Roller Skating: Setting the Scene for Success
Tips for Best Music, Lighting, Carpeting and Paint Practices at Roller Skating Centers

March 1, 2014 No Comments

While many skating centers feature new lighting technology like lasers and black lights, VanHouten said that the disco ball is still king of the rink. “The old standard is still the disco ball,” she said. “Everybody always wants to make sure the disco ball’s going.” Moonlight Rollerway has made some advancements in lighting, according to VanHouten. “We have added a little bit of lighting, some dancing lights that go along with the music,” she said. “That’s always fun, the way it reflects off the finish on the floor.”

While the old standards still reign, many skating centers are converting to modern LED lights. “We switched over to LED because the bulbs last a lot longer and they use a lot less energy,” said Mike Pattison, owner of Pattison’s West Skating Center in Federal Way, Wash. “They blink off and on and do different designs to the beat of the music.” Astro Skate and Family Fun Center in Pinellas Park, Fla., has also recently switched to LED lights, according to owner, Chris Marganias. “We’ve upgraded all of our light systems with the LED stuff,” he said, “with the DMX controllers and fog machines.”

At Cal Skate Rohnert Park in Rohnert Park, Calif., changes, including refurbished lighting with new strobe lights and music-driven flashing colored lighting, have been made to give late night sessions “a more nightclub feel,” according to the owner

At Cal Skate Rohnert Park in Rohnert Park, Calif., changes, including refurbished lighting with new strobe lights and music-driven flashing colored lighting, have been made to give late night sessions “a more nightclub feel,” according to the owner

At Cal Skate Rohnert Park in Rohnert Park, Calif., owner Jeannie Saya, said that they’ve made changes to give their late night sessions “a more nightclub feel.” “Our lighting has recently been refurbished and updated with new strobe lights and music-driven flashing colored lighting,” she said. “A new projector with a much more vibrant picture has been another important addition. We use it for stills, ambient video and music video. The screen is large and draws attention from the moment someone enters the facility.”

When it comes to paint, bright colors are still best. “Our rinks are real bright,” said Marganias. “Our main color is pink, outside and inside. We go with glow-in-the-dark with black lights, and we like to pink out our whole place.” “Everything has a lot of color to it,” said Pattison. “We have colored lights that hit the wall, so that adds a lot of color.” Cal Skate Rohnert Park’s color scheme has recently been updated. Saya said they were “getting rid of the 70s green and gold and going with ‘party’ colors: orange, green and yellow.”

New carpeting is planned for Cal Skate Rohnert Park’s future. “We are considering using carpet squares in high traffic areas and ‘family fun center’ carpet in our upper snack bar and front lobby,” said Saya. VanHouten prefers to stick with the classics for paint and carpeting. “There is black light carpet, if your rink goes for that,” she said, “but I think just something happy and upbeat that keeps people wanting to be in the party mood.”

Selecting music is one of the biggest challenges facing roller skating centers today. “The music gets more trying every year,” Maganias explained, “because there’s so much stuff that’s borderline that you really can’t and shouldn’t play for little kids. So you have to do your homework and listen to them and find out what they’re talking about, because a lot of times it doesn’t sound like anything’s wrong until you find out what they’re talking about.” To keep the center “G-rated,” Maganias said, “We don’t really play a lot of the hard hip-hop, mostly middle-of-the-road top 40.”

“Some of the music needs to be edited,” Pattison agreed. “So we have to make sure we get the edited version.” Saya said she also faces the challenge of filtering out inappropriate lyrics. “We avoid playing anything explicit,” she said, “but try to satisfy the requests by finding ‘radio edits’ or ‘clean versions’ of requested songs.”

At Pattison’s West Skating Center, the music mostly leans toward top 40, but Pattison said he likes to “mix it up; play a little bit of country and some classic rock n’ roll once in a while.” Pattison said he doesn’t get involved in the music selection process. “I’m 64,” he explained, “so I’m not the one who does that. I wouldn’t have any customers, probably.” Instead, Pattison delegates that responsibility to his son. “He’s the one that is in more communication with the kids,” he said.

A close-up of the mirror ball at Cal Skate Rohnert Park. Birthday celebrants get to make a song request as part of the party package. “I believe that requesting music gives the customer (especially kids) a feeling of importance and active participation in a session,” the owner said.

A close-up of the mirror ball at Cal Skate Rohnert Park. Birthday celebrants get to make a song request as part of the party package. “I believe that requesting music gives the customer (especially kids) a feeling of importance and active participation in a session,” the owner said.

Cal Skate Rohnert Park takes a modern approach to music requests. “We are currently using Spotify for our music program,” said Saya. “It has never been easier to satisfy our customers’ music requests. We start off a session with an existing playlist, and then add requests. The list we end up with is 90 percent requests!” Birthday parties at Cal Skate Rohnert Park allow customers a special privilege. “One popular feature of our Birthday Party Package is including a song request from the birthday celebrant that is dedicated to them with an announcement,” said Saya. “They have ‘first rights’ to song requests and are invited by name to make them with the DJ.” Granting requests helps keep customers coming back to any skating center. As Saya explained, “I believe that requesting music gives the customer (especially kids) a feeling of importance and active participation in a session.” -

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