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Downtown, the Greatest Skate in Town

 

I remember my parents taking me to Downtown at night for the first time, and walking down Hindley Street and seeing all the neon lights was amazing. Roller skating was great there. We had stuff to do, what do our kids have like this”?

Downtown, taken from the TV commercial.  everyone “Great skating, great music, good food and fun….It’s the greatest skate in town”.

Downtown, taken from the TV commercial. everyone “Great skating, great music, good food and fun….It’s the greatest skate in town”.

Most people seem to remember Downtown for the roller skating but in fact there were a number of games and activities, including dodgem cars, a shooting gallery, squash, side shows, a games arcade and a pretty good restaurant. It was a fun place that the whole family could enjoy, back when Hindley Street wasn’t quite as scary at night as it is today.

The first Downtown was built at 65 Hindley St in the late 70’s as a new multi-faceted complex as we remember it. In the mid 80’s though, it was relocated down the road towards King William Street in an old classic cinema building (formerly the State Theatre), which still has the old Downtown fin sign out the front (it’s now a grocery store).

The new facility was much smaller, and for a while, there was a Hungry Jacks on the ground floor which had replaced the restaurant. The old original Downtown building at 65 Hindley Street was demolished and replaced by a brand new hotel which we now know as the Holiday Inn.

What great memories and fun times we had. Went every Friday & Saturday nights. Remember going to the midnight skate and being locked in then finishing at 7.00am and heading off to the good ole Pancake Kitchen for breakfast before heading home south of Adelaide on the old STA buses.”

Downtown, from You Tube. Most people remember the roller skating but in fact there were a number of games and activities.

Downtown, from You Tube. Most people remember the roller skating but in fact there were a number of games and activities.

Some people seem to think that Downtown started at the old Wests Theatre, which is now the ASO headquarters. This has been something well debated for years. Timezone in the 90’s was in the old Wests Theatre, which, in the late 70’s & early 80’s was also home to the famous city nightclub, Sinatras!”

Of course everyone remembers the Downtown TV commercial, with the opening bars of the Petula Clark hit song from the 60s “Downtown’” and the voice-over reminding everyone “Great skating, great music, good food and fun….It’s the greatest skate in town”.

Downtown, from You Tube. Everyone remembers the Downtown TV commercial; "It's the greatest skate in town".

Downtown, from You Tube. Everyone remembers the Downtown TV commercial; “It’s the greatest skate in town”.

Whilst we are talking roller skating, who remembers Downtown’s arch rivals The Hindmarsh Rollodrome? In 1983 came Spinners, which was the newest and most modern rink ever to grace S.A. Spinners was located on the top floor of the old Cox-Foys building in Rundle Mall which was totally renovated and renamed the Renaissance Centre, complete with outside glass lifts!! A first for Adelaide. The lifts are still there but Spinners and of course, Downtown are sadly no more”.

Finally, long-time Adelaide Remember When poster Robert Verrall recalled “I remember going up to the Roller Skating rink which was on the top level if my memory is correct. The other vivid memory I have is how I smashed my head on the pole while riding the dodgems and fell rather awkwardly during one skating time. I also loved playing the pinball machines and the Space Invaders, Frogger, etc… Time Zone and others weren’t too bad but it’s Downtown which seems to hold the memories”!

And great memories they are too! What are your own memories of Downtown?

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15 Responses to Downtown, the Greatest Skate in Town

  1. Audrey December 12, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    My brother was the manager at Hindmarsh skating rink before it became spinners. I used to work there as a Skate coach. I loved the place, we used to have so much fun, especially the midnight to dawn skates. All the staff were fantastic. I know we used to be so fit, I would skate Friday nights, Saturday and Saturday nights, then Sunday and Sunday nights. If I could I would work during the week for the schools that used to come and skate. It really was my dream job.

  2. Julie Pllu (Overton) December 12, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    I use to go every Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat night to go skating there. All my friends and I met up there and skated the 3 to 4 session each night. About every 3 months they had a all night skate. Everyone was locked in to Downtown until 6am. We then skated home, took us about 2 hours but we loved our skating. Thanks for the good times Downtown they are now good memories. Hi to Ian Traeger, Andrew Chenoweth, Jo Facey, Debbie Kerr and Stacey Fava.

