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Top Hat Online Exhibit: The Roller Disco Days 1970s

Polly O'Donnell

Skateboarding at the Top Hat, late 1970’s. We loved those Saturdays getting on the 46A to the Top Hat. Helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, disco music and a Kryptonics skateboard. Early teenage bliss!

Linda Carroll

As a local I can confirm that I spent much of my misspent youth in the Top Hat.  I went to it as a Rollerdisco, a regular disco, I saw the Waterboys play there on the 29th of December 1988 plus some other bands but the Waterboys stands out for me.  I didn't really like the skateboarding period as I was getting too old for it, but I still remember it.  I'd say I was a regular attendee on and off from circa 1982 - 1989.  

I have fantastic memories of the place and of course like any good disco there was the odd dodgy moment i.e. a fight between different people from different areas.  The roller disco was by far my favourite period and I had a pair of skates exactly like the attached image and they were the best Christmas present I ever got.

I also remember two fantastic skaters they were two local guys, one's name was Gunter Rich from Sallynoggin, (I cannot remember Gunter's real name) and the other guy was from the Farm, he was Lana (Kieron) Lacey.  They were really good skaters and self-taught, I remember everyone was envious of them and of course because they were so good they always pulled the girls!

Dee Harvey

Interview with immersive media specialist Dee Harvey about her experience at The Top Hat when she visited it as a roller ring, in the mid 1980’s.

Interview conducted by Olivia Lynott

Ronan Tully

Interview with Ronan Tully about his experience skateboarding at The Top Hat and his memories at the roller disco and his experience meeting Tony Hawk at a skateboarding competition.

Interview conducted by Olivia Lynott

Roller Disco Era - click pictures for an enlarged version

Photo of Alan Rich and Mo Hudson, courtesy of Dave White.

Photo of Alan Rich and Mo Hudson, courtesy of Dave White.

Photo of Alan Rich and Mo Hudson, courtesy of Dave White.

Photo of Alan Rich and Mo Hudson, courtesy of Dave White.

Photo of Alan Rich and Mo Hudson, courtesy of Dave White.

Photo of Alan Rich and Mo Hudson, courtesy of Dave White.

Photo of Alan Rich and Mo Hudson, courtesy of Dave White.

Photo of Alan Rich and Mo Hudson, courtesy of Dave White.

Photo of the DJ inside the Top Hat courtesy of Alan Hennessy,

Photo of the DJ inside the Top Hat courtesy of Alan Hennessy.

Roller Skates courtesy of Linda Carroll.

Roller Skates courtesy of Linda Carroll.

Dave White

Interview with Dave White about his experience being an instructor at the roller disco at The Top Hat during the 1970’s and about meeting his future wife at The Top Hat.

Interview conducted by Olivia Lynott

Rachel Heffernan

I remember the Roller Disco times. I mostly remember what I call, 'Muggers Alley'. It was a small practice area beside the main floor where you could skate up and down. I spent most of my time there, I don't remember much of the music. I would have been in the older primary classes, I remember very sore bruised knees and being aware of 'boys'!

Interview with Fionnulala, age 48

Interview courtesy Niamh Ballantyne.

Q: What was your favourite part?

I loved the roller disco when I was a young teenager. The music was great, lots of fun with friends.

Q: How were the gigs different back then?

It was a small venue. Great atmosphere. Not the same lights etc as now.

Q: What did you wear?

Roller disco- ankle warmers, skirt, top.

Q: What did other people wear?

Regular 1980s fashion- baggy jeans, t-shirts.

Q: How is the current Dún Laoghaire scene?

No Top Hat, so no concert venue there. The Pavilion has taken over that. 

Q: Did you keep anything?

No

Q: Did you go with someone?

To the roller disco and concerts with friends.

Q: Did you meet new people?

I used to meet people at the roller disco. There was a slow set to hold hands and skate around together in a circle. 

Q: How did you get there and where did you go afterwards?

Got a lift from my parents to the disco, or the 46a or a taxi when I was older. 

Q: Where did you get tickets from and how much were they?

Pay at the door for the roller disco. Bought concert tickets in Golden Discs record shop. (pre-online Ticketmaster)

Q: How did you hear of it?

Friends

Q: What was the atmosphere like? 

Electric, lively, fun. 

Q: Is there a memory in particular that stands out from going to the Top Hat? if so could you explain?

New Year’s Eve- the early 90s, Waterboys Concert- super gig- a great way to bring in the new year.

Q: Do you think that gigs nowadays have the same ‘hype’ as they did back then?

There were less gigs, so it was always very exciting to get tickets and see a band live.