To say that Nile Rodgers knows a thing or two about disco is, of course, a gross understatement. The legendary producer, songwriter, co-founder of Chic and member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is responsible for some of the greatest hits of the genre: “Le Freak”, “I Want Your Love”, “Good Times” , “Everybody Dance”, “We Are Family”, even his 2013 collaboration with Daft Punk, “Get Lucky”.
Rodgers’ real roller skaters are perhaps a little less well known (although he is responsible for lyrics like “Clams on the half shell, and roller-skates, roller-skates”). But the musician also happens to be a lifelong roller skater, regularly hitting the rink well into his 60s. These twin passions – disco and rollerblading – naturally make him the perfect choice to serve as “The Groovemaster” at the recently launched DiscOasis.
Located at Wollman Rink in Central Park and open until October 1, The DiscOasis is more than just a skating rink. It’s billed as an “immersive theatrical experience” that includes art installations, live DJs, dancing, games, special performances by professional skaters, playlists curated by Rodgers and, of course, the chance to show off your stuff on the rink.
The DiscOasis made its debut at the South Coast Botanic Garden in Los Angeles last summer, but this year it’s returned to where it all began. As the birthplace of disco, New York City was a no-brainer for roller-disco, and when you’re skating around Central Park with the city as your backdrop, it’s hard to ignore its rich musical history.
“I’m a lifelong New Yorker, and for me, Central Park has always been the place where great things have happened – from watching Sly & the Family Stone and Diana Ross, from sharing the first moon landing and the first Day of Earth,” Rodgers explained. in a report. “Since The DiscOasis is all about celebrating New York culture, there’s nowhere else to be.”
“DiscOasis was created as a movement to celebrate community, inclusivity and positivity,” added Thao Nguyen, CEO of Constellation Immersive, the company responsible for creating DiscOasis. “We’re tapping into New York’s rich history – both as the birthplace of disco and its longstanding connection to the urban rollerskating experience – providing an ideal and unique opportunity to come together again.”
The rink features sets designed by Tony Award nominee David Korins and lighting design by David Weiner, turning it into a groovy throwback with glittering disco balls, neon lights and a raised stage in the center where performers twirl hoops and show off. their best moves. (The mirrored cacti that decorate other areas of the oasis look more like remnants of the LA installation than anything that makes sense for the New York edition, but hey, who’s complaining ?) Rodgers isn’t physically present as Groovemaster, but his voice blares over the sound system to welcome guests and introduce tracks, and in addition to his curated playlists, each night features a different DJ spinning songs appropriate to the times.
The DiscOasis is open Wednesday through Sunday, and skaters can book one-hour or three-hour day skating sessions or a two-hour night pass to “skate under the stars.” Daytime hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission for one hour of skating during this time is $23 for adults and $17 for children under 12, while three-hour skates cost $39 for adults and $29 for children. If you plan to leave the kids at home, however, evening sessions run from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Adults can choose from a $65 general admission pass that includes two hours of access to the rink or a $119 VIP pass that also includes a dedicated check-in line, dedicated skate rental line, access to a VIP area, and a DiscOasis “swag giveaway.” A portion of ticket sales proceeds are donated to the We Are Family Foundation, a non-profit organization named after the 1979 hit Sister Sledge written by Rodgers, dedicated to creating programs that promote diversity culture and “to mentoring the vision, talents and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world.
If you’re looking to get the full experience, evening skating is the way to go. The rink really comes alive once the sun goes down and the lights come on – there’s something about the disco that just doesn’t feel right in daylight – and the evening pass lets you hang out before and after your two hours of skating. Skate rentals are $10, and lockers are available on-site to rent for $7 in case you need to store your shoes and other belongings. There are pros on hand to offer some advice to skating beginners (the biggest key to staying upright is to keep your knees bent, apparently), but if, like me, you unfortunately find that your skating abilities at It doesn’t go beyond glamorous stuff like “desperately clinging to the wall while trying not to fall” and “wiggling around like a baby deer that hasn’t yet learned how its legs work”, it There’s also a “non-skater suspension pass” available for $29 that might be more up your speed.
It may seem like a high price to pay for not skate in a roller-disco, but there’s plenty to do at DiscOasis that doesn’t involve wheels. There’s a dance floor near the DJ booth for people who prefer to boogie with their feet planted safely on the floor, and rest areas include lawn games like a giant Connect 4. food available for purchase, as well as a bar where attendees can buy canned cocktails or cool down with “disco slushies,” which can be made without alcohol or with a pour of vodka. (If you are go skating, I personally recommend that you get rid of it before you start drinking. Roller skates are pretty wobbly when you’re sober, and skating with a buzz seems like a recipe for disaster.)
The dance floor was pretty empty the night we attended; almost everyone was crammed into the rink. But still there is something to be said for grabbing a drink, posting rinkside and enjoying the atmosphere. Many attendees have taken it upon themselves to dress up in their 70s attire, and professional skaters perform frequently enough throughout the night that there is almost always the opportunity to catch a routine. impressive choreography. If roller skating is your thing, great; you will obviously enjoy riding under the stars. But even if you don’t plan on skating, The DiscOasis is still a party worth visiting, if only to shake up your groove and pay homage to the city’s rich musical history.
This article was published in the InsideHook NY newsletter. Register now to learn more about the five boroughs.