Time to roll out the roller skates
HUNTINGTON -- Normally Huntington's roller rinks Roll-A-Rama and Skateland look like the set of a "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" movie, filled with raucous tweens and teens birthday-party-blasting 'round and around.
This weekend, it's an "All-Skate Huntington" as "the big kids" are getting in on some of that old-school cool action.
In fact, this weekend is book-ended with two big roller skating events.
On Friday, Eric Easley, whose e2ntertainment has put on more than 1,000 events since 1999, gets his midnight skate groove on for the second time as Roll-A-Rama hosts "Yo! Old School Adult Skating Party" with DJ Ill Spin plays iconic hip hop, R&B, rock and slow jams from back in the day.
Start time is 11:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22. Admission is $5 advance or $10 at the door. Call 304-529-0909 or get advance tickets at www.skatewv.eventbrite.com. There will be half price tickets for folks dressing from the '90s.
Easley had his first midnight skate a few weeks ago and even on a snow-slammed Friday more than 80 people showed up.
"After 13 years of doing this I've never had an event quite like that before," Easley said. "We had 80 people, and I really didn't know what to expect. We all used to skate when we were in junior high so people still have that nostalgic love for skating. They just don't want to go out and skate with a bunch of 10-year-olds."
The skate under the Friday night disco lights gets pumped with the tunes from DJ iLL Spin, who at the first skate would throw on a three or four song mix, and get out and skate too.
To channel that nostalgic vibe, the Friday night skate is themed for '90s and early 2000s music with iLLSpin throwing some Jodeci, Keith Sweat, TLC, Montel Jordan and other radio stars from that era into the mix.
Easley said he was amazed since about half the people brought their own skates, and some were not only not rusty on the wheels, but showing off plenty of skating game.
"A lot of them didn't even know e2ntertainment and couldn't care if I've been in business for 13 years or 13 weeks, they were just out there skating their (expletive) off and a lot of them could really skate," Easley said. "My man Tyrone the poet from Philadelphia, he came with his own skates and was doing like spin arounds and splits and break-dancing, and he was like 'that's what we do and we've been waiting for this.'"
While Easley is planning on hosting a once-a-month late-night skating session for the college and adult crowd, he's not the only adult bringing a fever for skating to the rink.
Across the city over in Altizer, Skateland is home to the Jewel City Rollergirls, who have got plans brewing for a big weekend that crescendos with a Sunday afternoon bash celebrating their second anniversary.
The live scrimmage and birthday bash runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, at Skateland, 4430 Altizer Ave., Huntington.
Admission is $5 for ages 13 and older, $3 for ages 5 to 12 and free for kids ages 4 and younger.
At Tuesday night practice, coach and co-captain, Melissa "Double Portion" Bundy said the team has come a long way in just two years.
They've now got a roster of two dozen girls (as well as a couple guy referees), and are racheting up the competition with an 11-bout season already on the books.
Jewel City kicks off the season March 10 with a scrimmage in Roanoke, Va., before its regular season matches in such cities as Mount Vernon, Ohio, Morgantown, Louisville, Huber Heights (outside of Cleveland), Athens, and Harrison, Va.
A mother of two who has been mixing it up in roller derby since 2009 when she was with the Jaded Misfits in Bluefield, Bundy, who is 25, said Sunday is a great way for folks to come out and watch the fast-action of flat-track roller derby, which has seen a resurgence as there are now more than 400 leagues worldwide.
Although new Women's Flat-Track Derby rules allow the rough and tumble, kind of "NASCAR on skates" sport to be played on any surface (Chemical Valley plays at the Charleston Civic Center), Jewel City hasn't been able to find a home court as the two local roller rinks are too small -- and larger spaces like the Big Sandy Superstore Arena -- cost-prohibitive.
They practice at 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at Skateland in Altizer, but have yet to be able to have an official Huntington bout.
Mostly a draw for twentysomethings, Sunday's scrimmage will not only feature two of Bundy's sisters, but also their roller derby momma, Kay Bales, 58, who goes by the roller derby name of "Sassy Momma."
After the 5:30 p.m. scrimmage, there will be a meet-and-greet with the fast and furious Derby girls, who've got great skate names like "Sicka Icka, " "JPoww," "Vanilla Thunder," "Country Breakfast," "Lil Rough Edge," Cha Cha Slam-Her," and "Morticia Mayhem."
Bundy, who was back on her skates just a week after having her second child, Toby, who is now 2 months old, said she loves derby because of the great exercise (you have to be able to do 25 laps in five minutes to be on the team), as well as the sisterhood that exists between rollergirls everywhere.
"We also have people from so many different backgrounds from students and nurses to managers and they all come together in one sport that we love," Bundy said.
While the girls hope the Sunday event helps draw in some more fans, and more funds to help the team (supported only by team members), they're already getting some love from the community.
Co-captain, Audrey Hamoy, known as "Gravy, Baby!" and Jen Billups, "Jen O. Cide," said they're stoked that their friend Vince Alonzo, and his co-horts at Brewtal Brewery, are hosting a Saturday night fundraiser called "Beer and Babes," to help support the team in its travels. That takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at 1532 7th Ave., Huntington. Local homebrew will be on tap. Donations for the Jewel City Rollergirls will be accepted.
"It really blows our mind that somebody wants to help us. We didn't know that many people knew about us," Billups said.
"And what's better than local beer and roller derby," Hamoy said with a laugh.
Indeed. Bundy said she's excited for the high profile weekend to let people know the Jewel City Rollergirls are out repping, rolling and jamming for the city and a sport they love.
"We are super excited for the weekend because we want to be involved in the community," Bundy said. "Huntington means a lot to us. That's why we chose the name Jewel City. We want to make sure people know about Huntington and that Huntington is a force to be reckoned with."
All Skate Huntington, All Skate
Here's a look at some of the roller skating events this weekend.
Friday: E2ntertainment presents: Yo! Old School Adult Skating Party. From 11:30 p.m. Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 22-23, at Roll-A-Rama, 137 7th Ave., Huntington. Celebrate Black History Month as DJ Ill Spin plays iconic hip hop, R&B, rock and slow jams from back in the day. Skate rental included. Admission is $5 advance or $10 at the door. Call 304-529-0909 or get advance tickets at www.skatewv.eventbrite.com.
Saturday: Brewtal Brewery presents a fundraiser for the Jewel City Rollergirls at 1532 7th Ave., Huntington at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. Check out six new homebrews for a donation to help the Rollergirls.
Sunday: The Jewel City Rollergirls are celebrating a Birthday Bash for their second-year anniversary from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, at Skateland, 4430 Altizer Ave., Huntington. Enjoy a live scrimmage from the roller derby team. Admission is $5 for ages 13 and older, $3 for ages 5 to 12 and free for kids ages 4 and younger. Go online at www.jewelcityrollergirlz.com for more information.