Great Skate reunion will let the good times roll

By: Maria Allard | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 17, 2024

 Greg Childs, of Warren, was a disc jockey, floor guard and snack bar clerk when he worked at the Great Skate in Roseville. He’ll be at the Great Skate Alumni of the ’80s Get-Together being held from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 25.

Greg Childs, of Warren, was a disc jockey, floor guard and snack bar clerk when he worked at the Great Skate in Roseville. He’ll be at the Great Skate Alumni of the ’80s Get-Together being held from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 25.

Photo provided by Greg Childs


ROSEVILLE — While growing up in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, the Great Skate was the local hangout.

Kids from Warren, Fraser, Roseville, Sterling Heights and East Detroit (now Eastpointe) spent many of their weekends at the roller rink, skating in circles to Queen and Michael Jackson songs while forming friendships along the way.

Rink rats, it’s time to lace up your skates again: a Great Skate reunion is planned. The Great Skate Alumni of the ’80s Get-Together will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 25. Admission is $5 per person, and the event is for ages 18 and older.

Bob Costa, who worked at the neighborhood haunt when it opened in the 1970s as International Skating Village, is the main organizer of the reunion. Costa, who grew up in Warren and moved to Roseville as a teen, remembers when the skating rink was built.

“I was there when they put the shovel in the ground in 1974,” Costa said.

He immediately got a job there even though he didn’t know how to roller skate. He eventually learned some fancy footwork and stayed on as an employee for many, many years. Turned out it wasn’t just a job, but a social gathering.

“I met a lot of kids from different communities,” the 1978 Roseville High School graduate said. “It was always exciting to go to work and see your friends. A lot of memories for me.”

One lasting impression was watching the clientele that skated exceptionally well.

“I wanted to be like those people,”  Costa said.

With no cellphones back then, the young customers captured special moments on Polaroid cameras, and many nights were set aside for elementary school roller skating parties and sleepovers. Sometimes friends raced each other under the blasting music, couples held hands when ballads played, and everyone gathered in the middle for “The Hokey Pokey.”

In the early days, attendees skated around to the rock ‘n’ roll music of the era. One disc jockey in particular always ended the night with Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven,” Costa said. In the latter part of the 1970s when the soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever” was released, disco took over.

“That really pumped up the roller skaters,” Costa said. “I saw a lot of trends go through there.”

Costa is hopeful many former skaters and staff members will attend The Great Skate Alumni of the ’80s Get-Together this weekend.

“It’s about the stories, the memories and the connection with people,” Costa said.

Another past employee returning for the reunion is Greg Childs. The Warren resident could often be found at the Great Skate. He worked there from 1984 to 1995 and again from 2015 to 2020. Childs did everything: floor guard, snack bar, disc jockey and management. The 1988 Warren Woods Tower High School graduate lived so close to the rink that he could walk to work.

“It was a cool job. You got to listen to music, talk to your friends and meet girls. I spent many New Year’s Eves there,” he said. “It was a simpler time. We had a lot of fun. It was a form of socialization for us kids.”

He made lifelong friends as the strobe lights flashed.

“The people we worked with, it was almost like a family,” Childs said. “I still know a lot of the people today.”

As one of the rink’s disc jockeys, Childs spun everything from Madonna to the Cult to Bon Jovi. Sometimes he’d toss in songs by Bob Seger or the Georgia Satellites, while other nights called for Prince or Janet Jackson.

“I played it all. It just depended on the era of music,” Childs said. “‘Dream Weaver’ was a couples song.”

Childs even had a favorite Sunday night song “to get things started.” That song was Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”

Childs also said that working with the public taught him “to be a better communicator.” He’s definitely looking forward to the reunion and catching up with longtime friends.

“Seeing these people, they have tons of stories,” Childs said.

Great Skate is located at 29100 Hayes Road. The phone number is (586) 777-4301.

Information on the reunion is available on “The Great Skate Alumni of the 80s Get-Together” Facebook page.