Wednesday, December 28, 2005

All Night Skate! A Tale from the 1980's...

I was looking around my old record collection tonight. Yes, records kiddies... vinyl- what the dinosaurs used to do for music before IPODs, and came across a bunch of old 80's discs. New Year's Eve was on my mind. and upon thumbing through some of the 45's (Abracadabra by the Steve Miller band, We Got the Beat-The Go-Go's, Let it Whip- the Dazz Band, Don't You Want me- Human League,Centerfold- J Geils Band )I got a flashback.

You know the car commercial where you put your hand on the car and envision driving it? Well I got the same thing except in reverse. New Year's Eve 1982.Rockin'? Oh yes my friends. New Year's 1982- the night of the All Night Skate.

Currently a vacant lot in my hometown, there once stood the mighty Hamburg Roller Rink. And I was a DJ there. Roller skating was pretty much the only game in town in the wintry Buffalo suburbs. Before the internet , before most video games(ok Pong..maybe Atari),The roller rink was packed with 800- 1000 kids every Friday and Saturday night.

For New Year's it was planned that a big balloon drop would be done from the center of the floor. Also the rink would stay open all night long. What? teenagers out all night? That's crazy talk you say! But it was allowed to happen and the place was packed that night.

Although what was a 1000 kids at 7pm, It sure dwindled when the other entertainment for the evening appeared. Yes, I was dj-ing for awhile with some others but we had to stop playing the couple skates of "Open Arms" by Journey and "Keep on Loving You" by Reo Speedwagon , The Sugarhill Gang "boogie skate" mix and Tommy Tutone 's ode to Jenny for a live band.

I don't know if favors were owed, money exchanged hands, or someone lost a bet but there was a band booked to play in a makeshift stage set up at the far end of the roller rink. Early that afternoon I had caught their sound check. Nobody playing, just a roadie going Check-Checkone-Ch-Ch-Ch in the feedback driven mic. a band member's girlfriend was painting the band name on a sheet.And it looked soooooo badass.

The band went on. They called themselves Parousia- which I discovered meant the second coming of Christ.It was Christian Rock. Rough segue from "Give it To me Baby" by Rick James to "We are Paroooooooousia." TWAAAAAAAAANG.

If indeed it was the second coming, then J.C. would have listened for 5 minutes and kicked the drum kit in. They kept singing about being apostles but I never knew the apostles wore bad faux leather jackets and wore their hair like Paul Stanley of Kiss. Ok...maybe Judas. They tried hard but it was clear by audience reaction that another Christian tradition may be making a comeback- public stoning.

Parousia did a really good job of clearing the floor. I think there was a "soup kitchen during the Great Depression-like line at the pay phones(remember. this was before cell phones)with kids PLEADING to their parents to come pick them up.Talk about saving souls!

I wish I could recall Parousia's set list - I seem to recall that they did a knock off of Joan Jett's "I love Rock-n-Roll" and made it "I love Jesus Christ." In the words of Dr. Zachary Smith, "Oh the pain. The pain."

Another thing that happened that night was outside the rink some people were hanging around in the parking lot. And some went behind the adjacent Ames department store to drink.(In 1982 the teen age drink of choice was Genessee Creme Ale, something called "Red,White and Blue beer", and Boone's Farm.

Cops rolled up on two guys back there. It was John and Grant, who both happened to work at the rink. When asked their names they told the police officer, but he didn't believe the two. In fact he got really really angry.

I guess because Grant's last name was McMahon and his real first name was Edward. John's last name was Carson. They were almost thrown in the patrol car and taken down to the station because they said they were Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon.

Aside from that Parousia played their set and helped with the countdown. Woooooo 1983! I don't think they knew auld lang syne so a band member made guitar sounds on mic to the song. When one of the dj's said "Let's hear it for Parousia." cricket cricket cricket cricket.Ah another page of rock -n-roll history.

The Balloon drop worked but clumsy roller skaters would trip over them. Some kids flopped in sleeping bags in the practice skate areas, and they would wake up occasionally to skate around the rink. I seem to recall a night of smuggled-in beer in the dj booth, listening to that kick ass Asia album on big headphones. Awesome rad. I love the 80's. Happy Frickin' New Year. Drink up Shriner!

"This will be a couple skate... couples only on the floor please..." (Cue Leather and Lace -Stevie Nicks /Tom Petty and "Hard to Say i'm Sorry" by Chicago)

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