This Flashback Friday, here’s a look back at one of the most famous locations in Alexandria, Virginia – the Alexandria Roller Rink (a.k.a. Alexandria Arena).
The arena was located at 807 N. Saint Asaph Street in what is now the Old Town North neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia. The Sheraton Suites in Alexandria, Virginia is now on the site and has been since the roller rink closed in the mid-80s.
Some of rocks biggest, rock and roll bands of the 1960s and 70s played the main stage of the Alexandria Arena in its heyday: The Yardbirds, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, the Doors, Jeff Beck, Janis Joplin, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Jethro Tull, and Rod Stewart just to name a few.
I remember roller skating there, what about you? Did you attend a show there? What are some of your favorite memories of the Alexandria Roller Rink? Discuss below…
Via OHA (PDF)
The Alexandria roller rink, also known as the Alexandria Arena, opened on November 23, 1948, at the corner of Madison and North St. Asaph streets. Originally an affiliate of the national chain America On Wheels, the Alexandria rink had maple floors and a huge Wurlitzer organ. It was a massive structure that could accommodate 3,000 skaters at one time, and dozens of skating exhibitions and speed skating competitions were held there.
The venue was so large that it soon served other purposes. The arena functioned as a dance hall and also hosted conferences, dog shows, boxing matches and even performing horses. But beyond roller skating, the rink was best known as a concert hall.
In its earliest days Guy Lombardo and his orchestra performed there, and in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it became a very popular stage for rock acts. Top stars including Janis Joplin, Jethro Tull and Alice Cooper – and his boa constrictor – played the roller rink, which was advertised as a “psychedelic ballroom” or the “Alexandria Rock Arena.” Fans paid $4 or $5 for general admission and sat on the floor, and most bands played two shows a night.
The roller rink later had financial problems and closed in 1979. It re-opened with different owners in the 1980s, but closed for good in 1986. The roller rink, which had occupied half a block, was demolished, and a new office and hotel complex was built on the site.