Every Friday, without fail, the 7 yr old skips out of school, with an eager face asking – “can we go to the roller-disco tonight, pleeeeeeeaaaassseee?”. It’s a blessing and a curse that our local leisure centre fling open their doors every Friday night for a weekly rave on wheels – super that kids have a great place to expend that end-of-week excess energy but a bloody nightmare for any adult tasked with accompanying them; leaving me with the resounding feeling I must have done something wrong in a former life!
Why?I hear you say, would an event where the kids get to roll around like the cast of starlight express on a methamphetamine induced high, burning energy, getting excerise all whilst socialising with their peers, be a bad thing?! Ha, the people asking that question have clearly never experienced a village leisure centre roller-disco as an adult – so let me take you on a sensory journey, my roller-disco hell which I experience every Friday night…
A breeze block walled sports hall, mostly used for “toddler bounce” and 5th birthday parties. Do not confuse this leisure centre with those out-of-town jobbies with glam faux palm trees and an over-priced-under-styled sports gear shop – no no, think more air-craft hanger with vending machines. In said sports hall, 200 wheeled-up under 10s, red faced, wearing a bizarre combo of their best party gear on top and a “make sure you’ll be comfortable” on the bottom. I say that’s the “scene” but the reality is that it’s close to pitch black with a bit of Turkish holiday discotheque strobe lighting involved.
I can just about make out a host of over-exuberant, over confident and under skilled skaters flapping around like a hen house under fox attack; this makes up a majority of the attendees. Then there’s the way too cool lucky teen, in the vibrant yellow tee, who bagged the weekend job as a “skate ref” – they can skate backwards, so they do – all the time, whilst only conversing with equally cool, yellow clad teens. Oh to be young!
Then there’s the very brave (read: fucking stupid) parent who donned skates to hold their apprehensive child’s hand – now just wishing they could whisk little Jemima, in her organic-cotton floral dress and pink knee-pads, as far away as possible from this juvenile, wheely den of iniquity.
This is a special scent – the reserve of school discos and the roller rave. A unique blend with tops notes of child sweat and hair wax with base notes of fart and smelly socks. Occasisionally a quick waft of Impulse Vanilla Kiss from a female skate-ref will offer light relief to the nostrils; but the odour assault is unrelenting, not only for the 1.5 hour duration of the disco, but if you happen to be wearing natural fibres, expect that smell to stick like shit!
Noise, just noise! Who knew there was an electronic, trance version of Adelle’s Hello?! To put the decibels into perspective – not only can you hear the pumping beats reverberating through your very sole from 80m across the car park but it’s enough to equal out the squeals and yelps of 200 children once inside! That’s one hell of a sound system for a small village leisure centre. We might not have faux palm trees, but we’re rivalling Pacha on our speaker quality.
So, if being blasted by hard-techno beats whilst watering overheated 9 years olds in the dark, whilst also running the risk of a broken limb and a night in A&E is your thang – then I’ve found the perfect night out for you! Unfortunately, I’m more of an open fire, Netflix and G&T kinda gal these days.