Mixed emotions: Monterey rises, Gold Coast falls

Note: The Monterey Club has announced plans to close at the end of 2011.
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If you were at The Monterey Club on Monday for the Nekromantix show or any of the other concerts this week, you surely noticed that the club has yet to open its expanded concert space. Negotiations and permits are taking longer than expected, but the owners hope to have it open in time for the Revenge of the Tiki 3 event scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 8.

Presented with the adjacent Kreepy Tiki Tattoos, the 14-hour bash (2 p.m. until 4 a.m.) is scheduled to include 30 bands (including country hellraiser Wayne Hancock from Austin), a custom car and bike show, vendors, a burlesque show and more. The bigger concert venue will be a welcome addition to the South Florida scene.

The facade of the Gold Coast Roller Rink in Fort Lauderdale was intact on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. But demolition was well under way. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

The facade of the Gold Coast Roller Rink in Fort Lauderdale was intact on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. But demolition was well under way. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Those at the Nekromantix concert, or who may have recently visited The Monterey or Kreepy Tiki, may also have noticed another change in the area (just north of Fort Lauderdale International Airport on the east side of U.S. 1). A landmark building is being demolished.

Next door to The Monterey Club, Gold Coast Roller Rink, one of the few remaining vintage rinks in Florida, is in the process of being torn down after closing in mid-August. The property was purchased and will soon be home to a pet-boarding facility for travelers using the airport. Good news for jet-setting pet owners (or Monterey clubgoers looking for some extra parking), but bad news for skaters as well as fans of iconic buildings.

The rink ran for 64 years and at the time of its demise was the oldest in Florida and one of the longest in continuous operation in the United States. The owner decided to sell because of a decline in customers and mounting maintenance costs. A quote in an article in New Times summed it up perfectly: “Another piece of South Florida history is getting bulldozed.”

By Friday, Sept. 9, 2011, the facade of the Gold Coast Roller Rink in Fort Lauderdale had become victim to the wrecking ball. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

By Friday, Sept. 9, 2011, the facade of the Gold Coast Roller Rink in Fort Lauderdale had become victim to the wrecking ball. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

In an interview with New Times, operations manager Miles Miron lamented: “During the heyday, we used to have 600 to 800 people a night. When the new owner took over, a lot of things have gone by the wayside.”

It’s sad when such an historic structure bites the dust. You have to wonder: Could more have been done to preserve it? But these are hard economic times. In its latter years, the rink was not the most happening place but it was still home to the Gold Coast Derby Grrls, who now are in search of a new home base. The Derby Grrls were in the midst of the regional playoffs when they got the boot. They’re reportedly eyeing Fort Lauderdale’s War Memorial Auditorium and a site in West Palm Beach. [See recent story in New Times.]

For leisure skaters, the closest rinks are Super Wheels in Kendall, and Galaxy Skateways in Davie and North Lauderdale. But none of those can hold a candle to the historic Gold Coast.

The entrace remains as a sad reminder of the past at the demolished Gold Coast Roller Rink in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Sept. 9, 2011. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

The entrace remains as a sad reminder of the past at the demolished Gold Coast Roller Rink in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Sept. 9, 2011. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Opened in 1947, the rink was a fixture for generations of South Floridians. For 43 years, it hosted a groundbreaking gay skate night, which was still running until the very end. Lauren “Lolo” Reskin, owner of Sweat Records in Miami, promoted many events at Gold Coast, including her popular Roll Out parties in 2006 and 2007.

According to an article in FloridaAgenda.com, boys had to wear jackets and girls had to wear dresses in order to skate in the 1940s. Admission cost a quarter, skate rentals were a dime and a hot dog set you back a nickel. Everybody was welcome. African-Americans mingled with whites during the 1960s, which was rare in the South.

Now, the Gold Coast is just a pile of rubble. And memories. If you’d like to share your stories about the Gold Coast, you can join nearly 1,000 other fans of the Gold Coast Roller Rink Alumni Facebook page.

More local media coverage
NBC Miami (video) | WPLG Miami (video) | Miami Herald | Sun Sentinel

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
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