(Number Two of a Series)
I was first introduced to the Euclid Rollerdrome in 2004, and thought that it was, far and away, the best skating floor that I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe how smooth and well kept the floor was. The floor’s excellent condition was because of the efforts of the rink’s owner, Keith Broda, who was a dedicated skater and lover of roller skating. He really did a tremendous job keeping up the floor, if not the rest of the building. It remains, in my mind, the most ideal roller skating experience in memory.
It was a complete surprise to all of us who regularly attended the adult skating sessions when the Rollerdrome closed in October of 2008. It closed without warning, and our regular group of skaters migrated to United Skates of America for a brief period afterward. It was a letdown to skate on USA’s floor in comparison to the old Rollerdrome floor. The USA floor was not as well kept as in previous years and skating sessions in 2008 and early 2009. There were several slick spots on the floor where there was moisture from the overhead air conditioning units. It was also very dirty (my wheels were absolutely filthy after each session) and there were bits of debris on the floor where you could experience a sudden stop if you ran over something. During one session, I witnessed a young lady barely get out onto the floor when one of her wheels caught a bearing or a loose item on the floor, and she fell and fractured both wrists. From that moment on, I was concerned for my safety and my wife’s safety, and I knew that I would be scaling back from skating there unless there was a dramatic change to the floor conditions.
It was about five months since the Rollerdrome closed that The Big Rumor began to circulate throughout the roller skating crowd…The Rollerdrome was going to reopen! A loyal friend of our group of skaters was trying to open up his own skating rink business. I was hoping for the best but preparing for the worst because it was almost too good to be true–especially in the present economy where businesses were closing…not opening. Nonetheless, there was a definite buzz in the air for a few weeks as we kept hearing about it more and more, but we could not confirm anything…until we heard that there was now a projected opening date at the old Rollerdrome. When the word got out that there was a grand opening coming in the Spring of 2009, the management at USA tried to entice attendees with a super-discounted session the following week, but there was no way that I would be coming back if the old Rollerdrome was open again…it was no contest. No, I haven’t gone back since then.
The grand opening of the Pla-Mor Roller Rink was a moment that I compared to the movie Field of Dreams. It was an amazing sight to see the rink on opening night. Bright colors…a clean floor…the newly decorated walls…lights…sounds of a booming speaker system. Yes, it was the same floor in the same building that I remember, but with new signage, new posters, and fresh coats of paint. It was a thing of beauty to me. There was nothing grand or magnificent about it on the surface…it was merely a place where I was now able to pick up where I left off at Rollerdrome and build on those wonderful memories with some new ones…and enjoy skating once more.
The name Pla-Mor was a revival of an old skating rink near University Circle, and the name takes on the same meaning for those who skated there as it does for those of us who remember the glory days at Southgate, the older United Skates of America, and the Rollerdrome (for more on the ownership of the new rink, please refer to this article on the rink from June 2009 on Cleveland.com).
Pla-Mor’s floor is one of the best in the Cleveland area for skating. The floor has not always been as exceptionally clean as the Rollerdrome floor, but it is still more than acceptable for skid-free skating. The management, in fact, does an excellent job keeping debris off of the floor surface and makes sure that any issues that may develop are handled quickly. It was recently resurfaced with a heavy varnish that took some getting used to when it was first applied, but the end result was an improvement to the surface after the rink’s reopening. I enjoy fast skating on the outside of the rink, and a good grip is critical. My wife is more of a dancer, and the skate surface in the center area is smooth and free of obstruction (I learned recently that not all floor surfaces in the center area are smooth…some surfaces are not sanded down properly and some can be so poor that they are warped.). The Pla-Mor surface is firm and is a good fit with Bones wheels, as long as the floor is clean and free of excess dirt and your own wheels are clean. I have been using a soft window-like cleaner to clean my wheels before every session to prevent unnecessary buildup. A quick tip—if you use too harsh of a cleaner on your wheels, you could cause premature deterioration and dull their surface, which would adversely affect your grip and traction.
The floor of the Pla-Mor rink is a decent size. At one time, the USA floor in Wickliffe was one of the largest that I had ever seen, but over time, the floor had lost real estate because of extra seating in the audience and because of the addition of laser tag in an adjacent area. Pla-Mor has no obstructions or areas that can encroach the floor. There is bench and chair seating available on three sides of the floor as well as an ample supply of lockers where you can pay an extra dollar to lock your personal belongings. There is also a snack bar available, but a lady has been bringing in meals and desserts every week for about five dollars a plate that would rival most Thanksgiving dinner menus. The air conditioning, at times, has strained to keep the rink at an optimal level of comfort, and the music has been more often good than outright bad. There is much to be thankful for in that the diehard roller skaters now have a place to go once more each week to create more great memories.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.