When It's Time For A...

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Stop 1: Sunset Cocktails @ Onyx Rooftop Bar

Tourists dangerously rattle their Birds through Santa Monica’s picturesque Ocean Ave traffic as you step out to the front entrance of The Shangri-La Hotel. A gorgeous reminder of art deco days from long ago you open the front doors to see a welcoming elevator porter ask if you’re heading to the roof. “Of course” is your obvious answer as you step into the golden vertical chariot. The doors open to the sound of classic music and an uproar of pre-sunset cheer. Your first sight is the glowing bar and a lounge fit for something out of Prince’s house in MN. Scouring the cocktail menu you’re not surprised by the sticker shock but glad they’re delivering on the goods. For sheer entertainment value you decide on a Starman, a Moscow Mule-esque mixture with nitrogen ice. As you step onto the outside deck you take your first sip, almost as refreshing as the ocean mist kissing your cheeks. Maneuvering your way to a cozy seat in the “tree” room or parking it besides the fire pit you cant help but strike up a conversation with those around you. Friendly folks from out of town or locals showing their friends around the vibe is as mellow as is the huge of sunlight beaming against the reflective windows. As darkness descends on Santa Monica’s burgeoning night scene you decide it is time to descend to a cavernous bar for bites and beautiful drinks.

Stop 2: Bar Bites & Perfectly Made Concoctions @ The Misfit

The newly darkened air surrounding Santa Monica’s downtown buzzes with excitement. Within the promenade melee are couples scurrying to their dinner reservations, tourist families looking for their post beach hotel rooms and single bros looking for their midnight kiss. Laughing at the scene you duck into the classic confines of The Misfit just in time to beat the party rush. Settling at the bar you’re welcomed by the manly, yet attentive, mixologists prepared to make your cocktailing dreams come true. A dash of tinctures, a long pour of spirits and more than a few aggressive shakes and you’re sitting pretty with a Goodnight Emilee or a fan favorite Jumping Jack Flash. The high ceiling matches the level of the vibrant atmosphere surrounding your small space at the busy bar. Eventually you order some elevated bar bites like the melt in your mouth nik niks or incredibly savory jidori chicken skewers. With several cocktails going down as easy as the conversation with your “private” bartender the night melds into the later hours without you even noticing. As the clock strikes 11pm it will mark your time to head to a more vibrant location. 

Stop 3: Thunderbulge! @ Westside Comedy Theater

“Are we going the right way?” your friends unanimously agree that you couldn’t possibly be going to your next stop. The dark alleyway you’re walking down welcomes all sorts of nefarious beings lurking around every corner but most importantly it’s home of your next stop the Westside Comedy Theater. After grabbing your ticket from the window you pass through the door into a one-room laugh factory that will transform in the next hour. Your first stop is the bar to grab a tall can of Mexican lager or a glass of house wine. Within moments the battle for reserving the perfect seat begins, luckily your friend jumped ahead and reserved a few in the front row. You’ll reluctantly thank him later. With your beer in hand you take your seat just as the lights dim. The  “Thunderbulge” intro begins as a TV explains a “boner storm” is coming with a harmonious uproar from the crowd. Not 5 minutes later are you confronted with half naked men dancing in unison inviting dollar bills and candy to be thrown on stage. The next few hours is a free for all of improv genius, naughty audience games, whip cream peer pressure and ultimately the questioning of your own sexuality. As the show comes to a close you are exhausted with happiness and proud you made it through. The shirtless men ask you on stage to take photos as the crowd cheers the awkward few to take a chance. After a sweaty hug and laughs from your friends you exit onto the quiet alleyway to confront your friends and your own life. What just happened?

Sip on Vino and Soak Up A Vista in a Golden Era Adventure

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Stop 1: Wine Toast @ Bar Covell

The early evenings sun glistens against the ivy covered brick building of Bar Covell to illuminate a “not so LA” typical hangout. Once you pass through the door it’s not so typical innards expose a relaxed yet fun wine scene. After scouring the old school décor, an eclectic mix of Americana and Europeean charm, you slowly address the bar. With only a few wines written on their short menu you’re not sure what to order until you’re asked politely what you’re feeling that like. The knowledgeable wine master conjures up tastings to tantilize your senses in order to gain the ultimate approval from your pleasure centers. After a few samples you select a glass for the stop and decide to take your place outside.  Slowly you enjoy your Cote du Rhone and Nebbiolo while watching the traffic pass by between conversation about the past, present, and future. As the wine glasses slowly dwindle to empty and the sun begins to inevitably set you square up the bill after scoring a bottle to go. You’ve got a hidden patio to attend to.

