The railway hinterlands rearside of Kings Cross. It’s cold, it’s dark, and there are an inordinate number of people in stripy stockings here. In fact, there are an inordinate number of people here, period. Round a bend, by the canal, and the inordinate turn into the innumerable. A melange of denim, leather, legwarmers and excessive make-up skulking outside a seemingly disused goods shed emboggles our senses.
In the distance, we note an elongated pink caravan, which seems to be drawing these strange people like new romantics to a perm boutique. And, judging from the parked-up military jeeps, Colonel Decker is somewhere to be found in the crowd, perhaps with Carol Decker.
This outlandish backwater we’ve stumbled across seems, for all the world, like something from a Harry Potter or Neil Gaiman novel. But better than either, this is a roller disco. Last seen circa 1984, presumed dead.
More specifically, this is the Friday night roller disco at Canvas, which Londonist was dragged/wheeled along to a couple of weeks ago. £12.50 gets you several hours of skating, dancing, drinking and falling, in an old warehouse. The promoters, as is their job, say it best:
Combining fashion, fun and a cross-section of funk, disco and R&B this remains one of London’s best-kept secrets.
That was not our impression. Half the population of London seemed to be crammed inside by the time 10.30 (literally) rolled round. There was plenty of room, though, given the cavernous multi-roomed layout of the venue.
The skating quality ranged from the preposterously bold, who sped around backwards nimbly weaving through the crowds, down to Londonist and the other novices, whose greatest ambition was to complete a circuit with all fingers intact. One fellow, who seemed to be named ‘Cock’ from overheard conversation, had mastered the questionable art of deliberately stumbling in time to the music, whilst haring around at breakneck speed.
Like bouncy castles and snowball fights, roller skating is far more tiring than you remember. Adult roller discos have one inestimable advantage over those of our formative years, however: booze. A bit of Dutch courage had us whirling around like mayflies, and only a vigilant warden’s arm away from breaking several limbs.
We left in time for the Tubes, bruised but intact, and feeling a good few inches shorter.
Canvas Roller Disco, every Thursday and Friday 8 pm to 2 am. £12.50 including skate hire.