Rockin’ and Wheelin’

Long-time friend of GLONO and frequent discussion contributor, Helen Wilson, dusts off the four-wheelers for a good cause…

Rockin’ and Wheelin’

The WLUW Indie Rock Prom Brings Back Childhood Memories

As a past DJ and board member of a struggling college radio station that lost its antenna in a hurricane, I am all for attending any events that support college radio. The Loyola University Chicago radio station, WLUW, learned last fall that for the first time in its 24-year existence it would no longer be fully funded with tuition dollars. Due to the shaky funding situation, the station has launched a prolific fundraising initiative, including a Christmas show at Schubas, a series of shows at the Hideout, and the first annual “indie rock prom” at the Rainbo Roller Rink last Thursday.

In addition to being an advocate of college radio, I just couldn’t resist an event including indie rock and prom in the same phrase, and, moreover, that involved roller-skating. According to Shawn Campbell, Program Director, the event was concocted after she attended another fundraiser at the Rainbo and thought it would be fun to get people to dress up AND roller skate. A creative event, the indie-rock prom featured live music from three local bands and college kids dressed in thrift-store formal attire or costumes from various time periods. I went without a costume, but the chance to revive my long-retired roller-skating skills took me way back in time.

DJ and Student Liaison Mike Stephen gets ready to Shoot the Duck at the WLUW Indie Rock Prom.The event brought back memories of the countless evenings I spent at Sparkles Skating Rink in Atlanta between the years of first and fifth grade. Roller-skating parties are probably a vivid aspect of many of our grade school years and were certainly one my favorite activities. The public school I attended had a monthly fundraiser at the skating rink, including prizes for the class with highest attendance, couples skates with disco lighting, and the hokey-pokey. Besides these monthly roller-skating nights, of which I missed very few, birthday parties at Sparkles were quite popular. Despite all the time that I spent roller-skating as a kid, I hadn’t put on a pair of roller skates in at least 15 years. I quickly learned, however, that much like riding a bike, you don’t forget how to roller skate. Racing around the rink to the 80s pop music played between live sets made me especially nostalgic for my childhood days at the roller rink.

The roller rink was among my earliest venues for hearing popular music as a kid. Growing up with parents who didn’t listen to popular radio stations, discouraged MTV, and whose record collection was limited primarily to classical music and a few Dylan and Beatles’ albums, I didn’t have a lot of access to the music other kids my age were listening to. The roller rink was where I discovered Cyndi Lauper, Prince, and Michael Jackson. Favorite hits from my roller skating days include “Thriller,” “The Heat is On,” and “Man Eater.” And I can clearly remember rockin’ out air-guitar style to Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” during breaks from skating. Perhaps my lack of musical knowledge as a 10-year-old and my under-appreciated skill at the air guitar explains my inevitable lack of a partner during the couples skate, but I think those nights at the roller rink had to have contributed to my passion for rock music.

For information on future WLUW fundraising events, check out their website at www.wluw.org. Donations can be sent to WLUW, 820 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

20 thoughts on “Rockin’ and Wheelin’”

  1. good god, ryan. i think you’re right! i’m guessing jake. i can totally picture it…or possibly jtl but he might be too cool for that sort of thing.

  2. Yes, Helen. It’s me. You win one couples skate at the next GLONO event! That’s couples only now, a boy and a girl or two girls. (That’s what they said EVERY TIME at my childhood skating center).

  3. Are you bringing your roller skates to the Ginger Man tomorrow night? Is that still on, by the way? What time?

  4. It’s sad that a college radio station has to hold a fundraiser at all. But maybe that’s the nature of the beast. I know I barely listened to my own college radio station until maybe my junior year at college. It took me awhile to become interested in the variety of music. I think college radio stations really need to beat the street and promote themselves (residence hall councils, etc.) if they want to grab any of these new students’ media attention, when cable television, video stores, computers, and schlock corporate radio are all fighting for it as well. I mean, are the students diggin’ WLUW?

  5. Well, I was once the promotions director at my college radio station, and the job was frustrating for several reasons: 1)the average kids at my university (a wanna-be Ivy League was which was probably preppier than even the average university) wasn’t interested in listening to a radio station that didn’t play Dave Matthews, so it was hard to promote it to the student body at large and hard to argue for university funding when only a small minority of the students cared; 2)college radio is so diverse, with djs playing indie rock, jazz, world, and all kinds of electic shit that it’s hard even for someone to who likes indie/college radio to turn it on a know that there is going to be something they like; 3)at least at the radio station I worked at, the board in some ways enjoyed their ivory tower and weren’t necessarily thrilled about promoting the station to a wider audience…case in point, as I mentioned in the article, the station I was at lost our antenna in Hurricane Fran back in 1996, and I got the Raleigh paper to run a story about the station and loss of our tower and instead of being happy about the publicity, the station manager said it was a waste of time because no one read the paper who cared about college radio…I don’t know that that’s the case everywhere, but that was my experience

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