While roller skating's Tucson glory days are a few decades in the past, back when there were two Skate Country locations and Rollers held court on Alvernon (for a bit of '80s nostalgia, search for the Facebook group for former employees and fans of Rollers), this city's affection for gliding around an oval on eight wheels is more dormant than dead. Obviously, there's roller derby, but the remaining Skate Country location still stays strong on E. 22nd Street also still hosts skating every night of the week, with a few adults-only sessions scattered in their schedule.
However, on Friday night, the nightclub meets the roller rink, as the second edition of Skaters Gonna Skate invades Skate Country.
For DJ Herm, one of the busiest DJs in town (and the winner of a "city's best DJ" contest held by Hot 98.3 earlier this year), the opportunity to pick the music for such an event was an item on his professional bucket list. "I always wanted to DJ at a roller skating place," Herm said. "I tried to get a gig at Skate Country for over a year, but I wasn't talking to the right people doing it on my own."
Enter Ronnie Spece, local realtor by day, club promoter and dance music expert (under the name Ronnie Hardcase) by night, who spent his teen years as an employee at Skate Country. Spece was able to make connections with the family who runs Skate Country, and together he and Herm rented out the establishment in October to celebrate Spece's birthday. While the focus was mostly on the '80s R&B heavy mix of music provided by Herm, some Skate Country classics were a part of the evening, including the giant plush die for the Four Corners game, a reverse skate, and the classic couples skate.
With the success of the first event, the second time around is a test to see if Tucson will support a regularly scheduled skate night.
"We want to make it a monthly thing with a little different crowd than the people who regularly go to the adult nights," Herm said. "I'm doing a little different thing there as a club DJ, playing a mix instead of just song after song. It's not cheap to rent out, but if we get it bigger and bigger, we could get an extra hour." If the monthly format works out, Herm mentioned bringing his "super-talented DJ friends" who might eager for the opportunity to spin Pointer Sisters songs into the fold.
"We just want to reach out to people who want to skate, people who might not ever realize that Skate Country is still open. It's harder and harder to get people out to the club, so this could be something for older people who don't go out as much," Herm said, laughing. "This is something that doesn't run too late, so your babysitter won't get mad."
You shouldn't expect to see Herm venture too far outside the DJ booth, however. His deep, dark secret? "I don't know how to skate for shit."