8 March 2024

The 1970s 'roller disco' fad is making a big comeback in Canberra this July

| James Coleman
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Roller skating

The list of sessions include how-to classes and all-ages roller disco parties. Photo: Dionysus.

For learning how to use roller skates, or perhaps revisiting it for the first time in several decades, you’ll be needing an “embarrassment-free zone” for when you fall over.

Well, local events company Dionysus has just the thing – but only for a limited time.

‘The Vault’ is a 26-by-30-metre warehouse on Dairy Road which once served as a high-security facility for the Royal Australian Mint. It’s set to be demolished to make way for the Molonglo Group’s plans for a new mixed-use precinct in the area but, until then, Dionysus founder David Caffery says they’ve been “handed the keys”.

From May to August this year, it’s a “blank canvas for presentations, parties and curated events”, with room for up to 800 standing guests or 350 seated.

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A number of events are already locked in, including ‘Big hART’s Skate of Mind‘, where skateboarders will perform to a setting of projected images and “music generated by skateboarding”.

“We’ll then do a series of parties in there, including a performance art party, and some dance parties,” David says. “And we’re working on a series of new programs for it at the moment.”

But over two days in early July, the warehouse will be transformed into a “dazzling roller rink” by RollerFit.

This will include “something for everyone”, including learn-to-skate classes, roller dance classes, themed rink sessions, and all-ages and 16-plus roller disco sessions. You know, like the ones in the night clubs you attended as a teenager in the 1970s.

For an “extra dose of nostalgia”, there’ll also be disco lights and “pumping tunes from a live DJ”.

Roller skating

Time to get your nightlife on a roll. Photo: Dionysus.

RollerFit director Stacey Short says instructors will teach newbies about the joy of eight wheels, and encourage folks to “dust off their skates and get back in the rink”.

“My team and I are pumped to bring a whole lot of roller fun to Canberra.”

For the more advanced rollers, who “must be able to confidently skate forward, stop and turn around”, the dance classes will take things up a notch.

RollerFit dancer Amelia Wheeler says the art of skating to music originates from African-American rink skaters, and their instructors have “travelled to study some of the best roller dancers in the US and Europe” to bring these moves to Australia.

“We can’t wait to take over The Vault with roller dance!”

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Dionysus programmer Rose Ricketson says the idea for a roller disco in The Vault “came to us straight away”.

“The space has no windows which means we can use light in a fun way – I see a giant disco ball transforming the space into a glittering wonderland,” she says.

“When we spoke with Roller Promotions, we realised there is also scope for an array of classes and rink sessions, and we knew it would be a wonderful offering for Canberrans looking for something warm and fun to do in the winter holidays.”

Inside The Vault on Dairy Road, currently occupied by events company Dionysus. Photo: The Vault.

David says the popularity of The Vault shows there might be demand in Canberra for a similar venue even after it’s been demolished.

“There are great warehouse facilities in Melbourne for venues and some reasonable ones in Sydney as well. Hopefully this will open up a bit of a niche.”

As a guy who “loves a good roller skate”, David expects many “little kids and big kids” to take up the opportunity to learn more about it.

“And this is an embarrassment-free zone. No judging.”

Roller Disco will be held at The Vault, Dairy Road, Fyshwick, from 5 to 6 July. Choose from a variety of sessions and buy tickets online. Roller skates are available to hire in kids and adult sizes for $6 per session.

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