When the text appeared in the Blog Preston WhatsApp chat asking who wanted to attend the Roller World Preston opening day, I couldn’t reply quickly enough.Advertisement
After flirting with the idea of signing up with local roller derby team Preston Roller Girls earlier this year, I was keen to see if the decision not to do so had been a giant waste of untapped talent.
Like many people of my generation I have fond memories of skating around on wheels in my 1980s youth. From those strap-on death traps that went over your shoes to the later innovation of rollerblades, I did it all.
So it’s Friday 27 July and I’m off to the opening, with my fellow skate-curious gal pal Jen.
It’s a warm and sticky evening, so we wonder whether anybody would have chosen to spend time inside, but when we arrive at the Campbell Street venue off New Hall Lane, customers are queuing out of the door.
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On first entering the venue we’re struck by how large and how loud it is. Welcome to Roller Disco – taking place every Friday and Saturday between 6pm and 9pm on the 8,000 sq ft rink. A DJ brings the tunes and the light show, and it’s three hours for the price of two. The Roller World Preston website describes it as “Saturday Night Fever, 2018 style and on skates”.
You can take your own skates and pads or hire them, so we get our hire skates on and, with some difficulty, head on to the rink. I feel a bit uncertain and am turning like a tanker, but Jen takes to skating, almost like a duck to water. In among throwing some of those jerky arms you do when you think you’re about to fall, she starts doing leg cross-overs while sailing around the rink’s corners.
Impressive stuff, but not quite as impressive as some of the skaters on the rink. We spot a few pros, skating backwards, doing fancy stops etc., and realise some of them are from Preston Roller Girls. As well as the above-average skating skills, these roller derby girls are easy to spot in their light-up skates and sequined hot pants.
We’re in awe. It’s like going for a kick-about at the park and realising Sean Maguire and Ben Pearson are there too. As Ferris Crueller, Kim Pain and Speedith Rigby roll rings around us, we stare like star-struck kids.
We’re brought back down to earth when a kid literally goes crashing to the floor, and one of the British Roller Sport Federation coaches rushes to help. It’s a timely reminder that you really do need to take care on the rink, so we take a break for drinks and a cool down, and check out the burger bar menu. It’s cheap and cheerful, with the Roller Classic burger priced at £2.95, and meal deals for £4.95. Alongside the cafe is a pool table and arcade games.
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Manager Shane Robinson comes over for a chat. He explains that Roller World Preston is the brainchild of local entrepreneurs Haydn Price, Darren Ofsarnie and Francis Faldounthe, who are also behind Wacky World next door, plus Switch Nightclub.
Apparently roller skating rinks are a country-wide trend, and skate enthusiasts from Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester have been here for the opening day. Shane says the feedback from these expert skaters has been very positive. This comes as no surprise when he admits that pre-opening research involved visiting rinks across the north west to cherry-pick their best bits.
There’s been lots of interest on social media, and tickets for tonight and tomorrow sold out within 24 hours of the site going live. Shane explains there is currently a maximum of 50 skaters per session, but this may be adjusted. The rink can be hired out for private parties, and there are plans to hold theme nights, including a 1980s disco complete with fancy dress.
We head back on to the rink for a final skate. It’s already getting easier to manoeuvre, and I’m pretty proud of myself when I successfully dodge through a group of wayward kids without seriously injuring any of them or myself. In the car on the way home, Jen is buzzing and already asking when we can go back again.
While we decide that roller derby may not be our thing (despite creating awesome names for ourselves – Acid Raine and The Barracuda, if you’re interested), another visit to the Roller Disco is definitely on the cards.
Have you been to Roller World Preston? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.