    • Isn Traeger July 18, 2016 at 12:33 am #

      Hi to Julie, from Ian

  3. Natalie December 13, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    You’ve forgotten the Elizabeth skating rink you had to be brave to go there, then they opened Skateline at Modbury zone th for all the northeasterners back in day 1980

  4. allan toole May 24, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

    I CAN REMEMBER GOING TO ELIZ SKATE WHEN IT HAD A WOODEN FLOOR AND STANDS ON SIDES AND BACK WALL. IT GOT MODERNIZED WITH HARD PAINTED FLOOR AND CANTEEN MOVED TO BACK WALL .GOT MY BOEN SPEED SKATES THERE. MOVED TOSKATELINE MODBURY AS FLOOR GUARD WHEN IT OPENED. SO MUCH FUN SO LONG AGO

  5. Wayne White October 26, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    I loved Downtown and Elizabeth Roller Skating Rink. I remember at Primary school there was a thing going where you got a certain amount of downtown tokens for getting A’s. That was my best acedemic year of my schooling 🙂

  6. Tiff October 26, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    Gawler had a roller drome as well…located next to the Holden Dealership. Spent all my weekends there!

  7. David Sarkies January 30, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

    It seems that Hindley Street is going through a period of gentrification these days (or at least what I noticed when I was last there). I have to admit that I was more of a Timezone guy, though I vaguely remember going to Downtown a couple of times. I still think it’s pretty cool that they still have the old sign out over the building. It does bring back memories.

    Wasn’t the old Theatre complex further down Hindley Street one of the old Greater Union Cinemas? I thought Timezone was located in the building next to the Holiday Inn?

  8. Ange May 24, 2016 at 11:24 pm #

    Bring to back, it was Heaven

  9. Rick Crettenden October 23, 2016 at 10:21 pm #

    Some of the best years of my life spent as the artistic coach for so many young talented skaters. Veronica Gonzalez and ….. (forgot christian) name Totty were the tiny tots, juniors included Dianne Burrell & Theo Otterspoor and my daughter Nicole. Seniors, Jane & Simon Wilkinson, Anne Wilson, Ange & Will Saddler esquire Australian dance champions, Kevin Wilkinson an Esquire figure skating champion and Rosemary Wilkinson valued contributor the Hindmarsh Club & to the national Skating body So many great skaters and too many for this old brain to recall but we were all so dedicated, had a lot of fun and brought home many medals & titles to the Hindmarsh Rollerdrome.
    My sincere apologies to those that I haven’t mentioned, you are in my thoughts but the names are a bit fuzzy.
    Kind regards
    Rick

  10. Seanln January 21, 2017 at 7:11 am #

    Port adelaide st ives was also big in the 80s
    What ever happened to all the skates you could hire? I still have my wips fanjets huggers zingers turbos heaps of bearings and bearing press in the shed

  11. Sandy February 11, 2017 at 11:12 pm #

    Loved downtown with my friend Kathryn N……. i remember all tbe crew and Ian traeger would drop me hom e after all night skating. Those were the best years of my life seriously Sandy S.

  12. jamie milligan June 27, 2017 at 3:38 am #

    i won a bike there in the eighties

  13. Carolyn November 26, 2017 at 4:31 am #

    I loved Downtown. I must’ve been about 12yrs old. The announcer called the rink for ‘speed skaters only’. I was having so much fun I didn’t want to get off the rink. For a while noone even noticed! I was feeling so elated as I was mostly keeping up with the speed skaters. ( something I always dreamed of becoming.). Finally someone noticed and caller me off the rink but I has so much fun. What a thrill to have been flying with the professional speed skaters. A MAGIC I will never forget!

  14. Carolyn November 26, 2017 at 4:31 am #

    I loved Downtown. I must’ve been about 12yrs old. The announcer called the rink for ‘speed skaters only’. I was having so much fun I didn’t want to get off the rink. For a while noone even noticed! I was feeling so elated as I was mostly keeping up with the speed skaters. ( something I always dreamed of becoming.). Finally someone noticed and caller me off the rink but I has so much fun. What a thrill to have been flying with the professional speed skaters. A MAGIC I will never forget!

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