A skate down memory lane at the site of many a Roller Revival. Yes, Minxin is still there and still groovy as heck.
"Offbeat" is a SmartShanghai column about stuff to look at or do in Shanghai that's interesting or weird (relatively, of course), that doesn't fit anywhere else. It appears weekly, monthly, or maybe even annually, when we're not busy working on other superfluous column ideas.
Just a bounce and a hop above Jing'an is a magical wonderland where life stands still and the good times roll. Yes, friends, I’m talking about the Minxin Roller Rink
, and if there is any joy left in that loveless heart of yours then you'll definitely want to travel with me to this Putuo paradise on wheels. It's a cheap and old-school -- a smokey place full of characters skating to an '80s and '90s Hong Kong disco soundtrack.
Join me for cheap thrills at the roller rink!
Photo Credit: Roller Mike's Facebook
The Minxin Rink opened in the mid '90s and has been a staple for Putuo kids (and uncles and aunties) trying to get their roll on ever since. In the mid-2000’s there were regular "Roller Revival" parties here run by this city's ex skate ambassador Roller Mike
, with local crews like Bananas DJing (and sometimes projecting adult videos onto the walls, hubba hubba).
Those parties usually ran around 500-people deep, with folks in retro costumes slipping and sliding through lakes of spilled booze on the roller rink to the hits of yesteryear. Many people broke bones. According to legend, the bills from the cover charge were stained with blood at the end of the night from all the injuries. At the first party, some roller thugs were pissed about the cover charge and showed up with pipes and attacked the organizers, like they were friggin' The Outsiders
Roller rink heavies. Talk about a harsh buzz, right?
Though a few people tried to throw parties after Roller Mike left, no one ever matched the original Roller Revival. There is a huge, public archive of photos on a Roller Mike Jones' public Facebook page
. It was a simpler, more close-knit era of Shanghai nightlife. It's weird to look through those photos and realize that almost none of those people are still around.
Roller casualties. Is there anything more tragic?
Who’s Rolling Now?
No one has thrown a old-school roller party at Minxin for several years, but you can still go there and skate every day of the week. It's much less sketchballs than it used to be, and on weekends during the daytime, you can expect a decent family-friendly crowd of local kids. At least half of them will be skating circles around you, so be prepared to be embarrassed by some ten year-olds running game.
At around 10.30pm, all sweet hell breaks loose as they open up the side disco room where a 16-year-old DJ plays pre-mixed Russian techno mix CDs and you can buy beer by the case. The lighting changes to that classic nighttime disco ball vibe too.
All and all, it’s pretty fun, and a great workout -- your legs will be sore the next day. There are some middle-aged roller skate masters hanging around this place, and while the rink doesn't officially teach classes, these guys will share their knowledge and skills for a negotiable fee. I don't know though, ehhhhh, do you need a roller skating tutor?
Here's how you pick that skill up: You get down on it
The Shanghai Roller Derby League
Currently, you can find the Shanghai Derby League holding court at Minxin Roller Rink every Wednesday night. The girls host open practices to sharpen their derby skills and just have fun. They're not doing the full contact, bone-shattering version of roller derby -- it's pretty tame and thus, very accessible to beginners. For more info, you can have a look at WFTDA
for the down and dirty details.
They're currently looking for more members, so if you're interested, head down to Minxin on Wednesday nights to check them out. They've also got a benefit skate party at Jing’an café Yuncai
this Saturday night from 9pm to late. They're turning the park-side café into a mini roller rink, with skates available to rent.
Times & Prices
Minxin Roller Rink is open daily from 1pm to 1.30am. Prices including rental -- and yes they have big sizes -- are as follows:
: 15rmb an hour
: 25rmb an hour.
: Dudes pay 30rmb an hour, ladies pay 25rmb.
Water is 10rmb a bottle, soft drinks start at 8rmb, and beer is 20rmb.
According to the head roller queen, the 60-year-old auntie that works behind the counter, you you can rent the whole damn place for 20,000rmb. Maybe tuhao
up your next birthday party with a night of heavy drinking and skating -- what could go wrong?
Looks like a sketchy KTV, but it is indeed a roller rink
From Jing'an center, we are talking about a 20-minute taxi ride straight to the heart of Putuo. The closest metro stop is Xincun Road on Line 7, just five stops from Jing’an Temple. From the station it’s about a 15-minute walk to the rink. There is nothing but the salt of the earth around these parts, but you may want to grab a street bun or throw a dice game with some uncles on the streets before skating.
That’s your roller update for today my friends. Check back with me next time for a Shanghai Paragliding date review. No, I am not joking and this shit better be safe SmartShanghai.
The Minxin Roller Rink is at 420 Yichuan Lu, near Ganquan Lu. For more Offbeat, check out our article archive. Safe skating, friends.