I've been working on this site off-and-on for quite awhile; less than a year but definitely more than half of one. I've been accumulating material to do some reviews of skate rinks and I was really looking forward to having that part of the website up and functional. Today, I got out on an hour and forty-five minute trip one way to visit what should have been a Mecca for me. See, pretty much around a year ago, I met Gigi at TraXside in Burlington. She lives close to the border between Wisconsin and Illinois. During our conversation, she brought up The Orbit in Palatine, Illinois. Her complaint that day was about how small the floor was at TraXside and that just when she'd start picking up speed, she'd have to slow down to go through a turn again. I agreed that TraXside was one of the smaller floors I skated on, especially compared with my Thursday morning haunt of Rollaero in Cudahy, Wisconsin, but that I actually liked whipping through turns of TraX at a good clip because they'd refinished the floor with new epoxy half a year earlier and I was finally able to match a set of wheels to the entirety of its floor.
For the past several weeks, I've been trying to get to The Orbit on a Wednesday for their 10:00am-1:00pm matinee. Each weekend, I was all "Yah, I'm going to do this!" and each early week, something would come up that precluded me devoting 6-7 hours to the experience of driving there, skating the session, and then driving back home. Last week, I was driving my mother home from the hospital after she'd had surgery on Tuesday for instance. So today, I finally got there. As promised by Gigi, the place has a massive wood floor! I was marveling at all the room to move. Typically, I spend a little bit of time working on some small area footwork each skating session, usually in the middle of the floor out of everybody's way. Today, I almost felt guilty for wasting any time doing so but practice-practice-practice... it's the only way to get better at those type of things.
Got about an hour and a half of skating in before I began having a chat with Danielle, a
skate guard and DJ at The Orbit. I asked if there was a commercial being shot there as I'd
noticed a guy with a noticeably large video camera and tripod. She responded, "No, that's a
news crew. They're here because we're closing March 31st." Needless to say, I was floored by
this news. On one hand, I was happy I'd made it to Mecca before it closed but on the other,
so disappointed another roller skating rink closing down. And they have such a nice floor,
largest place I've ever skated. Danielle told me the floor was even larger before a second
block half-wall was put in to make more dining area for the snack bar. Two of my photos
show this additional wall. I inquired what was to become of the beautiful floor and
Danielle stated that it was being replaced by an ice rink. "But what's going to happen to
the floor," I reiterated, "I mean, the wood!". "Oh, I think it's going out to
Mundelien." To be continued, I guess...
For the record, not only was the floor large, but it was very smooth. I only notice bumpiness a couple of times when I was cutting across the grain of the wood near the center edge stripe.
The Orbit has two kinds of black lights, fluorescent tube-types mixed in with the rest of the fluorescents. Then, they also have six of the newer 3-foot bright LED type. Neon yellow paint has been applied around the outer circumference of the floor about 3 feet wide plus a three inch wide stripe delineating the center of the floor from the main traffic area. The artwork on the walls was quite beautiful including a smaller piece over the snack bar. My pictures can't show it but the non-LED rope lights used in the Orbit logo piece alternate on and off giving a chase effect. Also, the red rope light in the wheels of that same piece give the illusion of rolling wheels. Outside of the floor, the locker, snack bar and other areas are not carpeted but actually a very smooth coated cement. Due to the sheer size of the place, I really appreciated that because I was able to move quickly to the drinking fountain (notice: I'm in Illinois today so I didn't say "bubbler") which is all they way in the corner next to the snack bar.
I so did not want my first skate rink review to be an obituary! Today is March 7th, 2018. I'd like to make it back to The Orbit before they finally close. I don't know if that is going to be feasible with my work schedule. I will say, I started missing the place immediately after finding out that it was going to be shutting down. I stayed for over an hour after this discovery as the session went until 1:00pm and I believe I skated up until 12:40pm. I'm glad I went skating today! Also, I found a left slide-on type Triple-8 wrist guard out in the parking lot. Always wanted to know what the difference was between those and the triple velcro strap kind I usually use is. A souvenier!