By Goya Dmytryshchak
The little rink that could, can no more.
It is the end of an era with the closure of one of Melbourne’s original roller skating rinks at Laverton.
Laverton Skate Centre, which opened in 1983 as West End Roller Disco, is a COVID casualty, according to operator for the past eight years, Bryan Bergman.
Mr Bergman said the centre had been closed since March but it was the second lockdown that sounded the death knell.
“The final nail in the coffin was Melbourne’s second wave,“ he said.
“We were gearing up to reopen and then the second wave came along and it hit us between the eyes. We were already on the ropes, as were the other rinks.
“Melbourne was in a good position in June and then the wheels fell off.“
Laverton resident since 1964, Giuseppe ’Joe’ Inserra, 84, owns the building and founded the centre.
“I’ve been very happy to give to our community the roller skating rink for a very long time,“ he said.
“I feel it’s a privilege to give this service to our community between Werribee and Hobsons Bay.
“I have no choice to keep it on.
“It’s sad to close it down.“
Its closure leaves Sunshine with the only traditional roller skating rink in Melbourne’s west.
In a poignant Facebook post, Mr Bergman thanked parents for “patiently sitting rinkside for hours on end, with our famous crinkle cut chips and seasoned wedges (or by filling the time playing our video games) while their children became a new generation of skaters“.
The centre had hosted junior inline hockey, junior and adult roller derby, artistic skating, learn-to-skate classes and inline slalom freestyle, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for The Royal Children’s Hospital Kids’s Day Out as part of the Good Friday Appeal.
“We were an integral part of establishing Melbourne’s first ever junior roller derby club,“ Mr Bergman wrote.
“Despite decades of legacy, we established the very first artistic skate club aligned with the centre for state competition.
“Our inline skate and slalom coaches represented Australia at the World Roller Games last year.
“We pioneered Australia’s first ever rhythm and jam skating workshops in a rink setting and then aligned these casually within similarly pioneered R&B skate sessions, now emulated across the country.
“We also pioneered industry skate sessions in Australia that saw skaters fly or drive to skate with us from all but one state in Australia.
“We achieved all this – and more – in what we called ’the little rink that could’.“
Mr Bergman ended his Facebook post with words familiar to skaters at closing time in Laverton.
“In the spirit of how we used to close all of our sessions … ’Thank you and take care’.“