Tuesday is organ night at Moonlight Rollerway on San Fernando Road in Glendale. But before the organ music permeates the building and skaters make their laps around the wood floor, four skating teachers conduct lessons for adults.
Their students are either placed in the beginner’s or intermediate/advanced groups.
Doug Eley began class by teaching his beginning students the safety position, which calls for a slight bend in the knee and a tilt in the hips. A certain determination is also necessary as students overcome initial fears.
“I get a big kick out of starting the class with people grasping the wall with terror on their faces; and by the end of the class, they’re skating around the rink enjoying themselves,” Eley said.
After guiding his class through the fundamentals, such as how to stop, skate backwards or march in place, a practice session follows. When practice time begins and Eley observes the group’s progress, his first concern has nothing to do with technique, balance or experience level.
“All right,” he says with each new practice round, “Deep breath of courage.”
Amy Clark, an intermediate-level student, said she enrolled in the lessons to enjoy exercising.
“I hated going to the gym,” she said.
On her first night of class, the teachers saw her completing laps and placed her in the intermediate/advanced group. She has since mastered the Mohawk turn, a transitional move in which a skater changes direction from moving both feet forward to backward or visa-versa.
“I’m still learning how to do backwards crossovers,” she said.
Learning new moves does not come without the risk of falling, which brings with it the sound of a skater crashing abruptly onto the maple floor. But even then, the fallen roller skater will smile or laugh.
“You hurt for a little bit,” Clark said. “You get back up and go again.”
On the opposite end of the floor from where Eley worked with beginners, the intermediate group listened to Alix Liberman as she taught students how to cross and uncross their legs while skating in circles. The skill is in keeping balance when shifting weight from one leg to the next — not to mention doing so artfully.
“If you do this in your shoes at home, you’re going to get a little better each week,” she said to the group.
Liberman said she is thrilled to assist students accomplish personal goals, such as learning how to skate backwards.
“I’ve had skaters who never thought they’d leave the ground and you’ll teach a little hop and they just light up,” she said.