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Rolling Down Memory Lane

Calgary is saying goodbye to one of its most memorable buildings: Rollerland in Forest Lawn. Opened in 1975, it was a originally a warehouse, a one story cement building within walking distance of a junior high and three high schools.
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Calgary is saying goodbye to one of its most memorable buildings: Rollerland in Forest Lawn. Opened in 1975, it was a originally a warehouse, a one story cement building within walking distance of a junior high and three high schools. The rink closed officially in the late 1990s, and was a club venue for rent until 2010 when it was purchased by the Brenda Stafford Foundation. It will be demolished over the next few months to make way for a seniors' home.

In the meantime, people are taking to Facebook to share our love of their old roller skating rink through groups like “You Know You Grew Up in Forest Lawn If...” I recalled a time when for a dollar you could get in, rent skates and still have enough for a coca cola. Inside was a snack bar and arcade games. I spent many Sundays looking at boys, as I tried to keep up with my best friend, who was a much better skater than I was.

Local resident Beverly Jervis Schroeder remembers that when Rollerland opened, disco was invading every aspect of life. The rink was set up with lights all over the ceiling and Beverly says she loved the flash, “The disco ball in the middle was the best. They only let us have speed skating once a night for one song.” “I remember [a man named] Fonzi”, recalls Kerry Armstrong, “He was a pretty rad roller-skater and would do the splits around every corner he went, his hair and attire was very similar to the real Fonz.”

Roller skating wasn't just for young people high on Saturday Night Fever: It was generational as well. Cindy Comeau started going there right after it opened when she was 13. “They had skating Tuesday and Thursday evenings. We would go right after school. I even took my two oldest there.” Samantha Tomlinson was a younger skater: “I went in the late 80's with my aunt. It was a lot of fun with disco lighting, loud music and lots of people. I remember old school burger joint type tables and their cafeteria style food. My aunt lived just across the street a bit so we went there a lot. The roller land sign was a landmark when giving directions!”

The rink also served as place to meet boys or girls. Meleena Campbell remembers: “I used to go there on Friday and Sunday nights when it was half off admission. It was one of my favourite things to do, and a couples dance was a great excuse to hold hands with a boy when your mom normally wouldn't let you.”

Lori Bauer is one of the few people who worked there: “I lived there,” she says. “I skated almost every night from 10 years old. Plus I worked there for a few years. The owners were amazing. Still friends with them years later on FB. I met my [best friend] there when I was about 14 and we are still close today. It holds so many special memories for me. I even still have my speed skates I wore!” Others shared with me that the music kept them coming back. Mike McMillan remembers the great music: “I used to go there in the 70s, remember the loud music and flashing lights. The songs that I always associate with that place is Roxy Roller and December 1963 song from Frankie Valli.”

It's been great to read all the memories posted online, but the sad part is that there's very little photographic evidence of the place. Thanks to the internet, however, I was able to find a television advertisement on YouTube from 1983. I searched for “Rollerland advertisement 1983 Calgary.” Barrie Koltusky identified his friend Rick Taylor as the guy tying up his skates at the beginning. “I work with the old bugger. We saw the video a year ago and it was his sister that pointed it out that it was Rick. He didn't even recognize himself.”

use the picture from the Calgary Herald article, and dont forget to credit them.

http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/once-iconic-rollerland-demolished-to-make-way-for-seniors-housing

Picture 1:

Disco rollerskating at Rollerland, October 1978. Published in the Calgary Herald, October 7, 1978.

Original caption: “Norm Leymay showing his moves on the disco skate floor. Girls admire guys who can disco skate."

Picture 2:

A still from a 1983 commercial for Rollerland, with Rick Taylor tying up his laces. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23M5H5N-KYQ