Skating has a rich tradition on Long Island, and enjoyed a surge of popularity in the 70s. Back then, there was a plethora of roller rinks to lace up a pair of skates and travel in a circle with your friends for a few hours. Sadly, those places are few and far between today. Let’s take a look back at some of the more memorable places to skate during the decade.
Numerous roller rinks once dotted the Long Island landscape, but by the end of the 50s, interest in the activity waned and the future didn’t look too bright for this once popular activity. And then, disco saved the day. Roller disco which has its roots in NYC, spread to the island like wildfire.
Soon after, traditional roller rinks were doing away with the organ music in favor of big sound systems and DJs that played the current hits. Soon, much of the island’s youth were taking to the rinks on the weekends, during summer vacation, and as a part of countless school field trips.
They traveled to places like Levittown, Commack and Bay Shore, and skated on the beautifully-polished hardwood floors of these grand arenas, or at least tried. Those not so blessed with a sense of balance spent much of the time gripping onto the side rails, and hoping they could make it through the experience without taking a spectacular fall in front of all their friends.
There were usually video games and snack bars and places to just hang out and talk, so even if you weren’t inclined to break any speed records, there were still plenty of opportunities to socialize.
For others, the rink was the place to show off your formidable skating skills, either to the accompaniment of traditional organ music, or to the groovy dance hits of the day. Thanks to the rise of roller disco, a spinning mirrored disco ball and strobe lights became a staple at rinks around the island, making roller rinks the raves of their day.
The roller disco era would peak in the late 70s, but by the time the 80s were in full swing, disco was on the way out and so were too many of these wonderful rinks. The one in Levittown, which opened in the 40s, closed its doors in 1986. Commack’s rink closed in 1995. The rink in Bayshore(where yours truly spent considerable time in the late 70s) lasted until 2001. The building, in horrible shape, was mercifully torn down a few years later.
Thankfully, there are still a handful of places to lace up those skates for anyone feeling nostalgic. It’s a far cry from the glory days of Long Island’s rich skating history, but at least the tradition hasn’t disappeared entirely and is being kept alive for future generations. But they’ll never know what it was like during the 70s, when the local roller rink was the place to be.
So, what roller rinks did you skate at back in the day? I hope you’ll take a moment to share all those roller skating recollections with all of us in our comments section below.
Cant forget the Biggest Roller Rink that had opened in Centereach about 1974 or 75. The floor was a smooth flat Concreate with a polyurethane finish. It was located on Middle Country Rd and Nichols Highway. It was a lot bigger skating Area and also the Sound System was very loud.
YES!!!!! Your Right, I was there just about every Friday and Saturday night. Every time I hear that Journey or REO Speedwagon song I think back when I used to hang out at USA Roller rink. Good Times.!
Billy squier the stroke brings me right back to 2002 roller rink in Sayville circa 1982
Was called usa
Yes!! Do you remember where it was?
I remember skating there in bayshore father would drop me off and pick me up. I was a total rink rat
did you skate artistic in companion by any chance tammy
We went to Wallcliff roller rink and pool in Elmont, Just down the road from Great Eastern Mills
Walcliff was the best place to hang out in the early 70s. We used to walk there every Friday and Saturday night and always left with a girl. We’d stop for pizza once we got to Hempstead Tpke.
We went in the late seventies and always left with a guy. Really miss innocent fun.
we use to take the n24 bus from queens and wlak a few blocks to the walcliff rink great times those mid to late 70`s
My parents skated there in the 30s and 40s. I skated there in the fifties and sixties. My daughter skated there in the 70s.
Had one birthday party at Hot Skates in Lynbrook and another at Top Roller in Oceanside (was in the TSS shopping center…).
