Raising the skates at Runner Rink

(arts) roller rink

“Ready? Skate!” The announcer bellows his announcement as a flash of strobe lights stream across the ballroom, illuminating the multi-colored squares of tile that four different pairs of skates just zoomed over. Skaters are decked out in high-waisted blue jeans, tucked-in shirts and high-top socks. Is this the 90s? Nope, it’s UTSA’s Runner Rink.

Held in the HUC Ballroom for all students, Runner Rink literally brought out the brightest in everyone that came out to skate. Though the theme of the night was the best of the 90s, many styles from the 80s seemed to seep into the bloodstream of the night’s festivities.

The neon colors of the tiles placed squarely along the ballroom floor perfectly accented the side-ponytails and acid-washed jeans of the retrofitted skaters. A makeshift arcade playing old favorites like Super Mario World bleep-blooped quietly next to the skate rental tables. Not far off you could hear students either belting out or caterwauling their way through old favorites by Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey at the curtained karaoke booth in the corner of the ballroom.

Not satisfied to just recreate the glory days of the roller rink, the event came into full swing with the announcement of a dance contest on skates. Three teams of four lined across the edge of the skate platform, eager to pump up and please the encroaching crowd that was making their way to cheer on their favorites.

The first group of guys tried their best to pump up the crowd to the tune of Future’s gut-punch banger “Commas,” but the squad soon realized cool demeanor doesn’t translate to good balance. Unable to demonstrate any impressive tricks, along with one member dropping to the floor like it was hot, the crowd simply wasn’t impressed.

The second group, made up of a rag-tag group of girls, came out with an attitude all their own. What they lacked in skating tricks they made up in charisma and enthusiasm, rolling around to the hard-hitting beat of DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” and even prompting the entire crowd to get their hands up. And they stayed there!

The last group of contestants seemed doomed to become disqualified without a fourth member. Gavin Sumwalt was dancing wildly in the corner of the rink before a group of people pushed him into the competition. As soon as the announcer said the word “Go,” Sumwalt – visibly timid, yet excited – slowly but surely led his team through routines even they couldn’t keep up with. Sumwalt wowed the crowd by balancing on the fronts of his wheels and spinning each foot in a myriad of directions while gliding across the floor, all to the beat of Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson’s hit “Uptown Funk.”

Sumwalt’s nervous demeanor concealed an incredible set of moves, to which he credits his friends’ teachings. “I learned off a bunch of my friends,” said Sumwalt. “I’m from Indiana, but I came here and basically saw a bunch of people doing it too and thought I’d try it out for awhile.”

Upon announcing the winners of the skate-off, it was apparent that both the first and last group of boys were no match for the girl power that the second team had on their side. The ladies were asily getting the most crowd response at the mention of their name as the champions of the event. Despite the loss, Sumwalt seemed unfazed as he headed back to the wall he previously occupied.

After all, it’s his and others’ love for the activity that brought them to the Runner Rink in the first place. “Just the fact of skating in general excites me,” Sumwalt said. “I’ve been skating for six years, just thought I’d come for a little while, skate a bit. I’ve had a blast.”