Stop 2: Hidden Patio Wood Fired Pizza @ The Sit Down

The Hollywood Blvd. traffic whizzes by empty tables outside The Sit Down. Questioning whether to head inside you open the door to fan fare and a flaming pizza oven turning the room an orange glow. Once waved back down the hallway you make several turns before exiting onto the back patio, which feels more like a set from an Audrey Hepburn film than anything. Take your seats at a picnic bench and relax in the cool air like a European. Before you even ask a bottle opener is being brought for your bottle to be pleasantly corked by your waitress. With glass of wine in hand you delve into the menu but can’t shake the memory of the wood fired pizza oven. Order an Il Diavlo or Fig Prosciutto pie with confidence as the string bulbs begin to illuminate the post sunset haze. Within minutes your smoking hot pizzas arrive with a resonating gasp. Glasses of wine are poured amid arms reaching over each other to sneak a slice. As soon as it began the bubbling pizzas are devoured and the bottles of wine have their last drops poured.

Stop 3: Catch a Flick at a Legend @ The Vista

The rapidly changing intersection of Hollywood, Sunset and Virgil adorns construction fences and darkened buildings ready for rehab. In the midst of this gentrifying metamorphosis is a shining beacon of Hollywood’s past that’s outlasted most migrations of the city, The Vista Theater. Multi colored exposed bulbs spell out the namesake in a classic fashion not seen in modern America. As you pleasantly make your way under the vintage piece you notice the ground is a collection of hand prints of Hollywood’s past. A welcome homage to the famed Chinese Theater not 8 blocks West. Try your size at Swingers greats Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau or Elvira, yes that Elvira. After paying at the hieroglyphic laden booth you appreciatively step inside the hallowed hall. At first you’re surprised by the commitment to the Egyptian theme but then you see the popcorn prices! With bucket in hand take the short walk into the darkened theater before plopping down into your well worn creaky seat. As the light turn lower and the preparatory intro from 1975 hits the screen you’ll relax and soak in the history that’s been surrounding you.

The Mammoths Never Saw This Coming

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Stop 1: Where the Oil Came From @ The La Brea Tar Pits

Kids scurry past their families while couples mimic “My Girl 2” along the Museum Mile stretch of Wilshire Blvd. Your attention is hard pressed to not focus on the excitement of the park but you’ve come here to soak up the black stuff. As you walk towards the famed lake of darkness you take in your first whiff of methane. Mmmm. Both startled and surprised this ancient scene is so close to the modern day hustle and bustle you start reading the posted signs while taking instaworthy selfies. Your curiosity bubbles as you wander from pit to pit eventually discovering the curious bright green cones on the lawn. Placed above mini spouts they seem hardly like a deterrent as you somehow get tar on your hands. Eventually landing at the dig site of Pit 91 you catch a few workers meticulous sweeping up bits of rock and dirt while also having their way with the tar. After you’ve learned your way through the oil history of LA head to a more futuristic to kick your feet up.

Stop 2: Fuel for Your Mind @ Ray’s and Stark Bar

The afternoon museum crowd hustles from exhibits to photo ops in the center of the LACMA quad. You pass the urge to join the lemmings and pop in to the patio of Ray’s and Stark Bar. Minimalistic vibes and mod furniture make for a stylish afternoons respite from the museum bustle. The perfect companion to your shaded perch may be a gin and tonic or a minted frosè cocktail. Regardless of your route the destination becomes all the same as you happily sip your afternoon away. When you’ve built up your energy for the next round of historic habitats it’ll be time to live life in the fast lane.

Stop 3: How the Oil is Used @ Petersen Auto Museum

The red and silver flowing lined building of the Petersen Automotive Museum towers over the Wilshire and Fairfax intersection like an iron giant. Easily passed on your morning commute you’re all too eager to walk inside once you’re in first gear. Instantly you find yourself reveling in the beauty of the fantastical and functional vehicles in the lobby. Once you pay the pauper and receive your “P” sticker you’re given the green light to race around the 3 floors of automotive history. Starting at the top you slowly wander the floors discovering everything from hundreds years old historical wagons to ridiculous rides literally built for princes. Imagining yourself cruising the streets in a low rider or race car it’s easy to get lost in the fantasy of the real world whips. When you think you’ve seen it all you finally land on the first floor, and the grand finally doesn’t let down. A litany of vehicles from Hollywood’s hottest films you relive the moments you remember this time up close and personal. From Mad Max to Clockwork Orange and Batman you’re dazzled with the incredible imaginations inches from your hands. Exhausted without the exhaust you’re ready for fuel good thing there’s a filling station across the lobby.

