For a brief moment in the late-70s, roller disco was all the rage. On September 8, Pier 39 wants to bring it back with a 70s Roller Disco Party.

In the late 1970s, roller skating was the recreational activity of choice in the streets.  You don’t need to look much farther than San Francisco to understand the fad. According to a 2011 piece by Peter Hartlaub in SFGate, Golden Gate Park was significantly more skater friendly in the 70s than it is now. Perhaps that was by necessity. Cars were denied acces to many of the roads through Golden Gate Park to keep it safe for roller bookin’ and boogiein’ roller booted cool cats and kittens.

As an aside, do click through to Hartlaub’s article. It features a series of can’t miss joyful skating photos. This city has never been happier.

Mike Maloney/Chronicle 1979
As skaters filled the streets, the sound of disco filled the pop charts and clubs. Aesthetically, the way feet and hips were moving on the dance floors were similar to how skaters bend and weave. It made complete sense for skating to merge with the music and give birth to roller discos.

Pier 39 is bringing back the moment in time when disco and skating merged with a 70s Roller Disco Party. The event is part of the Pier’s year long 40th-anniversary celebration. After a year of construction, the famous tourist spot opened for business in October of 1978. There was no doubt plenty of roller skating all around brand new Pier and up the Embaracdaero to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Advanced registration is encouraged and guests can bring their own wheels and pads or rent on the spot. Attendees should tap into the spirit of the roller disco movement by dressing for that moment in time.

Need inspiration for what to wear? Lucky you, roller disco spawned films trying to cash-in on the success of John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever – except with skates. The bar is fairly low when making a list of the best roller disco films. Here are three to check out.

Possibly the best known is Xanadu. The 1980 romantic musical fantasy film about a love-stricken Olympian Muse stuck on Earth isn’t entirely a roller disco film, but roller skating does make up the film’s core. The most important scene is below.


If you’re looking for the true spirit of roller disco captured on film look no further than Roller Boogie. In this clip, I’m the guy in the yellow shirt and helmet messing up everyone’s jam.

Skatetown, USA is one of the harder to find roller disco films, which is a shame because this film marks Patrick Swayze’s film debut. Bonus, the trailer starts off like a horror movie.

In addition to Pier 39’s disco event, San Francisco continues to provide plenty of opportunities to spin your wheels. We even still have a roller disco.


  • The Church of 8 Wheels keeps roller disco alive four nights a week at the Sacred Heart Church on Fell and Fillmore.
  • Skating doesn’t dominate Golden Gate Park anymore, but there’s a still a “Skatin’ Place.” The area was founded by San Francisco’s Godfather of Skate David Miles, Jr. and is a safe skating spot in the park. It’s open every day. More details at the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association website.
  • Every Friday night the Midnight Rollers meet at the Ferry Building. They roll up the Embarcadero wearing neon and pumping out dance music.
  • Last, but hardly the least, is B.A.D.: Bay Area Derby. Skater punk on the surface, but roller disco at heart.


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