I’ll confess, a shiver ran through my spine when I saw a tweet from the Melksham Assembly Hall in association with Melksham Town FC. Like a jagged splinter from deep within my memories rising to pierce my brain…… but I’d wager for others the return of roller disco would appeal!
On Friday 31st August the Assembly Hall will transform into a roller disco; three sessions, 2:30 – 4:30PM and 5 -7PM are open to everyone, but 7:30-9:30PM is adults only (18+.) £4 entry if you’ve got your own wheels, but skates can be provided for a £6:50 all-in.
Not for yours truly, I like to keep my feet on the ground thank you. It was considered a “treat,” a “treat” they had the audacity to call it; the last PE lesson before Christmas holidays at my school was the welcomed roller disco…welcomed by my peers; I feared it like a nightshift in Hades, or Haydens, whichever is worst.
Pretend for a moment kids didn’t have wheelies, you know the ones in their soles which you have no idea are there, until they majestically glide across the function room to grab the last chicken nugget before you can lay your greedy mits on it?
Back in the 1980s us kids had nought like that, closest invention; roller boots. As the name suggests, they were boots with roller wheels and stoppers; ALL the cool kids had them, and wore them with pride at the PE roller disco. Not being one for this activity it was just for my parents not to invest in such new-fangled accessories, but to hand me 1970s death-traps on wheels; solid, weighty metal slabs with squeaky unaligned wheels soldered on, and leather straps you could tie precariously over your school shoes; stoppers were for losers in 1978.
You have to understand, it wasn’t about roller-skating, it was a fashion parade, a contest of coolness, and with these items strapped to my shoes I was about as cool as Satan’s vindaloo served in a Venus hot tub. I was the catwalk equivalent of Susan Boyle in a shell suit.
Like shopping trolley wheels strapped onto a hippopotamus I hugged the wall, wobbling and praying to Simon Le Bon it’d end soon, as the beautiful ones spun and pirouette their cares away to the sound of the Village People.
At the edges of the dance few drips and fatties like me sporadically clung to the wall, or dangerously protruding gym equipment. The further you went into the spiralling interweave of dancing kids the faster it got, until you hit the epicentre; a benchmark of all that was cool, the ultimate level of cool you could obtain. For me, on the outside looking in it was impenetrable, a blurred place I’d never go, held no desire to go, thus, alas, would never attain that level of cool.
Until a girl with pigtails, dippy-boppers and legwarmers thick enough to wrap an elephant’s thigh snug, zipped up to me and took my hand. I pleaded for her to stop, her experience on wheels knew no bounds, but in a Hunchback/Esmerelda scenario, I believe she had a tinsy crush on me, and was determined to indoctrinate me to the central zone’s cool gang, regardless of my total petrified state, and the skating ability of a Dodo sitting it’s Harvard entry exam.
But momentarily my fear ceased, with her delicate hand in my sausage fingers it seemed anything was possible, as she guided my unstable frame closer. We picked up speed at an alarming rate, but as I felt the warmth of her hand, and noted the strips of varnish crossing her half-chewed fingernails, an overwhelming sensation of control balanced my karma. She smiled at me, everything around us paled by comparison; it was just her and I, sashaying through dreamland in rapture, and as the disco ball above reflected in the metal strap of her dental brace, she sparkled, then let go of my hand.
Now central in the sports hall and unaided, travelling at speeds inadvisable for a chubby preteen on metal slabs with shopping trolley wheels, I failed to negotiate, even attempt to negotiate the bend in which everyone else glided through with ease. Fear returned and direction was left to fate.
Fate saw it that I should stay in a straight line, knocking smaller children aside and flattening the smallest of them. That is, until something solid would break the momentum. It was the wall of the sports hall which broke the accelerated display, my nose and my pride. It was also the last time I got to hold my sweetheart’s hand; probably for the best, she was preggers by 15.
So, yeah not for me I’m afraid, but the return of roller discos are a thing now; don’t mind me, you go on and have fun!