For the past couple of years the Skating Place in Golden Gate Park has been my second home. Here’s a little taste of what makes it so magical.
It’s a Tuesday in late August in San Francisco. It’s been annoyingly chilly the past few days, but the sun is out today! A perfect time to hit the rink.
After work, I arrive with my skates and my bluetooth speaker. I’m excited to show off my new baggy pants I just got from a local Tibetan store. A half dozen folks are there already, happily zipping around the rink. Another skater has his speaker already set up, but he tells me to take over since he’s about to leave.
I do my normal setup routine: a quick stretch, throw on my skates, and set up my speaker in the middle of the rink. I start to play some chill skate music – Silk Sonic, Janet Jackson, Doja Cat. My friend Kenny arrives soon after and we swap out my smaller speaker for his beefier one.
As the evening goes on, more and more skate friends arrive – Kim, Cody, Franky, Betta, Jess and more. We cheer as our friend Barbara arrives after a six week trip to Europe. She looks excited and a little nervous to get back on the rink.
Weekday evenings at the rink have a chill, casual vibe. A couple of folks who just started skating wobble around the rink. A guy who has been skating about a month is starting to find his groove going backwards. “Getting smooth wit it!” I call to him. “Trying!” he smiles back.
A gaggle of kids on bikes and scooters arrive and start zipping around the rink in all directions – really cute but a huge hazard for everyone! Fortunately their parents arrive soon after and usher them along to a safer spot for them to ride.
I play my usual weird mix of hip-hop, R&B, and K-pop. There are some clunkers, but more hits than misses I think. “DC Go Go!” Cody shouts at me, pleased, when I put on “Love” by Chuck Brown. “Ooo I like that 90s rap” Kenny tells me, after I put on a Too Short joint.
Some folks are working on skate choreo in the middle. Barbara is excited to discover she hasn’t forgotten all the routines. I’m practicing corkscrews, which are my nemesis currently. Folks cheer as Kenny and Daniel do a very energetic combo of burpees followed by lunging forward into a precarious toes-out position. I’m sweating just looking at them.
Random tourists stop by and take pictures and videos of us all evening. Just a normal part of being in the middle of a public park. It’s funny to think of the hundreds of tourists from Ohio and Berlin who have a random pic of you in their albums.
It starts getting dark around 8pm. Amo arrives on his bike with his usual set of speakers and LED lights. Soon the rink is bumping with party music as he throws on the latest by Beyoncé.
A woman I just met tells me “I knew there was a reason I had to come today! I was lying on my couch at 7:15 and I said ‘girl, you gotta get moving!’.”
I’m getting tired so with some regret I decide to call it a night. Tomorrow is another day, another skate.