It was my aunt’s idea to go to Skate Fever. She recently moved closer by and we wanted to get to know the outskirts of the city better. The roller skate idea came about at a party in Theater Rotterdam celebrating the conclusion of a successful tour by Alida Dors’ dance performance Closed Eyes.

Someone told me that the foyer’s stone floor is beloved within the roller-skating community. Which is why some skaters were there to give the party an extra kick. I swapped my boots for roller skates and waded into the sea of dancers with only glow-in-the-dark bracelets as a visual clue. Once I found my balance, I did my best to look fetching amid the enviably cool hip-hop dancers and fringe artists. It wasn’t until I stopped worrying so much about myself that I realised how well my aunt could actually dance on wheels. I wanted to be able to do it, too, and that’s how we ended up in Capelle.

My aunt has the ingrained dancing ability of someone raised on proper disco. On holidays, I would listen to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on her iPod and she taught me how to really shake my booty at an early age. But because she lived on the other side of the world until quite recently, we’re no longer always in sync with one another. Now that we live closer together for the first time, we’re rediscovering our bond. Out on the skating rink, I’m not the fast learner I hoped to be. I’m afraid to skate backwards and intimidated by the ten-year-old girls zipping by me at high speed. Once they build up enough momentum, they crouch down and lift one leg above their head before coasting on for at least another ten metres to reach their tired mothers.

When we leave two hours later, the blinding white sun is there to meet us. I have to tape my blisters to get my feet back into my sandals. Outside, we’re abruptly transported from the neon and smoke machines back to the business park. The only people we see are those who generally don’t want to be seen. It’s surprisingly crowded, but feels empty, like there’s a kind of social aloofness that puts us at a distance. So we stick together: my aunt and I will make our fantasy come true ourselves. Legs wobbly with exhaustion, we venture one last dance on the asphalt. Glitter jackets and bell-bottom jeans: Saturday Night Fever under metro line C.

Giselle Timmers 2_2023_2560_Pauline Wiersema_Levien Willemse

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