Stop 4: Fuel for your Body @ Drago Ristorante

You cross the finish line into Drago Ristorante with a welcoming reception. Passing by the beauty of a pizza oven and gorgeous dining room you happily exit into the hidden patio. The iron ribboned exterior acts as your umbrella while you settle into the simple yet pleasantly open setting. The friendly waiter pleasantly discusses the handmade pastas and selections on the menu while you order a round of wine. Discussing your favorite car from the bunch you soak into the surroundings while an orchestra of classic tunes and the hum of traffic make the moment. When your food arrives you’re pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of the presentation but blown away by the taste. Boar sauce ravioli or spinach risotto with seared scallops either way you take bites from each other’s plates with no remorse. Eventually you’re licking your plate clean and downing your last drop of wine as the sun’s bending beams glide over the flowing building above. With the oil below you and the iron behind you step onto Wilshire Blvd witnessing LA traffic in a whole different light.

Discover the Unlikely Spots of the West End of Pico

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Stop 1: Stiff Drinks @ The Speak Easy

The final strange stretch of Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica stick out like a sore thumb among the beautiful beach towns new facade. “I hope this falls on the dark dive bar end of the spectrum.” your buddy says as you cautiously walk up to the Prohibition style mural gracing the outside of your first stop, Speak Easy Cocktail. Once you step foot inside a verbal “oh yeah” comes from that same friend. An older pool table to the right has been befriended by middle aged couples while a few old friends share classic rock deep cuts on the far end of the bar. A few hipsters sip Coors banquet along side an old crooner watching his favorite driver in the Nascar highlights. The hodgepodge of human is the perfect back drop  for your nights first few drinks with your friends. A few beers, a few wines and a round of tequila shots somehow make it to your pleather booth as you take turns rushing to the juke box to anti up on the next minutes mood. The exponentially booming conversation becomes increasingly more fun in the moment. Eventually you’ve made friends with the Scottish bar maden Ruth and are chatting up the karaoke KJ between sips of your latest cocktail. When you all have a turn paying the pauper for a round and the music’s been overtaken by a new group to the bar, it’ll be the time to soak up that alcohol with a little grease.

Stop 2: NY Slices @ Milo SRO

The night’s ocean haze masks the older worn down apartments and single level motels of this corridor as you walk along the gentrifying row. Once you land at the bottom of the hill a shining beacon of pizza proportions screams out to enter Milo SRO. Instantly you’re transported into a haven for hipster cheese fans as you scour the counters delicious options. Tangy BBQ, meat lovers, Sicilian and the very curious fancy white pizzas all catch your eye as you rock to the hip hop vibes and soak into the colorful décor. Picking out your favorite 2 option you score a spot at the counter and realize the SRO in the name truly means, standing room only. After a few minutes your freshly crisped slices are met vocal “mmm” and “yummm”s while you decide if you’re going to opt for a gluten free tiramisu dessert.

Stop 3: Live Tunes @ Tr!p Santa Monica

The windowed façade of Tr!p Santa Monica only catches your eye because it doesn’t match much of your typical beach town vibes. As you pass into the single room beer bar the mellow situation makes you feel like that time in college when you dated a guy in a band and you would hang at his practices. Groups of friends and couples sip wine and beer while chilling out to the band of the evening. Classic covers and sound mishaps are all part of the game as you sip on a local IPA and hang by the pool table. Within no time the vibe of the joint turns into an upbeat party as people cocktails meld with their personalities. Hit the dance floor and play a game of pool between sets of songs you somewhat of remember. Rock out and grab a few rounds while making new friends in the music dive. In no time you’ll feel part of the random scene you’ve driven past for years.

Walk The Path of Rock Icons before Dining Like Rockstars

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Stop 1: Sunset Wine Toast @ Obica Mozzarella Bar e Cucina

Sunset Blvd’s buzzy pre-evening vibe swarms the sidewalk cafés and open air drinking joints as you head to your first location. The classic Sunset Plaza isn’t only great for it’s ease of parking but also housing the easy to choose drinking joint Obica Mozzerella Bar e Cucina. Coasting through the sidewalk tables and dimly lit bar you post up on the back patio counter over looking West Hollywood and a litany of Maseratis, Mercedes, and motorcycles in the back lot. You keep your eye on the sunset view prize as you order a red wine to cheers the night ahead. The sun dwindles beyond the buildings below while you sip your juice and chat about the work week. Eventually the sun extinguishes the city view and the city lights illuminate the lot below. This will mark your exit to a venue where lights and cameras are no stranger.

