Hub, Shir, Molly and I decided to experience the roller disco fandom (despite none of us having any experience in rollerskating). Needless to say, it was a memorable and fun experience... if a little bruising.
The LeFrak Center in Prospect Park is home to Lola Star's Dreamland at Lakeside, which has themed roller discos. The one we went to was Purple Rain themed, so there was a lot of purple and Prince. Some people were dressed up for the theme - they were either in 80s clothing or dressed up in trademark Prince clothes. However, it was hard to tell if they were fans of roller discos or of Prince himself.
At the rink, you could tell who the 'fans' were versus the 'consumers'; people who brought custom skates were usually the very good skaters. People who rented skates, on the other hand, were a mix between beginners and experts. The one way to really tell beyond gear was where people were skating. There seemed to be a type of etiquette established at the rink - people all skated in a big circle, with experts being on the inner part of the band and beginners closer to the rink's sides to grab onto if needed (which we needed to. Frequently). This was the barrier to entry for roller skating. You needed to learn how to skate in order to participate, and some did so with help from friends while others went through a trial and error phase. However, if anyone fell, people were very courteous and helpful - they would lend a hand to help you up and ask if you were okay.
The roller rink also had different activities for the night, including a performer and a danceoff. Most people didn't pay attention to the performer but everyone for the most part stopped skating to come together and watch the danceoff, which means this is probably a trademark activity for roller disco. You could also see some of the more experienced people trying different dance moves while everyone was free skating.
So the core parts of fandom are:
- Performative consumption
- Engaging in impersonation
- Content creation
- Creation of rituals and traditions
All six were covered: people "performed" with dancing and other tricks, while most just stuck to plain skating. There was impersonation in the dressing up like Prince, and some were in 80's attire to fit the roller disco era. The pilgrimage was made to the LeFrak Center. Content creation was perhaps done in the making of the costumes. Rituals and traditions came in the form of the danceoff. Last but not least, people could socialize at the bar next to the rink or with their friends as they skated around - only a few people seemed to be there by themselves.