Roller disco Down & Derby is a lively nightlife alternative

Down and Derby at the Gold Spike
Bill Hughes

It was somewhere between the muscled man in cut-off booty shorts falling right at my feet—twice—and the conga line of badass ladies snaking through the crowd at high speed that I decided I wouldn’t be lacing up any roller skates. Did I miss out? Damn right I did!

It’s a good thing then that I’ll get another opportunity to lace ’em up next month, when roller disco Down & Derby returns to the Gold Spike as part of its new PYT #RetroWednesdays promotion.

Just like the dancefloors down the street on the Strip, the Gold Spike’s roller rink took some time to warm up at D&D’s March 18 relaunch. Only a handful of skaters were rolling around early on, but one dude in a sweet holographic shirt, afro wig and aviator shades was keeping the party momentum going with some killer dance moves (on skates, people, on skates!) and occasionally rolling around two stuffed-animal dogs who—you guessed it—were both sporting skates, as well.

Down & Derby Roller Disco

Inspired by the Roxy roller-skating party in New York City, Down & Derby actually has some roots right here in the Valley: Beauty Bar hosted an edition in 2009, and the event moved to the Palms and Hard Rock Hotel before going on hiatus in 2012. With a mission to “[bring] roller disco back to the forefront,” Down & Derby is “putting wheels on a whole new generation of skaters” across the country, with installments now in nine other U.S. cities like New York, Pittsburgh and LA.

Soon the crowd had swelled, both on and off the rink. Laced up and ready to roll, many took their cocktails on the floor as bars flanked the rink (think Surrender Nightclub meets Crystal Palace). And while target-demo Millennials certainly came out in droves, they were joined by some who probably hit the roller disco back when disco actually was king. Young to old, hipsters to hip-hoppers, singles to couples and groups, Down & Derby definitely draws a diverse crowd.

While the event is a roller disco, it was obvious from the soundtrack and attendees’ ensembles (think gold lamé and ’70s workout attire meets the fanny packs and neon of the ’80s) that a wide spectrum of retro is embraced at the nightlife alternative. Disco-era hits like Stevie Wonder’s “Do I Do” and George Benson’s “Give Me the Night” were complemented by ’80s synth-pop (Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer”) and hip-hop tracks spanning decades, from Young MC (“Bust a Move”) and Beastie Boys (“Brass Monkey”) to Sir Mix a Lot (“Jump on It”) and Kriss Kross (“Warm It Up”) and more recent tunes from Nelly and Jay Z.

While I didn’t muster up the courage to take to some skates that night, I refuse to be a roller-rink wallflower next time around. Now, I just gotta work on my moves ...

Down & Derby Every third Wednesday, 9 p.m., free entry and skate rental (while they last). Gold Spike, sk8party.com.

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