Los Angeles skaters won’t be forced to travel to other places around Southern California such as Cerritos, Chino and Glendale, to lace up anymore. World on Wheels (W.O.W) is set to re-open this summer.
The sound of smooth wood beneath eight quads are part of the soundtrack of life for many Angelinos. Whether you rolled with high top boots and a set of Reidell’s or lesser-known brands didn’t matter. As long as you made it to World on Wheels in Mid-City on the weekends you would find a party.
If you were really down, your parents dropped you off for 7-to-7 skate nights for a coed sleepover from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next morning.
Originally constructed in 1981, and then resurrected in 1992 after the riots of that same year, the spot once served as the broadcast home for the hip-hop station KDAY and hosted many rap battles between up-and-coming MCs. A young LL Cool J, MC Lyte, YoYo, Ice Cube and many others tested their skills on a makeshift stage.
Without the music, W.O.W. would’ve been just a building. Friday’s were dedicated to gospel music. Wednesdays were dedicated to R&B and hip-hop. In the early days, disco night made way for the “downtown step’ once a month.
The rink was its own community that set the schedule for the social scene of three generations until 2013 when it closed again after owner, AMF Bowling Centers, filed for bankruptcy.
The closing led to the creation of a Facebook group called Save World on Wheels where fans shared memories, photos, and nostalgic videos from birthday parties, meet-ups and even engagements. The emotional outpouring seemed to be contained to social media until earlier this year.
Thanks to new owner Tommy Karas and “voluntary consultant” rapper Nipsey Hussle, W.O.W. underwent a significant renovation and will soon be open for business again.
“The space was horrific, probably one of the most horrific spaces I had seen,” he recalls, describing caved-in walls, beaten-up floors and plumbing that needed significant repairs, Karas told L.A. Weekly. “It was 30 years old. It was just a nightmare, an absolute nightmare.”
Perhaps the re-construction was a nightmare. However, for young and old the new World on Wheels ushers in the possibility of skate night once again. Roll bounce!