Jasmin called me several weeks ago to discuss the ‘sham project. She said I should expect various levels of jealousy about what I am doing here. I get to stay at home, mooch around, take some time out. It’s like a holiday at home. It’s like being a tourist in your own town. Not to mention the inevitable “but is it really art?” etc etc.

I was surprised. I guess I hadn’t thought much beyond the confines of my own list-of-things-to-do. But notwithstanding the curly question “is it art?” (which I will add to the FAQ’s, and attempt to answer – hopefully with your help – in the near future) I bet yer all gonna be jealous of what I did yesterday!

I rollerskated at the Majestic RollerRink.
Yes sir, and damn, was it fun!

Here’s what happened. Earlier in the week, Sunny from the Herald emailed:“I have just spent about 2 hours reading the blog and feel like I’ve woken up out of a nice dream!” She was keen to do a story, and extra keen on getting inside the RollerRink, where she spent every Thursday night of 2001. Now, I had been thinking how cool it’d be to get in there, but of course, I hadn’t done anything about it. And here she was, excited enough to do all the ringing around for me. The power of the press.
Just before half one, I checked in with Luciana to see if she wanted to come and check out the rink. I remembered she was a big fan of skating too. We’d been reminiscing on the porch about how cool it used to be, what a loss it was to the ‘sham that it had closed up. She looked a bit stressed – she’s got a presentation to work on for uni, about Baudelaire – but she couldn’t resist the lure of the rink.

Rachelle was excited too. She called Wolfie so he could come along with us and be in the photos. She brushed bits of dry grass out of his coat and fussed a bit like a mum. And we were on our way.
Down at the rink, a cute old fella showed up, and opened the door for us while we waited for Sunny. Luciana and I couldn’t believe it. Inside, the place was exactly as we remembered. The skates were still up there on the shelves. The woodpanelling at the skate counter still had remnants of the texta-inscribed instruction: “ONE LINE ONLY NO SCREAMING” (the word “SCREAMING” almost worn completely blank by the contact of countless writhing bodies).
Oh, there was plenty of priceless signage still up:






Thank you.


Roller Skating is a
dangerous sport.
All patrons are advised
that although the
management takes all
precautions to ensure
your safety, you are
advised no responsibility
is taken and that you
are Roller Skating
entirely at your own risk.


Apparently, despite these efforts to warn skaters that no responsibility would be taken for accidents, this is precisely what led to the rink’s demise. A lady had some sort of heart failure in the late 90s, and sued for several millions. They managed to come to a smaller settlement (maybe half a million) but then no insurance company would touch them after that.

Public liability claims another scalp, and fun becomes just too expensively risky. Luciana and I sighed. Nostalgic. Angry. Sad. Resigned. These stories are just too predictable.

Last year, I remember signing a petition at the chemist about the old RollerRink. I thought maybe it was to fight against development going through. But no, it was just to make sure that when the apartments (inevitably) get built, the owner puts in sufficient carparking. Probably the least inspiring petition I’ve ever put my name to.

But it seems that sale has now fallen through! And even better – there’s a new deal in negotiation – believe it or not, to turn the place into a cinema!


The photographer arrived, and set me up to pose with Wolfie in the middle of the empty rink. After a few hundred shots like that, Luciana and I strapped on our skates (size 6, size 10). We did loops around and around (me pulling along a rather reluctant Wolfie) trying to get ourselves in just the right spot for the perfect shot. It felt great to have the wheels spinning under my feet (although, just like the old days, the skates had a tendency to veer off to one side).

By the end of this, Wolfie was pooped. We posed a bit more outside, but the poor little fella kept flopping onto the pavement for rests. I tried propping him up and giving him pats and encouraging words, to get him to stand tall for the picture, but he was over it.

Sunny and I sat outside Sweet Belem for a coffee and natas. It was time for the interview. She had one of those “microcassette” recorders with the teeny tapes inside to record every word of infallible wisdom that passed my lips. But on New Canterbury Road, trucks roar by every few minutes, no doubt obliterating the good bits and leaving instead banalities like “yeah man, it’s all about the blurring of art and life” and turning statements of true genius like “I don’t think its unfair to say that artists now are using the ideas developed by avant-garde artists in the 1960s like tools to make a new kind of socially connected art work” into potentially libellous declarations such as “I don’t […] like […] work.”

Sunny asked me if I always over-intellectualise things. That was a good one. And although it seems she really likes the project, she said a few folks she’d mentioned it to around the office were a bit indignant. The old “once again artists are getting away with these easy scams!” – and – “Heck, I wouldn’t mind being paid to stay at home for two months” etc etc.

I ranted a little about the curly concept of the “sense of community”, how local councils sometimes seem a little too keen to push rhetoric about “togetherness and belonging” – and how within this schema, “unity” and “diversity” are somehow two sides of the same coin. I’m really at the beginning, but I’d like to find a way to think more deeply about these ideas. You know, over-intellectualise ’em a bit.

Sunny paid for the natas, and bought a few extras on the Herald account for me to take home. We acknowledged that this had been a kind of writers’ exchange – she’s covering me, I’m covering her covering me. I get in first though – her article won’t come out til Tuesday.

As she was jumping in the cab, I asked if there was any chance of reading her piece before it gets published. She said not really, and sped away. Fair enough. She hasn’t proof-read this one either…


  1. Mickie

    KEN OATH!!! I’ll sign whatever disclaimer i need to to regain the right to crack my noggin on that big floor.

