The Tragic Lives of Roller Rink Disk Jockeys
on 2/19/2006 (4)
It was the height of the 1980's and roller rinks were all the rage. For those of us who grew up during this time, maybe you had a party at the roller rink. Maybe you had a friend that invited you to a party at the roller rink. Maybe you wished you had a friend so you could be invited to a party at the roller rink. Whatever the case may have been, the roller rink was the happening place to be.
|Back in the day, when it was all fun and games... |
And the undisputed King of the Roller Rink was the Roller Rink Disc Jockey. He sat silently at his post, hair slicked back, wearing a bright red "Members Only" jacket that was the envy of the rink. The only time he ever broke his silence was to announce a "backward skate" or to run down the specials at the concession stand. He didn't need to speak, the music he played did that for him as the rink stereo system belted out the greatest hits of the B52s, Poison, and a dozen other hair bands. Women and children loved him, old people feared him. He controlled the rink like it was his own private third world dictatorship. He picked the songs, he choose the direction to skate, and he told you went it was time to "limbo" or "wipeout".
Life was good for the Roller Rink Disc Jockey. After the rink closed, there was never a shortage of women, parties, and fine cocaine. He worked hard during the day and he played hard at night before crashing in his $1,000 a month studio apartment or in his private beach house on a offshore island he had just purchased.
And then the unthinkable happened. Like Black Tuesday years ago, the bottom fell out of the roller rink industry. Attendance dropped, concession stand sales plummeted, and soon rinks all across America were closing their doors. Some attribute this to the sudden rise of grunge music, others claim it was a product of the end of the Cold War. Whatever the reason, the public quickly forgot about the roller rink and cast aside those who they had once worshipped.
"I really took for granted how good I had things," said former rink jockey James Walsh. "I loved my job, I had all the money and women a man could ever need, and for once my parents weren't horribly disappointed that I dropped out of high school to pursue my dream of getting drunk on weekdays. But then my figurative house of cards collapsed."
|Even OJ Simpson was a fan of roller rinks... and he's famous! Wow! |
Citing a huge decline in attendance that year, the Happy Duck Skateporium closed its doors for good and it's employees were left jobless and ill qualified for other work. Most had never worked anywhere else and few had skills beyond skating, serving drinks, or spinning records.
"What other job is there where you can sit down in front of a large collection of records and play requested songs all day long," rhetorically questioned Walsh. "None that I've ever heard of."
Walsh tried to perform at birthday parties, bar mitzvah, and the occasional Cinco de Mayo but it wasn't enough. Soon bills pilled up, bills that Walsh could not pay.
"I had immense gambling debts, a huge electricity bill because of all the fluorescent bulbs I used to keep my marijuana plants alive, a giant car payment for my matching set of Ferraris, and three<
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