As I've mentioned, this summer was all about "Back to the Future." The kids became obsessed with the movie and time travel, thanks to multiple screenings of all three movies (as well as our Lego DeLorean set). It was probably only fitting that last week I finally actually took a trip back in time to the 1980s.
That's the experience the moment you walk inside Glendale's Moonlight Rollerway. This place looks and feels like it's still 1987. The video games? Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga. The tunes? The best of the 80s. (At least, during my visit.) There are no flat screens, no updated technological advances from this century. The world of roller rinks may be the last bastion of the 1980s, untouched.
I was there for an event promoting the new season of "The Goldbergs," the ABC sitcom that (of course) takes place in the 1980s, and has actually shot at the Moonlight Rollerway. The rink remains a popular location for TV, film and commercial shoots, precisely because it still looks like it comes from a sweeter, more innocent era.
KCET gave a history of the Moonlight Rollerway last year. An excerpt:
The Rollerway's origins in Glendale date back to the booming aircraft industry that used to dominate this part of L.A. in the interwar wars; its building was originally a foundry for airplane parts. The end of WWII brought a downturn in the industry and in 1950, the factory's owners sold the space to Harry Dickerman who converted it into Harry's Roller Rink, one of several he ran across Southern California.
If you were to visit the Moonlight right this moment, much of it would still resemble what Harry's looked like when it first opened and that includes the 2.5" maple flooring. At a table next to the snack bar, the Moonlight's current owner, Dominic Cangelosi, pulls out a spare piece of flooring, points to the skate area and informs me, "the floor is original. It's solid maple, no nails," and shows me how the tongue-in-groove shaping of each floor piece keeps everything locked in and tight. "People come here because of the floor," he says. "There's a big difference between skating on this floor than skating on cork floor, which is like tiles, or particle board, or plywood floors that are coated. This floor is smooth and because of the subfloor, when there's a crowd on the floor, [it] sort of gives a little bit."
Cangelosi's owned Moonlight since 1985 but his history with the rink goes back far before that. He was the in-house organist here in the 1960s, after Dickerman had sold the rink to Mildred and Clifford Neschke, who already ran a rink in Pasadena, the original Moonlight Rollerway.
It's worth a read. Meanwhile, a few more pics from my afternoon at the Moonlight with "The Goldbergs" cast:
5110 San Fernando Rd.
Glendale CA 91204
"The Goldbergs" Season 2 returns Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.