In the spring of 2021 I learned that Skater’s World in Ferndale, New York was under new ownership, and that what had once been a beloved destination for first dates, class trips, and birthday parties would become an indoor gun range and storage facility. Cell phone photos of broken disco balls and decaying formica snack counters began to appear on local Facebook groups, posted by the new owner to share the sad state of the place with the people who remembered it in its glory. I reached out and asked if I could photograph the remains of the roller rink before it became a very different kind of recreational facility.
I had 20 minutes, two cameras, and three rolls of film. The exterior shots were taken with a Pentax 67 on Ektar 100 (my favorite low ISO medium format film). I shot the interiors with a Nikon D60 on an 800 speed Lomo color film. I processed and scanned everything myself, deliberately keeping each frame a little rough around the edges. Skater’s World has certainly seen better days, but it seemed disingenuous to try and make these images slick and shiny. This was not a nostalgia-driven exercise. I didn’t want to turn the place into something it never was.
What struck me most was how quickly things seem to have disintegrated. Bottles of chocolate syrup and bins filled with rollerblades all left behind. A disco ball suspended precariously over a waterlogged wood floor. I’d like to believe there was one last knock-down, drag-out, roller-derby rager before things truly went downhill – that Skater’s World went out spinning in a could of fake fog and laser light shows, jacked up on fountain soda and cheap candy. The reality is probably much more mundane, but I’m glad I had a chance to get a glimpse before it’s gone for good.