Most Tuesdays, a group of familiar faces rendezvous at Lewisville’s Interskate rink, the wood floor serving as a neutral melting pot, joining adults and children of all backgrounds together for a night of fun.
More than 30 years ago, Missouri transplant Todd Vanderstelt became one of the first disc jockeys at Interskate. Today, he still enjoys playing the latest music, leading group games and making his way onto the floor as often as possible.
Vanderstelt, a former ice skater, has kept close ties to the skating world for many decades – despite its ever-changing style.
“The variety of skates have definitely transformed over the years,” Vanderstelt said. “We went from quad and figure skates to in-lines and speed skates. No matter what your style is, skating is great exercise, lots of fun and a great way to meet people.”
Chixo Gibbs of Corinth, still a devoted skater at age 57, began his skating hobby more than a decade ago as a daddy/daughter activity and it grew from there.
“I got [my daughter] a pair of slow-roll wheels and she took to it like a duck to water,” Gibbs said. “After a few months in, she was copying the older kids and asking to learn how to skate backwards. It became a weekly outing for several years.”
Gibbs, who works in the promotions and marketing department for a record company, highly recommends coasting around the rink regardless of age or experience.
“If you’ve never done it before, this is the safest and best place to start,” Gibbs said. “When I skate, I put my headphones on and go to my own place. If I could go every night, I would.”
The rink attracts a variety of DFW professionals, ranging from teachers and real estate agents to a bus driver and a recording artist.
Alphonse Joliet, 52, works as a realtor and investor by day, singer/songwriter by night. In 2014, one of his first singles gained popularity while being played by the DJ at Interskate.
“Todd [Vanderstelt] was amazing. He played my song ‘You and Me Together’ every Tuesday, and the song picked up momentum and got requests,” Joliet said. “People started showing up with my CD’s and download cards requesting pictures and autographs.”
Joliet has been skating on and off for years and attributes his recent 40 pound weight loss to the sport.
“I began skating as part of my bucket list,” Joliet said. “It’s a low impact, great cardio workout. It definitely did a lot for my health and appearance.”
Denton resident Bryan Wallace, 56, lost 30 pounds by speed skating backwards. He cited his weight loss as “bonus and fortunate side effect.”
Wallace’s distinctive “California Style” skating easily sets him apart from the crowd, He has become well known for his swift reverse skating.
“I think I get a runner’s high,” Wallace said. “The endorphins really get going when I fast-skate backwards.”
In addition to Interskate’s frequent and well-known patrons, many newcomers enjoy the different social levels roller skating allows.
Plano resident and homeschool mom Alison Malone opted for a night of energy and musical fun with her family, bringing back childhood memories of her own.
“We decided to take the kids skating because I loved it when I was little,” Malone said. “It’s a fun way to spend time together. You don’t even realize you’re exercising!”
From Corinth to Plano and beyond, folks put in the distance to meet at their favorite rink, bringing together various personality types, ages and experience.
“There’s no pressure to interact with anyone – especially if you’re shy,” Malone said. “It’s a very welcoming environment.”
(Lewisville Interskate Rink’s schedule varies from day to day, but it is usually open from 10 a.m. into the evening. Weekly events include Bargain Night Tuesdays 5 to 9 p.m., when admission is $1 off, cheap skate night after 6 p.m. Wednesdays when admission is $2 off and adult skate night Thursdays 8:30 to 11:30 p.m., for ages 21+. You can see a full schedule online.)
Photo by Michelle Luna