You probably think roller skating is a hobby past its prime; a relic of the '70s that people only seek out when they're looking for a wacky first date idea. But in Dallas, at least, you'd be wrong. Not only do we have a thriving roller derby scene, but plenty of people still flock to area rinks — of which there are eleven or more — to skate on a more casual basis. Whether you're looking for something to do with your kids, or want the feeling of hitting a club on a Friday night, there are roller skating options throughout the city.
White Rock Skate Center
10055 Shoreview Road
Open Friday through Sunday
Admission $7 to $9; Skate rental $3
For a lot of Dallasites, White Rock Skate Center is old faithful. If you haven't been since your 6th grade birthday party, return this weekend and you'll find not much has changed. Aside from the rink, which is nice albeit a bit smaller than some others around town, there's an ample concession area with tables for snacking, a few arcade games and numerous lockers for safekeeping of your belongings while you hit the rink.
If you have children this is a good place to bring them since kids rule the rink here. White Rock hosts multiple birthday parties daily, complete with races and roller skate limbo. The music mostly slants Top 40, with the occasional throwback to the Ghostbusters theme or Michael Jackson. And you don't have to be a kid, or a guest, to join in. Skating at a normal pace can be a bit risky here though, because of all of the little ones. The bathrooms are also insanely small, and a downright hazard if you attempt them on skates like everyone else.
2939 E. Ledbetter Drive
Admission $3 to $5; Skate rental $3
Southern Skate in South Dallas has one of the smoothest, quietest rinks nearby, and one of the best scenes on Thursday night when adult skate takes place. From 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., truly amazing skaters and dancers flock to this rink owned and operated by the city of Dallas to show off. Couples dance together, one twirling the other more gracefully than most can accomplish in regular shoes; groups of six perform choreographed moves in sync as they skate backward; and in the center of the rink there's a cluster of people, some break dancing, others just spectating.
A lot of these regulars will bring their own decked-out skates, but the ones Southern Skate rents are decently comfortable if you get the right size (most rinks rent only in men's sizes). Two DJs who man the booth play recent rap hits in the early hours, but around midnight when the lights dim, the sound transitions to disco. There aren't any concessions available at night, but you can use the water fountains when you're panting from overexertion. Thursday at Southern Skate is truly a sight to behold, and it's fun to join in even if you're a novice skater.
Dad's Broadway Skateland
3022 Moon Drive
Open Tuesdays and Friday through Sunday
Admission $4 to $6; Skate rental $1
This skating rink has the approval of one of Dallas' best roller derby teams, Assassination Derby, which often competes there. The bathrooms are gross, but Dad's was built in '61, so what do you expect? Like most Dallas rinks it's simply old and has never been updated. But while it's not lavish, the price is right at Dad's, where skate rental is the cheapest at only one dollar. For your pocket change you'll get a large rink, service that's exceptionally friendly and a healthy mix of adults and kids. Just hold your nose if you have to go.
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Forum Roller World
1900 South Great Southwest Parkway, Grand Prairie
Open Tuesday, Thursday through Sunday
Admission $2 to $6; Skate rental $2 to $3
We were tipped off to this rink by a skater at Southern Skate. The crowd that skates there on Thursdays moves to Grand Prairie's Forum Roller World on Sundays, when they host their own adult skate night from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. You'll find a very similar scene to Southern Skate, with lots of impressive skate talent and music that's a blend of R&B and electronic, leaning slightly toward the latter. Best of all, it's the only rink we know of that allows booze; it's BYOB.
1121 1st Ave.
You'll need you to purchase your own skates with indoor/outdoor wheels to make this idea a reality, but a lot of the local rinks have skate shops where you can pick up a beginner's pair for $60 to $100. (Or you can visit a site like rollerskatenation.com.) Skating at Fair Park won't cost you a dime as far as admission, and it's one of the most interesting concrete courses you could ever find. You can spend all day winding between art deco buildings, without worrying about the intrusion of traffic, and you won't ever take the same route twice. Kneepads are a necessity too, in case you fall on the concrete, but the extra effort will be worth it. Once Fair Park is redeveloped it's likely to be much busier year round, so seize this opportunity to have it all to yourself on skates.