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REMEMBERING A LEGENDARY WEHO ROLLER RINK

A new book chronicles the glamorous but short-lived reign of a West Hollywood roller rink

Words by MAX BERLINGER

 

 

There’s a photo from the book Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace (IDEA, $65) that sums up the legendary West Hollywood skating rink perfectly: a woman cruising by, midlaugh, naked as the day she was born — save for a pair of thigh-high stockings and, of course, roller skates. It says everything you need to know about how Flipper’s took the once-quaint pastime of skating and turned it into a libertine yet glamorous pursuit for out-all-night Angelenos.

 

 

Much like the dance floor at Studio 54, the rink at Flipper’s was a great equalizer. It didn’t matter if you were a movie star, a Sunset Boulevard eccentric or Joe Schmoe looking to blow off some steam. All that mattered was your love of roller-skating. Model Liberty Ross had a front-row seat to the action as the daughter of the rink’s impresario, Ian “Flipper” Ross — who once said, “I really thought roller-skating was going to save the world.”

 

 

 

She has gathered stories and images as a way to commemorate the beloved venue, which burned bright but fast, open only for three years starting in 1979. The book pairs scandalous remembrances by the likes of Cher, Laura Dern and Arnold Schwarzenegger with lush photos of light-footed hedonists taking part in the most debauched acts a person could perform on eight wheels. Together, they paint an impossibly rich portrait of the city in a glorious, hazy era — a golden age when pleasure-seeking was a full-time sport.

 

 

 

 

“We all need a respite away from social media and infinite scrolling,” Ross says. “Flipper’s represents fun, freedom and vital community, and I’m passionate about continuing the story for a new generation.”

 

 

Images: David Allen; Craig Dietz; Jim Frank; Richard Young.

 

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2021-2022 issue of C Magazine.

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