Nothing Beat Going To The Skating Rink In The Past

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The sound of the ice cream man’s music, the smell of Mom cooking my favorite meal, and consuming sweet, gooey cotton candy at an amusement park; these are just some of the things that elicit nostalgia and happy memories of my childhood. A time when life was simpler!

While some of these memories remain in the past, some still exist. One of my greatest childhood memories is going to the old skating rink on a Friday night with nothing but a couple of bucks in my pocket!

Skating sign, Sapulpa, Oklahoma
John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Skating Rinks on a Friday Night

My friends and I would lace up our skates and hit the skating rink almost every Friday night. I remember that Friday nights were a particularly fun time to visit the skating rink as that’s the night they played loud music and had the disco ball hung. We would sing along to our favorite songs while attempting not to fall. 

The old skating rinks would have a concession stand full of yummy snacks, and on Friday nights, they would offer fresh-made pizza and soft pretzels with warm cheese. I loved to skate for hours until my hunger got the best of me, and then I visited the concession stand for a warm slice of pizza and a fizzy Coca-Cola! 

The bright-colored carpets and shiny disco ball made the old skating rinks memorable and almost antique now in today’s culture. Also, the smell of the rubber skates gliding along the rink resonates with me even to this day. 

Happy memories always tend to stick with you for your entire life!

Skating Rink Nostalgia

Skating rink nostalgia is something most people born between 1960-1990 will experience because rinks were such a prominent part of our lives. Childhood memories are usually the best memories we ever have, and skating rinks were a large part of that. That’s why every time you drive past the old skating rink, you get those feelings of nostalgia flooding back in!

I can still remember the strange smell of the combination between cigarette smoke and freshly popped popcorn as I made my way into the rink. Back then, smoking was a popular, and now we know bad habit, so it’s no surprise that the skating rink was full of adults enjoying a cigarette while their kids skated the night away. 

As you’d make your way into the atrium of the old skating rink, you’d be greeted by a front desk/concession stand worker asking for your size of skate. Unless, of course, you had your own roller skates; in that case, you would go straight to the carpeted, fuzzy benches and lace up your own skates. Lacing skates was always a challenge, and making sure you tied them tight enough so they wouldn’t come loose as you skated and potentially cause a pile-up of skaters tripping over one another was always tricky. 

Fallsview indoor skate rink, Ellenville, New York
John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Old Skating Rink Games

One of my fondest memories of being at the skating rink is playing those silly yet fun games. You know, the ones you didn’t want to be caught playing at your sister’s birthday party, but everyone lined up for with their skates on at the rink. Some of these games included:

  • Limbo
  • The Dice Game
  • Duck Duck Goose


Limbo was always a favorite, yet getting low enough to clear that pole took work. I still remember my friends and me practicing how low we could get while skating during free skate so that we were ready to go when the limbo stick came out! 

I have to admit that 90% of my knee injuries during my childhood were due to that limbo game.

The Dice Game

Did this game have a name other than “The Dice Game?” 

Music would play as we all skated around freely, then when the music stopped, you quickly found the closest corner labeled with a number 1-6. Then, someone in the middle of the rink rolled a giant fuzzy die; whatever number landed face up on the dice was the chosen number, and everyone standing at that corner was out of the game.

The music resumed, and this went on until only one person was left standing; that person was the winner! The best part about winning was you usually got a free ticket to the concession stand for a little treat!

Duck Duck Goose

It was always hilarious to watch your friends struggle to their feet while wearing skates when they were the chosen goose. That, mixed with the chase really made this skating rink game fun to play and watch!

Boy swinging his girl on roller skates. Savoy Ballroom, Chicago, Illinois
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives.

Skating as a Pastime

Thinking back to when roller skating was a popular pastime for kids and adults makes me miss it. Roller skating was popular for all age groups and created a fun pastime for kids after school or on weekends to help keep them occupied and out of trouble.

I loved planning a skating event and inviting all of my friends to come along. We would all meet up at the old skating rink, bring our skates and money for snacks. My goal was to be a better skater than my friend Laura, but she did all the tricks and could even skate backward, which I still have yet to master!

I also always loved the arcade games and playing pool in between my favorite songs. I would wear my skates, even on the carpeted area, and take breaks between songs by relaxing on the benches with a soda or playing a round of darts or pool with my friends. 🙂

Let’s Bring Skating Back

There’s no denying that the feeling of being in an old skating rink is like no other. Feeling the air hit your face as you speed past the other skaters while jamming out to your favorite tunes is something no video game can ever replace. Let’s bring skating back and introduce our kids to the fun and exciting world of roller skating. Your skating nostalgia will thank you!

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