Matthew Thomas


The New Yorker: Jackson Heights, Roller Skates

From the Culture Desk:

Our rink, long gone now, was the USA Roller Skating Rink, on Roosevelt Avenue. It was a miniature democracy that gathered all ages, sexes, races, and styles to vote with their wheels when a new song came over the speakers. Pre-teen birthday partygoers shared space with older funky characters in technicolor outfits, who weaved backwards between them like comets, their legs scissoring, their arms waving to the beat. When the d.j. switched it up—“Let’s bring all the girls out here now, girls only,” or “This song goes out to the couples”—the mood changed, became more interesting, more complicated. The boys, unimpeded by returned gazes, went to watch the bodies of their crushes move blessedly through space. The older generation took to the floor to skate-dance amid subdued light shows, in a communion that countered the atomization captured in the classic study “Bowling Alone” (whose thesis may explain the contemporary rise in roller derby). People seek community, and sometimes they find it on skates. Continue reading...

©2017 Matthew Thomas