Boogie Night Jive Skatin’ at the Preston Street Disco

Who could forget the iconic pose of a young John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, king of the disco, finger pointing towards the heavens as though calling down the God’s of dance to send forth the funk? How about scenes from the world-famous Studio 54 as the dance floor became a boogie wonderland of sweat soaked bodies getting their grove on? If you were hitting up a club in the late 70s one thing was clear: you best know how to get down in Funkytown.

But what if those dancin’ and singin’ and movin’ to the groovin’ had to do it all on ice skates? Preston BIA aims to see when it marries the ice cold Canadian winter pastime with the red hot 70’s club scene for a DiscoSkate night in Plouffe Park on Friday, February 9th.

Ottawa’s Little Italy is mainly associated with fine dining. If people wanted to dance they’d finish up their plate of pasta, sip the last of their espresso and head on into the Market. Lori Mellor, Executive Director of the Preston Street BIA, tells Ottawa Life that, while true the neighbourhood is a place better known for Italian food, the street can still dazzle things up in a big way especially when they have Dems & Doll, two of the most colourful local artists working today, adding to the glow. The duo’s bright and eye-catching murals and exhibits can be seen all over town and were a perfect fit to bring more pop to Preston.

“We had noticed Dems & Doll several years ago. We liked the art projects they were creating, and we liked their vibe,” says Mellor.

Last year the BIA worked with the artists to create Night Lights, an interactive lighting event that brought close to 3,000 visitors to the area over two days. When thinking up the next way to get people to start saying “meet me on Preston Street”, the duo came up with the unique and unlikely pairing of disco and ice.

“We are Canada. Let’s embrace it!” says Sarah Doll on the creation of the outdoor, on-rink dance club. “We wanted to do something fun in the cold winter months and encourage people to be outdoors. A disco rink on ice felt like a fresh idea since we have a huge rink in the area.”

The cold isn’t much of a concern for organizers of what is being called the ultimate Instagrammable winter wonderland. They fully expect all Dancing Queens and Love Machines to melt the sub-zero night with a (burn, baby, burn) disco inferno!

Mellor still has fond memories of coming of age in the disco era. Many songs are tied to moments of her youth that asking her to choose a favourite is like asking Barry White to sing in a higher pitch.

“I’m not sure what era of disco music our DJ will be bringing but it’ll be great to get out there and skate to it,” she says excitedly.

Doll, on the other hand…err…foot, doesn’t miss a precious pulsing beat when flashing back to the post-disco Indeep hit “Last Night a D.J. Saved My Life” as a personal favourite. She also explains that it’s not just the possible life saving tunes being spun ice-side that will glitz up the evening. The artists have put a lot of thought into bringing an ice-skating disco to vibrant reality.  

“Our rink will glow and sparkle with incredible lights and art projections,” Doll says. “We have amazing dj's playing tunes from all over the spectrum from House music, Funk, Disco and Dance. That will make you boogie!”

Giving new meaning to the phrase “knock your socks off”, admission to this all-ages boogie night is free but voluntary donations of new socks are encouraged to support the Ottawa Mission’s Socks for the Homeless campaign.

“They are outside in the elements, and their feet are really exposed to the cold,” says Mellor on the need for the footwear, especially in the winter.  “(The homeless) need several pair of socks, so they can change them regularly, to prevent trench foot, and other maladies. They do not have the opportunity to wash laundry on a regular basis, and clean dry socks are critically important to their well-being.”

Along with supporting a good cause, organizers hope people will let a little winter wild out to play during a month usually reserved for heated hibernation. Along with sculptures, photo booths and the light show that has to accompany this kind of party, they are encouraging attendees to dress up in their 70’s club scene best. So break out the skates, slip on some platform shoes, squeeze into on some hot pants or bell bottoms, bust out some Fawcett-style curls, find some bling, open neck, button down and get ready to shake, shake, shake your booty. When it comes to glitz and glam era that was disco, that’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, they liked it!