The roller skating parties in junior high were the Oscar parties of the Midwest in our generation. Tickets went on sale about two weeks prior to the big event. Outfits were selected and the rumors started.
Who would ask someone “to go with them” right before the skating party? Who would break up with someone so they could find someone better? So much was riding on our social status before the much anticipated skating party.
Of course it was a given that everyone already knew how to roller skate. Learning to roller skate was pretty much like learning everything else back in the day. Like the old Nike commercial, we just did it. We didn’t have a lifestyle coach or parents who sent us to expensive classes to learn anything. We just put on the skates and took off.
To be honest, at the roller skating party there wasn’t much emphasis on actual roller skating anyway. I really can’t remember anyone doing fancy tricks or jumps. Once in a while a few of the guys would try to go as fast as they could and pass as many people as possible. But that wasn’t even remotely the point of the skating party.
This was all about social conformity, looking cool, and finding the right boyfriend or girlfriend if possible. The ultimate test of our social status was when Rockin’ Robin was played. Rockin Robin by Michael Jackson wasn’t just a song, it was the highlight of the roller skating party. This was what happened when Rockin’ Robin kicked into gear.
The girls lined up against the wall while the boys skated around the rink. One by one, they picked us off the wall, grabbing our hands when we were chosen to be their partner. Yes, the most popular girls were chosen first and those who weren’t chosen at all nearly died of humiliation.
I know, this isn’t the least bit politically correct and people under forty are probably about ready to stroke out. But this was how life was back in the day, so get over it.
Then there was the ride home on the dark skating party school bus. Should I even go on? Yes, everyone paired up, at least in the back seats. The unchosen ones sat in the front seats with the teachers. The lucky ones would couple up and scurry to the back seats for a massive make out session.
The teachers knew what went on and did nothing. The bus driver would turn on the 70’s radio station as loud as possible and chill out for the 45-minute ride back to the school. Parents would be waiting in the school parking lot to pick up their children at 10 pm on a school night.
We’d have two, maybe three of these raucous events each school year. As soon as the drama of one skating party ended, it wouldn’t be long before it all started again.
Some may argue that all this stress and tension made us stronger. Some might conclude that it caused irreparable harm and much of the mental illness people suffer from today. No matter what your opinion, this was the skating party era, and it happened, back in the day.