UC Merced’s first day of classes kicked off Thursday with a Roller Skating Disco Party at the still-new Wallace-Dutra Amphitheatre.
As I approached the line of about ten people waiting to sign a waiver at the Office of Student Life (OSL) booth and receive their paper bracelets, uncertainty began to creep its way into my gut. The anti-climactic students yawned as they stood waiting, their feet tapping impatiently on the pavement. In the background I could hear a faint thrumming of music, and nothing else.
A group of five passed me as they exited the amphitheatre, and an unknown student called to me, “The line’s not worth it. Just sayin’.”
Discouraged about my article assignment but still eager to make the best of it, I signed in and clumsily made my way through the wet, slippery grass covering the hill. I reached the top, then looked down, and found a sudden flurry of movement.
Below me, on the hard plastic floor of the amphitheatre, students (in roller skates and roller blades) swirled around in a white picket with a look of self-engagement and laughter. Rose Royce’s “Car Wash” and other hit disco songs from the 70’s blasted from a speaker, and neon lights flickered across the stage wildly.
Surrounding the stage were rolling grassy hills where students lounged in groups of three or four, chattering about or sitting silently and gazing at the twinkling lake just beyond the stage.
About every minute a student would collapse on the plastic floor, their skates sweeping out from underneath them. “Ooh”’s came from onlookers, and each time someone slipped another would offer their hand to help the fallen victim.
All students were welcomed to the event, but as one OSL employee mentioned, the party was intended for new students to encourage them to meet new people.
I came to the event with a feeling of doubt, but left with a grin after circling inside the stage with wobbly roller blades on. The event was well worth it, as freshman Edward Carias-Cardona further expressed.
“UC Merced keeps surprising me,” Carias-Cardona said. “[the Roller Skating Disco Party] starts this year off right.”