After some convincing, I was able to get my lovely wife Juanita to accompany me to Cal Skate Roller Fun Center. We arrived mid-afternoon on a Sunday, a time when I figured it wouldn’t be too busy. One of the first things I noticed was that the parking lot had far more weeds than cars, so it’s a pretty safe bet that this place hasn’t been ‘too busy’ for quite a while.

The second thing I noticed, as we walked in, was that my earlier suspicions had been correct. This place was a whole lot like Viking Skate Country in Redding. It was definitely from the same era, and had a similar appearace inside and out. As we approached the ticket counter, I could hear the muffled sounds of Bone Thugz-n-Harmony emanating from the sound system inside. We paid our $15.00 (a bit higher than expected), had our hands stamped, and continued on in to get our skates.

The place was extremely unimpressive. It was exactly as I imagined it would be, only slightly less cool. The whole place was dimly lit, and there were probably only about 15 or 20 people there in all.
We went over and got our skates, and I asked the lady if there were lockers where we could put our shoes and stuff.

“Yeah we got lockers, but on most of ’em the locks don’ work. You might wanna just put your shoes unnerneath one o’the tables by tha snack bahr.”

We took our gear over to the tables near the snack bar and put our skates on.
The snack bar itself was pretty cool, in a gross kind of way. It was definitely a throwback to the days of unspeakably nasty corn dogs, snow cones, red licorice whips, and syrup-deficient soda with too much ice. I was slightly surprised to see CHURRO on the menu, as these have not traditionally been a staple item at most snack bars. We do have a large population of fellow Chicanos in this area, which may account for this… but who knows.
Juanita wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of spending the afternoon skating, and by this point I wasn’t exactly much into the idea either. The pervasive lameness of the place had succeeded in taking all the fun out of whatever experience we had hoped to have, and we were already feeling quite disappointed. I looked around, surveying the place. Although I really didn’t feel like sticking around, the assignment rules were to ‘experience’ the place you chose. So, I resolved to spend at least a little time skating around. Besides, I needed to take some pictures.

As the tired old lights on the ceiling blinked and whirled, they were accompanied by some of the most horribly annoying music I’ve ever heard. I understand that many people refer to this music as “R&B slow jams”, but to me it was just a lot of wailing accompanied by some guy frantically rapping about ‘bitches’. After that song ended, they started playing what can only be described as some kind of “hoochie rap”. Seriously, jabbing a screwdriver in my ear would have been less painful than having to listen to that stuff. The little kids on the rink just bobbed and swayed, clearly digging the latest sounds from this week’s hip-hop superstar.

I rolled around, shooting pictures of the broken lockers and the cheesy “rollerskating hall of fame” that all roller rinks have, complete with plaques and photos of all the local skating champs (who the #@&* cares???). The lighting in the place was wack, so most of the pictures didn’t turn out too well.
The one saving grace of most forgotten roller rinks has traditionally been the arcade games, so I decided to investigate. Viking Skate Country, for example, had the sense to hang on to many of their classic 80’s games well into the late 1990’s. However, Cal Skate had nothing to offer except for several fighting and racetrack games that were only a couple of years old. Nothing interesting there.
As I skated by the videogames, it was weird. I felt totally out of place, being far too old for that environment. Being there without kids of our own was a little strange in itself, so I skated back to Juanita after a few minutes to see what she wanted to do.

By this point the music had become unbearable, so we decided to leave. We took off our skates, turned them in, and left.
Overall, the whole entire experience was nearly identical to how I envisioned it, being almost exactly like a visit to the once mighty Viking Skate Country in Redding. We left there pretty disappointed, having just wasted an hour and $15.00 on that stupid place. All was not lost, however, because I had completed my assignment.