You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re on the set of a 1970s TV show when you first tread the worn maroon carpet at Cascade Fun Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, just west of I-285. Three disco balls turn lazily above the blond wood floor. Yellowing signs warn you to skate at your own risk—and not to carry your kid while you round the rink. The four-wheeled rental skates are old-school too, in beat-up black or brown; few people wear the kind of sparkly pink Stardusts that sell in the pro shop for $169. And the trickiest skaters—the ones whose faces stay aloof while they partner-dance, stomp, spin, or slalom their legs around invisible cones—hold a little towel in one hand to dab sweat. The first hint that this is actually 2018? The other hand holds a smartphone.
The soundtrack is Jeezy, T.I., Nelly—thumping trap and R&B remixes from a DJ who has proved he can handle the demands of the more than 600 people who show up each Sunday for Adult Night Skate. (Word has it one well-known radio DJ spun tunes on a Sunday night and was so overwhelmed, he never came back.)
“You could be a nerd on Monday to Friday, but you in here on Sunday night, and you the man,” says Eric Williams, manager at Cascade. “It’s not like the club. The coolest people aren’t in the corner. They’re skating.”
These alcohol-free, adults-only sessions have been one of the biggest social events in the Adamsville and Oakcliff areas since the rink opened in 2000. Stars like Bow Wow, Usher, and Jermaine Dupri skate here, and the 2006 movie ATL was largely filmed inside Cascade. The Sunday night party is 18 and up and goes from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m., with $10 to get in (or $9 with a college ID) and $3 to rent skates (no half-sizes).
On a recent Sunday night, the outermost ring of the rink was dominated by fast skaters who deftly dodged the rare slowpoke and steered clear of the corners, where groups twerked on wheels or line-danced. In the center of the floor, a girl in a striped spandex bodysuit dipped low.
The benches that surrounded the rink were full of spectators, many of whom clearly had no intention of skating (they hadn’t even bothered to change out of sneakers). They looked a little bit like girls at a middle school dance—watching, flirting, judging, shaking their heads with admiring disbelief, or using a well-timed eye roll and gum-smack to signal disapproval.
“You could have the average blue-collar workers and the one guy with a Bentley and the hustler from the street,” Williams says. “They’re just going around in circles for four hours, but it means more to them than that. Everyone is dead-serious about skating. This is where they all come to get away.”
This article originally appeared in our February 2018 issue.