Tuesday, April 14, 2009

All Skate!

Nursing some major blisters, we here at Actual Monkey are recovering from pain, but the good kind. Last weekend we celebrated everything that bounces, rocks, skates and rolls at the Laces reunion.

For the unfamiliar, Laces was a roller rink located in the town of Herricks on Long Island, New York. For many of us, it was the center of our social scene during those pivotal, adolescent years. Before we were online (and skates were in line) the rink provided a conduit for every aspect of a teenagers life; friendship, dating, music and fashion. All of it precariously balanced on eight wheels.

Serendipitous as it was, that period coincided with the decline of Disco and the rise of Electro, Rap (Hip Hop) and Freestyle. You never heard the Bee Gees blasting over the sound system, but DJ Larry and Kev would satiate the crowd on a weekly basis with the likes of Afrika Bambaataa, D Train and The Gap Band.

The development of Midi technology, along with more mainstream use of vocorders, drum machines and breakbeats gave rise to the Electro style. As these advances in electronic music became more widely available and relatively simple to manipulate, the result was a wave of killer jams that flooded the dance floors and skating rinks around the NY Metro area on a weekly basis. I can remember the days when there were no less than eight rinks and a dozen dance clubs kicking out the jams. Friday and Saturday nights were for reserved for skating but in between we spent our time making mix tapes and scouring the likes of Record World and Crazy Eddie's to get the latest, must have 12" remixes.

At the same time as this renaissance of dance music flourished, pioneers of Hip Hop like the Sugar Hill Gang, Starsky and Kurtis Blow had begun to break Rap wide open. Within a few years RUN DMC would legitimately own the title of Kings of Rock.

With the rise of of all this new music, the mainstream followed suit and within months, kids were carrying around cardboard boxes and break dancing on street corners. And the rinks were full as well. All skate, indeed! The velvet rope had moved downtown from Studio 54 to the Roxy.

IMHO, the most fertile period for the music was between 1982 and 1984. '83 being the standout year, it yielded a plethora of tracks that still absolutely kick ass. Spend a little time and download the Monkey Mixes, then grab yourself some rentals and you'll be good to go.

As far as the skating, we all eventually got older, got driver licences and got a taste of the world beyond Laces. Suddenly, the rink was no longer the center our our collective universe. About the same time the music also began to wane. Electro mutated into Freestyle, which in turn morphed into House which was altogether bland. Music as mind numbing as the coke everyone was snorting for the remainder of the 80's.

As for me, once I regrow a few new layers of skin on my ankles, I plan on lacing up my Gold Stars on a more regular basis and gettin' my skate on!

Clams on the half shell and roller skates, roller skates!

I'm just sayin'.

Monkey Mix: All Skate-First Session
1 Planet Rock
2 You Dropped A Bomb On Me
3 Play At Your Own Risk
4 You're The One For Me
5 Good Times
6 Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll
7 Let's Start The Dance
8 Spank
9 It's Just Begun
10 Soul Makossa
11 The Breaks
12 Apache
13 Situation

Couples Only
14 Outstanding
15 Wishing On A Star


Monkey Mix: All Skate-Second Session
1 Looking For The Perfect Beat
2 Atomic Dog
3 Sucker MC's
4 White Lines
5 Hip Hop Be Bop
6 Do You Wanna Funk?
7 Babe, We're Gonna Love Tonight
8 Set It Off
9 One More Shot
10 The Mexican
11 Walking On Sunshine
12 I.O.U.
13 State Farm
14 Early In The Morning
15 Infatuation

Couples Only
16 Borderline
17 Always And Forever


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