Stop 2: Greatest Moments in Rock History @ The Morrison Hotel Gallery

Not a handful of steps down the dark sidewalk of Alta Loma Road do you feel a hundred miles away from the Sunset Strip madness. Hidden under overgrown palms with minimal lights is the rockstar hangout of the Sunset Marquis. Once inside the belly of the beast you turn a quick right into The Morrison Hotel Gallery. Within the first second your mouth is a gap at the surreal moments caught in time strewn about the wall. From Sinatra to Mama Cass you circle the small space with excitement. Connecting with the curator you discuss the favorites and secrets hidden in the images. Next thing you know you’re invited to look through the collection hidden within the cabinets behind the desk. The Beatles first colored photos, maybe a rare David Bowie moment but what is very real is the feeling of seeing something not normally viewed by passers by.  Take in the moment and swear you’ll purchase a print before you die. Then head out to feel like Mick Jagger strolling the strip after a show.

Stop 3: Dine Like a Rockstar @ Tesse

The excitement becomes palpable as you step into the modern French experience of Tesse. Friends share cocktails at the bar while couples sample the nights intricate dishes and groups celebrate with clinks of wine glasses. You take a seat and can’t help but be mystified with the dishes passing your eyesight. In no time you’re brought up to speed with the nature of the wine and food pairing that has been so delicately prepared. Taking in the suggestion from your food guide you pick out the caviar toast, bucatini with bone marrow and the Faroe Island salmon, all to be combined with half pours of wine. Within minutes the excitement begins. Dishes and wine are poured and placed in perfect succession much like the fluid churning of a Broadway play. Salty caviar crisps balance perfectly with a celebratory prosseco. Next the bucatini is mixed in front of you as you sip a barbera d’asti. When you finish the plate you’re invited to take down a bone luge, an indulgent opportunity not to be missed. Finally the salmon’s display arrives as an art of its own along with the chenin blanc that goes down too easy. It’s difficult to bring the experience to an end but there always is a chance for dessert, you and your stomach can decide.

What you get when you combine cheeseboards, graveyards, and cult classics

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Stop 1: Cheeseboard Fixings @ Larchmont Wine, Spirits, and Cheese

Young families push strollers while older couples share ice creams along the quaint quasi-midwestern strip of Larchmont Village. A few block area where window shopping is a religion you happily break through the crowd into the local legend and namesake Larchmont Wine, Spirits, and Cheese. Circling to the right as you enter you’re happily greeted by the folks working there and get an understanding of the local vibe. Perusing the wine selection you are eventually told how strict they are when it comes to making their valued selections. An exciting Chote du Rhône with an authentic labeling or a natural orange wine from the Pac Northwest would be a perfect lubricant for the Cheeseboard extravaganza you’re preparing. Circling round the back of the store you’re greeted by the somewhat endless portions of prosciuttos and goat cheese delights. A few meats, a few cheeses, some olives or two are the easiest ways to make your evening move from a simple sampling to an experts charcuterie. As you make you’re way the the register you spot an obscure bag of veggie chips and a can of sparkling Italian soda. The cherries on top for your classy picnic. Once you settle up step back onto the Larchmont family wagon and set your eyes on some sweets.

Stop 2: GF, Vegan, Treats to Go @ Erin McKenna’s Bakery

The blue door swings open to a waft of scented bakery pleasure in the snug old school feel of Erin McKennas Bakery. You lick your lips as you eye up the cinnamon rolls, donuts, and cookies but are blown away when you realize they’re all gluten free, vegan, and low glycemic. Just as you’re deciding on a half dozen to go you catch them working on a custom cake in the back. True to themselves these cakes fit their healthy mold and look incredible. As the cake artist works their magic you stare in awe and jealousy of the 35th bday party that darling of a cake is going to. Re-focusing on your agenda you each choose a few of what you think are your favorites. Blueberry donut, crumble pie, or maybe a slice of banana nut bread. With the delightfully small but flavor packed package in hand you jump out to the Larchmont excitement again. This time it’s to your car for a ride to your evenings glorious finale.

