Clubbers on wheels shake some sporty ass

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By Amanda Factor

Remember the good old days when couples went out dancing together? Charles Khabouth, owner of the Kool Haus and Guvernment nightclub complex, is trying to recreate that time every Sunday night. He calls it Rolla Boogie, a fresh alternative to clubbing. Inspired by Seventies roller discos, it’s a chance for clubbers to strap on skates and roll around to some freaky retro tunes.

While roller rinks have been around for decades, Khabouth has big plans to make Rolla Boogie a hot stop on the modern club circuit. He wants to have a themed buffet table professional blader shows, guest Djs in the club’s Orange Room, the chance to win prizes and a different theme every week.

“Superboogie ‘o1, the Sunday before Halloween, will be the biggest,” he enthuses.

The opening night of Rolla Boogie at Kool Haus on Thanksgiving Sunday is kind of, well, dead. About 20 patrons circle a floor dappled in rainbow lights to the soulful sounds of funk, disco and Motown. Unfortunately, the disco deputed when many clubbers went home for the holidays.

“We wanted more of a soft opening to test it out,” says Khabouth, who got the idea from watching bands roller blade before they went on stage.

Rolla Boogie’s decor combines modern designs with retro-themed visual stimulation. There’s the standard disco ball and a video collage of snippets from pure Eighties trash TV, from Mr. T to old pudding commercials. It is, indeed, the old made new.

The majority of people are wearing full safety gear and look like they rollerbladed right off the street. Save for a new wannabe disco queens, the look is casual and athletic – no skinfest here.

There isn’t a hint of pretension. Everyone’s here for the good, clean fun. Picking up is absent from the agenda. Drinking and smoking are minimal, with Guru energy drinks preferred over cocktails. Skaters fall, but no one points and laughs. One girl lands right on her butt and a concerned security guard and the sparkly female MC rush over. No one seems afraid of being goofy. There are groups that look suspiciously like families. Fortysomethings bob their heads simultaneously to the sounds of their youth. It’s like being at a club with your parents.

Cute couples float by hand-in-hand, a testament to the nostalgic atmosphere Khabouth is trying to recreate. Overall, people keep to themselves and the loud music makes conversation difficult. Hooking up doesn’t seem to be happening, though the night is still young.

Still, Rolla Boogie is a great opportunity to show off fancy moves or, for couch potatoes, to blow the dust off your blades and wobble around the floor to some buttshaking music. It’s a welcome escape from the meat-market mentality of nightclubs. And at least if you do happen to run into someone who bugs you, getting away is easy.

Rolla Boogie is at the Kool Haus on Sundays, 6 p.m. – 2 a.m. It’s 19+ and $10 at the door.

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