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Arts and Entertainment

Iconic Mid-City Roller Rink To Re-Open This Summer

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The roller skates at World on Wheels. (Photo by Josephine Runneboom via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Los Angeles has a long history with roller rinks—and roller girls—but hardly any of the skate rinks remain from the 70s and 80s heyday (and the ones that do remain have lost much of their cultural power). Skateland in Northridge still stands tall, but the next N.W.A. probably won't be forming there. Moonlight Rollerway is still a popular spot for theme nights (especially their Wednesday queer nights), but it's the last real vestige of the disco rink aesthetic. And Mid-City's World on Wheels offered one of the few opportunities of true community engagement, but it closed back in 2013 when AMF Bowling Center filed for bankruptcy (the company owned the rink). Losing World on Wheels marked the end of an era; on top of everything else, the rink has ties with the hip-hop community—it had once hosted broadcasts from hip-hop station KDAY, and was the subject of an ode/track by Snoop Dogg.

Lucky for L.A., though, World on Wheels is coming back this summer, according to L.A. Weekly. The new owner is named Tommy Karas; he took over the lease last fall and has been slowly rebranding the space into "a 2017 version of a roller rink, to the highest end."

The building itself opened in 1981 before getting destroyed during the 1992 civil unrest. It was rebuilt following the destruction, along with the other buildings in the shopping area, but in subsequent years it went further into disrepair. Karas leased the space knowing full well how much repair it would require, but he took that as further motivation to build a new haven for the community. Its legacy and importance for local communities, in particular the hip-hop and central and South L.A. youth scenes.

Karas is waiting on licensing from the city, so the opening is at least a month away.