I had been to the roller…
I had been to the roller rinks in Brooklyn and Queens all of my life, folks showing off their savoire faire and the derby types that pluck you off like hockey players. But it was not until summer in the 80’s that I found sheer beauty in dance skating in Central Park.
A girl from Michigan, Zee was very much like Madonna and was the first to befriend me at the park. I was in excellent shape due to bike messengering, and although I could always skate, skate, my move lacked finesse until she taught me how to define my moves in a small confine and express myself on wheels. The other regulars met after work and we were of all ages. My regular dance partner was Eddie, a smooth Latino who taught me the crazy 8’s around the cans and hustle turns all around him and the circle that we all flew around.
It was the greatest release to flow with the music and the bodies. The guys demonstrating their strength by lifting and turning the ladies without missing beat, and the ladies showing their svelte physiques and grace. Water was the most important commodity in the park.
I remember how we used to say to one another as we danced and sweated around the circle…”I’m sitting out the next one” but inevitably the next song would be a more crucial jam than the last. And we would keep on movin’.
An older Italian gentleman was my slow jam partner. He saved my life once when he spotted me flying around the corner of 59th and 5th with a broken axle, he snatched me right out of the street into his arms and the safety of the corner. I did not realize I was so close to being history. I thanked and hugged the hero.
I tried to get the beauty of a man and woman skating together to music across to a young Irish speed street hockey player. He lived for flying down 5th avenue backwards on skates. He could only relate to slolums and speed.