When you hear “Pop Up Roller Rink,” can you feel the music, see the disco lights, smell the concessions and hear a whirlwind of laughter?
Now take that experience and put it inside a roofed pavilion up against the La Sal Mountains at sunset. Imagine a rental kiosk covered in classic suede roller skates with orange wheels lined up, size two to men’s 12. Now picture old friends and young families taking to the floor and bringing those wheels to life.
Community Skate Night is Moab’s newest monthly happening, falling on the “final Fridays” from 6 to 9 p.m. The free event is popping up at the Old Spanish Trail Pavilion, 10 minutes south of town, at 3641 S. Highway 191.
Local resident Erin Trim spearheaded recent efforts toward the evolution of the event and is surrounded by an enthusiastic team of volunteers who make the event possible.
“There’s several of us who go back as skating buddies,” Trim said. “We played derby together and we
are really passionate about skating.”
Moab Roller Derby began hosting Community Skate Nights at the Center Street Gym several years ago. By the winter of 2014, the group felt the community outreach was yielding a successful turnout.
“[Skating is] just such a joyful thing. You’re in the moment,” Trim said. “We just wanted to get more people out skating.”
Eventually Trim and fellow hosts wanted to create a more accessible and sustainable program, and started “Skate Moab” to represent skating beyond roller derby. Skate Moab applied for several grants and was awarded the MAD grant from the WabiSabi Thrift Store last year. WabiSabi and the MAD grant covered all event supplies: the “skate-mate walkers,” disinfectant, the pop-up trailer, the rental kiosk and signage materials. An anonymous community sponsor donated 70 pairs of skates.
From there, all a “Pop Up Roller Rink” needed was a space to launch.
Fortunately, Belinda McKinney, the administrative assistant at the Old Spanish Trail Arena, heard Trim present the idea at the Grand County Recreation Special Service District Board meeting.
McKinney was the next speaker.
“I told the board that we wanted to support that event,” McKinney said. “That we would like to donate the space.”
The Old Spanish Trail Arena supplies the sound system, pavilion, tables and chairs and assists in advertising.
“We can facilitate any kind of community event and are hosting more and more each year,” McKinney said. “We are hoping the tradition will continue.”
Skate Moab held the soft opening of Community Skate Nights at the pavilion on March 23, and was delighted by an overwhelming turnout.
Xandra Odland of Skate Moab recalls working the event shortly after a late afternoon rain, which led volunteers to be skeptical of the evening’s turnout and success.
“At the soft opening we had constant demand for skates. They were on the floor the entire event,” she said. “We hadn’t anticipated having quite the range of sizes and ages. I think with double the amount of skates we still wouldn’t have had enough.”
While the event could indeed have benefited from more skates, patient spectators got their turn, and in the meantime were able to enjoy concessions and dance music by Skate Moab DJ volunteer John Aldridge.
“There’s a lot of nostalgia behind skating for adults,” Odland said. “It’s a quintessential thing from when they were kids that they then get to share it with kids. At first they are like little newborn deer, getting their legs under them, accepting they might fall, then getting back up again.”
The event provides free rental skates for locals, and $5 rental skates for guests. Personal skates are allowed, and skate-mate walkers and instructions are available on site. For more information on this all-ages, family-friendly event, go to facebook.com/skatemoab.
Skate through the summer in Moab
“At first [beginners] are like little newborn deer, getting their legs under them, accepting they might fall, then getting back up again.”
If you go: Bring your own skates, or rent them on site
When: Every last Friday of the month until mid-October
Where: The Old Spanish Trail Pavilion, 3641 S. Highway 191, Moab.
Cost: Free; Skate rentals free for locals, $5 for guests