Loved laces roller rink in New hyde park.Best times ever
My best friend and I had our lives planned to work at Laces when we were older
When I was a kid in Brooklyn, I used to go to United Skates of America on the corner of 60th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway. What beautiful memories of such a great place for a kid to skate that was as close to an adult nightclub / Disco. Such a shame they closed down. Then in the mid 1990’s I was the DJ at the Bayshore Roller rink on Sunrise Highway in Bayshore New york. More fun times but a bad class of people were going there and I remember there were many fights in the parking lot. When I got the job there, the owner really liked the demo cassette I made of my dj skills but insisted that I NOT play any rap or hip hop of any kind to prevent a bad element of people from showing up, still they were already there, as I witnessed many fights in the parking lot and my car was damaged due to that. Fun days though. I wish there were still skating rinks that focused on the fact that a skating rink should be a nightclub on wheels as the music playing today in rinks I attend is just awful and they use Itunes to play music. I ask if they need a real dj and they tell me they use itunes. You can’t mix with itunes. Sad skating days now.
My parents skated in the late ’30’s and early ’40’s. I have some memorabilia from the Mineola Skating Rink, the Wal-Cliffe Rink, the Gay Blades Rink on 52nd St., the Seven-Eleven Rollers, The Rockaway Roller Rink, the Vic Brown rinks in NJ, the Rollerdrome in Culver City, Ca. If anyone would like these items, I’d be happy to send them to you. Please let me know your name and address, and I’ll mail them right out. Hate to waste items that others may want. Thanks. Linda Kay
My parents also skated at walcliff.
My mom and grandfather were members of the seven-eleven rollers
Commack Roller Rink, the best times of my life as a teenager. Skated every weekend from 1987-1993ish with the best speed skates money could buy. Made a lot of great, great friends. In fact, just wished a fellow rink rat friend a Happy Mother’s Day today as we’ve remained friends for over 26 years now even though we both live in different states today.
Those Were the days! Until Reflex opened in Commack, remember that? Right about now I wish I had a time machine!
Then to CMI for a nightcap
Anyone remember the rink at Jones Beach? You had to wear special wooden wheel skates and it was outdoors? I used to LOVE that rink!
I skated at the Jones Beach rink.. occasionally my 46 year old father would put on a pair of skates and show us. . He still had his skating skills. I also skated at Wallcliffe in the winter
I was a little girl ( many years ago ) We lived in the City and for a treat we would some times ride out to Jones Beach and go roller skating. Everyone Aunts , Uncles , cousins. We all had such a good time. Then we would walk along the boardwalk and get an ice cream. What beautiful Summer nights and memories .
Levittown Roller Rink was not around in the 40’s. It opened in the mid-to-late 50’s. I lived nearby and was happy not to have to travel to Mineola any longer
I was at Commack Roller Rink almost every Friday and Saturday night in the early 80s, when I was about 12 years old. It was awesome! Wish I could find more sites like yours. Very little information available about Commack Roller Rink or the Flea Market from back in the day. As someone already said, wish I could time travel back to 1983 at the Roller Rink in Commack. Had a couple of friends, but don’t remember last names.
there’s a group on FB , i just found i was there too in the mid 70-s early 80’s here’s the links https://www.facebook.com/groups/15769105021/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/HeyLongIslandDoURemember/
There was also a rink in Syosset called “Skate Factory” (I think) on the east side of Underhill Blvd just north of Jericho Tpke.
Does anyone remember Big Wheels in Riverhead on Rt. 58? My entire graduating class is having a pissing match on when it opened (what year)…anyone know where I could find this info?
I remember, My mom was the manger at Big Wheels, My step father was the owner , his name was Hugo Surdi.
Do you by any chance have any photos of Big Wheel when it was in operation? About a year before the building was demolished I peeked through the door and took photos of the entry way.
does anybody remember the rink in center reach and the awesome skate sessions there i have many roots going back to bayshore roller rink and use too artistic skate in compete for trophies i will never forget the sunday morning skate club every weekend and i would stay for the skate session in the afternoon at bay shore roller rink i always loved the rink guards and scott and his son scotty jr was a rink guard and also use to play the music as the music guy for some sessions i also remember the commack rink with the epoxy floor so many great memories of rinks and moments over the years if theres anybody that use to attend the artistic skate club on sunday mornings would love to connect online
The Centereach rink was called “GoodSkates” and the one on Sunrise Hwy in Bayshore was USA “United Skates of America”. I skated at GoodSkates every Sunday for years. On of the regulars there was Bill Butler who was the skating coordinator for the movie “Roll, Bounce”.
