RINGMA, Bettie, Marc MILLER and Curt HOPPE. Roller Disco: Bettie Visits Empire Roller Drome.

(Amsterdam): Miller-Ringma-Hoppe, no date. (C. 1978). An album of twelve colour photographs, mounted, and titled, of Bettie Rignma with many of the stars from the Empire Roller Drome in Brooklyn. The Empire first opened in 1941 and by the 1960s, the Empire had gained prominence for the many innovative roller dance styles that were pioneered there including the “Brooklyn Bounce,” also known as the “Wobbly Duck.” Adding to the rink’s prestige was the presence of Bill Butler, one of the most influential skaters of the 1960s and 70s. He made the Empire his home base during these years, practicing and teaching there and attracting skaters from around the country eager to learn from him and witness his unique “jamming” technique. The Empire it played a major part in the roller disco craze that swept the nation–it was one of the first places to popularize this new style of skating and attracted people from across the country. The Empire was also the first rink to replace organ music with a live DJ–for over 15 years the internationally acclaimed DJ Big Bob (Robert Clayton). The disco atmosphere inside the rink was reinforced by the disco-club lighting, a “California-like” decor with plastic palm trees, outside a canopy gave it a Studio 54-look. The Empire became so popular that movies were filmed there and celebrities like Cher would stop by to take lessons from Butler. The photographs (mounted) measure approx. 16.75cm by 11.75cm and are housed in a handmade silver leather pouch with mirrored internals and glitter lettering to the cover. It is presumed that this is the only example ever made. A remarkable souvenir from the roller disco craze, capturing the scene and the stars at the worlds hippest skating venue.


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