Portland’s not-so Secret Roller Disco temporarily took over an emptied department store at the Lloyd Center this week, turning the former Marshalls into a roller rink and dance party.
If you missed Thursday’s event, you can catch the second skating party Saturday night.
Secret Roller Disco hosts free weekly pop-up skating events at different Portland locations, which are announced a few days in advance on Instagram. Most discos are held at schools, parks or parking lots.
“It’s always free, it’s all-wheels welcome, and we bring in a bunch of deejays, different styles of music,” said Francesca Berrini, who along with her husband and several friends started Secret Roller Disco in 2020 during the worst of the pandemic. Their first event was held in a parking garage.
“It was basically a potluck collaborative event between a few friends,” Berrini said. “You could be six feet away from your friends who you hadn’t seen in months. To be able to meet outside in roller skates was just a feeling of freedom.”
Today, the Secret Roller Derby Instagram page has nearly 19,000 followers, and hundreds of people attend each skate party. Berrini received a Vibrant Spaces Community Event grant from the city of Portland to keep the discos rolling, and attendees can also purchase T-shirts and other merch to support the project.
In September, Secret Roller Disco hosted a skating afterparty for The Street Trust at the Lloyd Center, which proved so popular, several more skate events were planned at the Northeast Portland mall.
The events are all-ages and are generally BYO wheels (though occasionally rentals are available.) While most attendees are on roller skates, skateboards and scooters are also welcome.
“It sounds kind of corny but we really, genuinely do this to bring joy to our community,” Berrini said. “If you look around, the outfits people are wearing, the style that they have, it’s all different walks of life. It’s everything I love about Portland, and it’s why we keep doing it.”
If you go: The Secret Roller Disco will be back at the Lloyd Center from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday with music by Oasis PDX and DJ Prashant. Enter from the parking lot near Northeast Halsey Street and 15th Avenue at the site of the former Marshalls. Bring your own skates or wheels.
— Samantha Swindler, email@example.com, @editorswindler