No, you’re off. Centereach opened up and stayed as USA United States of America for years until it was bought out and they changed the name to goodskates. Bay shore wasn’t USA it was America on wheels. I went to both and skater on both of their speed teams.
I recall skating at New Lane Elementary School in Coram every Friday night in the fall of 1972. I can only suspect that the school which was brand new designed their gymnasium to afford us the opportunity to skate on their wooden floors. Anyone else remember this?
Wallcliff Skating Rink in Elmont, NY was a great place for families. We need more fun places.
2002 in sayville which later became the flea market.
That was the best rink!
I wish i could find some photos of it online.
If you ever do, I’d love to see them. I LOVED THAT RINK and the skateboard section too. Pat-Med class of 83!
all weather roll and ice sunrise highway copiague. it also had bingo.
Johnny all weather rink across from Johnny all weather drive in movie theatre!!!
Did you ice skate with the Leduc’s in the 70s??
Johnny all weather roller rink across from Johnny all weather drive in!
Laces was the best place for me, loved going there every weekend. wish we could go back and do it again 🙂
Skateland, Laces, Skateland, Laces, Iceland?
I lived nearby & went to both. Laces sort of reopened & the folks from NYC starting coming in. Urinating everywhere, drinking, etc. I actually got stuck in traffic behind them – they parked their cars on Hillside in the lanes & got out. The neighborhood must have gone bezerk because it went back to ice skating shortly afterwards.
Commack Roller Rink 79′-83’… I was such a good skater, some of us were legendary. Some of the best times….It was a whole different time then….
The very first roller rink I ever went to…it was a converted ICE HOUSE IN SHIRLEY, N.Y. ACROSS FROM KING KULLEN…unfortunately I dont remember the name…but good times were had by all…
Loved Commack Roller Rink as a kid. The north facing entrance wall sported a large mosaic of a couple skating. Was there after school in the 70s I’m thinking from ’75-’78. Was a Cub Scout for a year or two and we held Pack night there once or twice. Definitely remember skating to Funky Town and Off the Wall… likely in a velour shirt and designer jeans. 🙂
Cormack Roller Rink from 1979-early 80s. I remember the day John Belushi died – I heard them talking about it on the radio while I was getting ready to go out to the CRR. I was 13 years old. Gosh, feels like a lifetime ago.
Besides the few mentioned above like Elmont, Levitown, Commack, Lynbrook, Bay Shore, and Centereach, I’ll quickly rant off a few more but I might miss a couple, it’s been a long time. There were also rinks in Northport, Babylon, Smithtown, Middle Island, and Massapequa (still open). Yah, I used to go to them all.
Hi. You have me in this photo. I am the girl dancing with her hand in the air behind the guy in the front. I had to post it https://www.facebook.com/RoseLeo
What about laces???? It was the old iceland then laces but now its skateland.
That’s what we did on a Saturday, we got dropped off and skated all day. I think the one we went to was next to Lum’s. Was it Levittown? Good times.
I was a roller rink gard in bayshore for 6 years !! Best times of my life !! Never forget them
Studio 109 in Babylon. Loved that place. Small skating surface, more of a roller boogie place. Had lounges game rooms. Was like a bar for teens. Everytime I hear Celebrate I go right back there.
Studio 109 Babylon.
I love this blog! Laces in New Hyde Park is where it all happened. So many good times.
Don’t forget the best one, Laces in New Hyde Park!
I was one of the gripping the side railers at the Bay Shore roller rink.
Does anyone remember the Subway roller rink in West Hempstead? It was the underground roller rink across from Shoppers Village. I was a skate guard there in the late 70s. Great memories there.
United Skates of America in Centereach! Skating along to Y.M.C.A. by the Village People. Snowball skates where all the skaters wait by the boards except for one couple who start skating then split, each grabbing a new partner from the waiting edges. Those two couples skate a few rounds then split and grab new partners from the edges. And so on and so on until the entire crowd is skating.
Levittown Rink, Laces and Hot Skates! There is a new one open now in Shirley (Gr8 skates)