Four years after closing, beloved Los Angeles roller rink World on Wheels is set to reopen its doors this summer.
As LA Weekly reports, the Mid-City rink is being revived by nightclub manager Tommy Karas, who is collaborating with rapper Nipsey Hussle on the project. So far, Karas has reportedly refurbished the space, putting in new flooring and commissioned wall murals by artist Tonia Calderon. (He also appears to have installed a new illuminated sign out front).
Karas tells LA Weekly that World on Wheels was in “horrific” shape when he bought it, but he’s redone the place since then with a clubby concept that includes private lounges and virtual reality games. The rink has no firm opening date yet, but Karas says it will likely be a little over a month away.
The rink closed in 2013, after its owner, AMF Bowling Centers, filed for bankruptcy. Its closure drew an emotional response from diehard skaters, community members, and those nostalgic for the venue’s colorful heyday.
A Facebook group called Save World on Wheels sprang up in 2013 and has become a repository for memories, photos, and videos from the rink’s multi-decade history.
Since opening in 1981, the rink has served as an important hip hop incubator, with the fledgling KDAY radio station frequently broadcasting from the building. In the late 1980s, as the New York Times Magazine notes (and Snoop Dogg fondly remembers), the rink became something of a battleground for the rival Crip sets that surrounded the property.
Later, it was apparently safe enough that parents allowed kids to participate in the overnight “seven-on-seven” skate nights, as Nipsey Hussle tells LA Weekly.