IT was the era of dayglo, Duran Duran and Dirty Dancing and the only references to “one direction” were over which way the DJ asked you to skate around the hall.
Back in the 1980s there was only one thing bigger than the hair and the shoulder pads – and that was roller discos.
Two people who remember only too well what those days were like are brothers John Leslie and Grant Stott, who both began their DJing careers at the roller disco held at Coasters Nightclub, in Tollcross, now The Cavendish.
A nostalgic Facebook group celebrating the club’s 1980s incarnation has been growing in popularity and now has more than 900 members.
John, who hosts John’s House Party in The Cavendish every Saturday night, says: “There would usually be an afternoon and an evening session for the roller disco and people would be queued round the block for both of them. Everybody absolutely loved it and it was always a great crowd, there was never any bother.”
City personality, and younger brother, Grant, who started DJing in the club a few years after former Blue Peter presenter John, agrees.
“Maybe it’s just harder to be in a bad mood on roller skates? You would get a great mix of people too and everyone just got on. We’re both really grateful to this club – we wouldn’t be where we are today without it,” he says.
The brothers mean that statement in more ways than one. Not only did Coasters give the two budding DJs their first big break, it was also where their parents first met.
“The club was used for tea dances back then,” explains John. “I brought my dad in recently to see if he could remember where he first saw mum, but he said the place was unrecognisable, though that may have had more to do with the hundreds of women in to see The Dreamboys male strippers!”
However, while the days of tea dances may be long gone, the nights of roller disco are making a comeback, attracting fitness and nostalgia enthusiasts in equal numbers.
Three of the ladies leading the charge are Julie Millar, Rebecca Allan and Lara Dunbar, who together run Skate Fit, which offers fun fitness classes to people at all levels of skating experience. Due to increasing demand, an extra class is expected to be added to the schedule, taking them up to three a week.
“The classes started after me and Lara realised we both had a passion for skating,” says Julie, 41, who lives in Holyrood.
“We were also both in a position where we had to have a rethink about what we wanted to do with our lives, so we had the idea to start running the classes. We did about six months of training and then started officially around September last year and we’ve been so thrilled with the response. It’s so much fun and you don’t even realise you’re exercising.”
Roller skating involves all the major muscle groups, yet puts far less pressure on the joints than running, while giving the same aerobic benefits. It is also a fun way to burn calories as it is estimated the average person skates at around 6mph and will shift at least 350 calories over a 60-minute period.
The newest member of the team is Rebecca, 19, of Bonnyrigg, who has not looked back since her aunt Julie reminded her of her childhood passion.
“I hadn’t done it for years but it all comes back very quickly,” she says. “We can teach people more advanced things like jumping and skating backwards once they feel more confident. I’m sure we’ll be seeing some fantastic moves at our Skate in the City night later this month.”
Skate in the City is an 80s themed roller disco taking place on Friday, May 17, with another event scheduled for June. Skate hire is available and prizes are being offered for the best dressed skaters. The event will be held at City Nightclub, in Market Street, as changes to the layout of The Cavendish mean there would not be enough space for all expected revellers.
And for any single gentlemen out there who fancy taking a spin around the floor, the odds are very much in your favour – for the time being, at least.
“At some events I’ve been at recently the vast majority of skaters have been female and it would be great to even that out,” says Grant.
• Tickets for Skate in the City are available from www.ents24.com/edinburgh-events/