This morning I taught my last skating class at Bellevue Skate King. I’ll resume teaching in the fall, but at a new location. Skate King is closing its doors at the end of the month after more than forty years. It is, alas, being turned into a Harley Davidson dealership.
I don’t wish to be unkind, but the place really has become a dump. Inside it’s dark and dingy and has a noticeable locker room whiff. The carpet is beyond threadbare: holes are patched with red duct tape. The ceiling often leaks in heavy rain. Other than annually resurfacing the skating floor, the owners haven’t spent a dime on upkeep in ages.
Still, Skate King is where I rediscovered inline skating a few years after moving to the Eastside. It’s where I learned to skate properly, to stop safely, to stride efficiently, to fall down and get back up again, and to master ever more challenging moves and techniques. It’s the place where, for the first time in my life, I actually got to be quite good at a sport, where I experienced the simple joy of moving with power and grace.
It’s here, inside this tired, cinder-block hulk, that I met and became part of a community of dedicated, world-class skaters from the Skate Journeys skate school who with patience and generosity pass along their knowledge, skills and passion. They became my instructors and my friends. And it’s where I, in my turn, became an instructor, hoping that I give as well as I received.
I won’t miss Skate King the building very much. But I’m very grateful for the memories and the friends I’ve made there.