people will be bumping skates on a typical Saturday night. Yet show up in the summer and you will have lots of room to “feel tha funk,” as there is lots of elbow room to do figure eights and otherwise show off your wheels of glory.
Turner said that is because in the summer, with sunshine making the days longer and with the warmer temperatures, the rink is abandoned for folks who choose to go to the park. That means the rink is left wide open for anyone who wants to skate without bumping into little kids.
Saturday nights are "Retro Skate" night year-round at Rollin’ 253, from 7:30-10:30 p.m. Skaters might show up dressed in leg warmers and wear their hair in a side ponytail. Or they might be wearing plaid polyester suits instead with afro-wigs or permed-looking hair. Point is, they come to skate and to rock the night away to 70s, 80s and 90s music, even if they are just wearing modern clothes such as T-shirt and jeans.
In the summer, Rollin’ 253 has more room for advanced skaters who want to show off the newest aerial spin or for new skaters who do not want to feel like a spaz when they are just learning the basics and want to make ordinary turns without getting floor wax on the pockets of their jean mini-skirts.
"Most skating rinks do a Retro Night," Turner said, "because skating is such a 70s thing." Yet she also said most other rinks close for the summer months, due to low skater counts.
Can you dig it? The rink plays all retro music. We are talking disco, K.T. Oslin's "Eighties Ladies" and Queen's "We Are the Champions" or "We Will Rock You." Then There is Kool and the Gang, Prince's retro music and Michael Jackson's early work, not to mention Salt-N-Pepa's sound and Bon Jovi's too.
"Retro Night is all about the music," Turner said. There is no typical age group. Folks often call the rink to plan nostalgic parties for their 12-year-olds and older folks can really get to feeling déjà vu skating to the oldies as their kids are skating with Madonna gloves and blue eye shadow.
At the concessions stand, there is pizza, all beef hotdogs, macaroni and cheese, chicken tacos, tater tots, popcorn and ice cream. There is also a whole lot of beer. Unlike most rinks, Turner said that Rollin’ 253 offers malted beverages and there are at least 12 different brands of beer offered, including Coors Light, Straw-Ber-Ritas, Corona, Fat Tire, Heineken, Blue Moon, Budweiser, and whatever other flavors Turner feels like bringing in.
Turner said she has worked at Rollin’ 253 for three-and-a-half years but Retro Skate has been going on for five years.
According to Turner, these are the other exciting things happening every day at Rollin’ 253:
• Tuesday After School Skate 3-6 p.m.
• Wednesday Lessons 5-6 p.m.
• Wednesday Cheap Skate 6-8 p.m.
• Friday Early Skate (public session) 3:30-5:30 p.m.
• Friday Private Parties 6-11 p.m.
• Lil Skater Public Session 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
• Saturday at the Matinee noon to 4 p.m. (Skate the afternoon away for $8 admission, which includes quad skate rental; $2 in-line rental.)
• Saturday Retro Skate 7:30-10:30 p.m.
• Sunday Family Skate 1-5 p.m. (Looking for a fun-filled afternoon? Come skate with your family. This session offers family-friendly music. $7 admission, $3 quad skate rental or $5 in-line rental.)
• CAMP IS BACK! 12 weeks starting June 12
All sessions are subject to change. See website schedule for details at rollin253.com/schedules.