  2. Sarah Haid

    Hey Lucas,

    My name’s Sarah and there’ve been Petershamites in my family for as long as I can remember. I saw your artical in the Herald last night and felt a pang of pride…but most bloody importantly I nearly peed myself when I realised the photo was taken inside the Roller Rink.

    I put on an indie-pop disco night which rocks some SERIOUS socks. It’s pretty small scale at the moment but fabulous fun and growing. I would kill to have one of my parties inside that mofo rink and have spent months calling the council and roller-skating associations and the like, but no-one I speak to knows who I should contact about it.

    I’d be eternally grateful if you could help me out in any way. Do you have a contact number for the Rink or could you point me in the direction of someone who does? If I can make this happen you would be guest of honour at the party and definitely have something to write about! It’d be a shame not to have a massive goodbye bash at the world-famous Petersham Majestic Rollerink before it forever fades into cinemaness.

    And by the way, my sister throws some killer shindigs at her place on Bishop St…we’ll let you know when the next one’s on if you’re interested.

    Hope to hear from you soon!


  3. shortleftleg Post author

    i will pass your note along to sunny, who organised the photo shoot. the reason for the closedown was public liability, so it seems unlikely that the space would be opened up again for a public event with all the risk that entails. still, there is no harm at all in trying eh!
    ps i would love to come to a bishop street shindig, or even perhaps a quiet bishop street cup of tea with yer sister. cheerio

  4. shortleftleg Post author

    sure margie
    are you a local? ya wanna co-author the petition?
    (oh, ya must be a local, if you know about the chemist?).
    on the other hand, i’m not sure this is a petition-able issue. who would we be petitioning?
    you see, much as i hate to say it, “the free market decides” (sigh). its all up to whoever buys the building, and their plans for it…

    I’m interested in how the chemist becomes THE site in the street where a petition might happen. something about it makes it kinda “public” or an “official” point of call…is it to do with the fact that it sells serious items that you really need, rather than the relative frivolity of the cake shops or delis?

  5. Alex Broun

    Hi Lucas,

    So cool about the cinema. What a great idea !

    And now I found out how you got inside too.

    I heard they use to have Gay Roller Doscos there on Friday nights ! Is that true ? My ex-girlfriend would like to go.


  6. Liz

    I don’t like how they called the article, ‘Sham Artist Refuses to Push Boundaries’, it feels like a disguised insult, somehow.

  7. Ray

    Wow! thanks for the photos :-)

    I used to go to the rink every tuesday night, but when it shut down I never really got to take any photos. Was always disappointed that I didnt, but now you’ve done got a whole bunch of them!

    I always still have hope that one day it will reopen, but I dont like my chances.


  8. Rob

    Another Icon GONE
    I used to skate at that georgeous old rink 26 years ago(I was 12) and I was surprised at how upset I was when I read you article.
    Skating was the best part of my childhood, thanks for the screams Majestic…

  9. jana

    Is there any chance you’d pass my details on to Sunny too? I had just given up on my dream of a Xanadu Roller Disco for my 30th til someone sent me this link!!

  10. Dan

    Hi Lucas,

    I just found your site and have been enjoying reading your work.

    I was also so happy to find this story and see that the rink hasn’t been pulled down yet – well, as of May! I saw you had another request to contact Sunny regarding events in the Majestic, and I would love it if you could pass my details on as well please.

    I’m a dance-party promoter and would love to use the venue for our next event.

    My email is

    I’d really appreciate it if you’re able to put me in contact.

    Cheers and thanks,
    Dan :)

  11. shortleftleg Post author

    hi dan, hi all

    dan, thanks for your comments!

    i have emailed sunny again, and will try to put you in touch. however, it should be noted that the reason the rink is not operating is a public liability issue. thus, i would say its *unlikely* that they would let you run an event there, for the same reasons.


  12. sunny

    Hello rollerfans,
    As Lucas points out (again), the place closed because of a million dollar lawsuit that nearly ruined them. Now they are no longer able to get an insurer to cover them.
    No insurance = not worth the risk.
    But if you feel quite sure that they’ll make an exception just for your 30th/dance party/skate down memory lane, you can try calling them on 9569 3233.
    But I wouln’t get yr hopes up – the only way we could get in was by promising we’d be in and out in 15 minutes and I think they didn’t expect us to actually skate, just to use the building as a backdrop for the photo.
    Good luck!

  13. Dan

    Hi guys, and thanks for your response.

    I’ll give the number a try and see what we can organise. Fingers crossed it’ll be something!

    Hope you’re all well & thanks again :)


  14. Katherine

    Today I saw the ad for the sale of the grand Majestic. So many memories flooding back as I shed a silent tear. Those good ol days of skating there to the sounds of Sue Thompson’s “Norman” and other songs of that era of the 60s. I will miss it. Hope that by some miracle, a wealthy promoter buys the site and can afford the liability fees, and start it up again as a roller rink, after all there is a new generation now who would like to try something new :-). Thank you also for the memories and the photos at Flikr.

  15. shortleftleg Post author

    I love the way the internet helps us to join up the dots. I was in radio 2ser studio editing up a little interview with artist Claire Conroy when I bumped into an intrepid journalist called Heather, who’s making a doco about the Majestic Roller Rink.

    As well as rummaging through the archives to find out the official histories of the building, Heather is also interested in hearing from people about their small personal rollerskating stories. So…did you have a party in there? Learn to skate? Fall in love? Smash out your two front teeth? Try to convert the place into a cinema? Whatever your tale, let’s hear it!

    Check out Heather’s blog – and get in touch with her to be a part of it all:


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