RollerJam USA, New York City’s only indoor, year-round roller skating rink, is a throwback nightclub on wheels, with a disco ball, strobe lights and pumping sound system.
It’s also the location of choice for the Sexy Kitty Skaters, an all-female group who skate there the first Saturday of every month.
“It’s old-fashioned fun,” said the group’s president and founder, Christina Norris, 42, of Harlem. The group travels to many rinks in the region but considers RollerJam a favorite. “The crowd here is mixed and the vibe is just right,” said Ms. Norris, who was wearing a tightfitting black T-shirt with the group’s name in glittery hot-pink lettering.
About 300 people come to the rink in Tottenville, Staten Island, for the Saturday adults-only event. The rink, near the foot of the Outerbridge Crossing and several strip malls, has a full-service bar and plays a mix of hip-hop, disco and the occasional Bon Jovi classic. It has become the de facto reunion spot for the regulars of now-closed rinks around the city, including Roll-A-Palace in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
“Everyone who hangs out here is just really nice,” said Robert Cusmano, 50, of Sayreville, N.J. “The music is good, there’s a bar, and everyone is happy.”
He described himself as a shuffler, a skater who loops around the rink with fancy foot moves. “Jersey skaters are usually shufflers, but I think there are more dancers from New York,” he said, describing skaters who congregate in the middle of the floor to show off their moves.
Owned by Thomas and Joseph Costa, the rink opened almost a decade ago and was designed with the Roxy, a former hot spot for skating and dancing in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, in mind.
“I put the speakers all over the ceiling and the subwoofers into the rink wall so you never lose the music when you go around,” said Joseph Costa, 52, who was a Roxy regular.
He said Hurricane Sandy hit hard. The entire place flooded, and it cost the Costa brothers some $750,000 to repair and reopen it.
Families stick to Friday nights, when free pizza is served with admission. Top-40 music plays over the sound system, but hits from the ’90s like “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe can get the entire crowd going. You will find shrieking teenagers, dozing dads, grandmothers rocking babies, and parents reading or having a drink while waiting for their children.
“I can feel the speed,” said Isabella Storer, 10, of Bay Terrace, Staten Island. Skating at a good clip, she was there recently to celebrate her birthday with family and friends.
Younger children and their parents are gone by 10 p.m., after which the rink is taken over by teenagers and couples on dates.
Dianna and Mark Brea of Mariners Harbor, Staten Island, were enjoying a night out on a recent Saturday. Mr. Brea, 44, said he had been skating for only about three years but was proud that he now had some serious moves.
“Not bad, right?” he asked as he wiped the sweat off his forehead with paper napkins.
His wife, 34, added, “Everyone knows your name here, really.”
The rink periodically hosts special events like boxing and comedy nights. During the summer, it’s a destination for many area camps.
“The one thing we don’t get are fights,” Mr. Costa said. “The riffraff don’t like to come. Because who can fight on skates?”
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