Stop 3: Put it All Together @ Cinespia

Turning on to Santa Monica Blvd. the Cinespia energy is already palpable. Couples dragging their beach chairs, friends lugging pizzas on top of their old coolers and parking lot attendants screaming for your attention. Don’t mind the distractions cause you’re driving right in. As you pass the entrance and get the thumbs up from security it’s the age old race that no one wins to get the best parking spot. With crew in hand you unload your bounty of wine, cheeseboard fixings, desserts and any other supplies needed for a successful graveyard movie night. Once amid the masses on the Fairbanks lawn it’s a free for all to claim your 10 square feet of viewing pleasure. Some enjoy near the right road, others prefer a middle view, regardless you find exactly where you need to be and stake your claim with a toss of your blanket. Within moments your shoes are kicked off and the wine is happily being poured. If you’re a master of the cheeseboard you’ll have your feta and prosciutto looking delicious in no time. The sun slowly fades as your buzz falls into another category. Just when you get into the groove of lounging around the sound kicks in and reminds you why you’re there…you’ve got a classic to watch.

When You're Feelin Like Having That 1954 Style Night...

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Stop 1: Friday Flights @ Colorado Wine Company

The work weeks final sunset explodes behind the DTLA monoliths off in the distance. Happily away from bumper to bumper traffic, angry pedestrians, and the grind you easily find a parking space on the west end of Eagle Rock. Immediately after entering the dimly lit and cozy insides of Colorado Wine Company your memory is erased and a new era begins. A handful of candles and few light bulbs illuminate your way to the bar focusing their glare on the few seats available in front of Banah, your tasting guru for the night. Classic tunes, curated by your pour master, play overhead at the perfect level for a wine joint. It’s Friday so a flight is obviously in order. From white to red, dry to wet and locally grown to strangely grown you’re dazzled and educated on the tastes of the week. As you sip your way through the varietals the room’s conversations meld together in a pleasant opening opus to your night. When that last empty glass hits the table, you bid farewell to your vino host, maybe a new friend or two then slide out to the calm Los Angeles night.

Stop 2: Handmade Pastas (and more) @ Blair’s Restaurant

A non-gaudy façade and brightly lit signage of the country of Italy are the only indicators you’ve arrived at your next stop, Blair’s Restaurant. Once you pass through the door the feeling is more of an art gallery than an Italian restaurant. Red brick walls juxtapose the flood of white washed space amid exposed wooden beams and wicker orbs floating above the tables. The staff nonchalantly brings you to your table as you soak in the vibes which immediately makes you feel like you’re part of the crowd. Your waiter dives into the menu detailing it’s tasty handmade pastas and housemade cheeses, an education that makes it that much harder to choose your dish from the short list. You want it all but you eventually land on the bruschetta with burrata and tonnarelli puttanesca. Sipping your wine in the expansive minimalist room your little space of light becomes a big display of taste as the bruschetta and pasta arrives. The hand made long strips of tonnarelli are easily slurped up between tricky bites of the smooth burrata and heirloom tomatoes. A verbal “mmm” or a low key “oo that’s good” may slip from your mouth as you tackle your plate. Admiring the bowls you ask the waiter where they come from. In an artistic twist the owner is a master potter, making all the dishes you’ve seen since you opened the door. Then it dawns on you, from the bruschetta to the basket lights you didn’t step into a restaurant but an artistic space serving spot on Italian dishes with a balanced neighborhood vibe where the customer is the canvas. In a pleasant turn of events you duck out of the restaurant ready for some smooth sounding action.

Stop 3: Dessert Trays and Jazz Keys @ Colombo’s Italian Steakhouse

Walking up to the windowless red brick lined restaurant, you’re struck with the amount of silence adorning the street. As the door slowly creaks open the loud chatter, laughter and clinking of good times quickly echoes out into the suburban abyss. Stepping inside you become part of the melee between hipsters sipping Old Fashioneds living their best lives and old folks shaking out their martinis re-living their past lives. Moving to the bar seems tempting but you make the crucial decision to grab the table directly in front of the band. Once settled in between divorces and online daters you request the dessert tray. In classic fashion the chilled silver platter arrives with visual options ranging from classic staples like tiramisu and old world spumoni to not as classic raspberry tarts and chocolate strawberry stars. As the waiter preps your dessert the band preps their instruments for the smooth sailing tunes about to rock the room. When your desserts arrive the band strikes up their first cord setting the place a buzz like 1954. Morsels of cake and drippings of chocolate are shared between slow guitar ditties and upbeat keyboard solos. When you’ve licked the last sweetness of dessert away its time to turn your attention to the bar for a martini to stir along to the beat. You slowly get buzzed while making friends with the tables around you. A situation less seen in LA let alone this millennium. As the songs continue while you empty your mini shaker it’s either time to call it a night or double down like Dean Martin.

Life's Truly Better in Rollerskates

Stop 1: Cocktails at The San Fernando

A northbound train screams behind you as you walk down the industrial road on the East end of Glendale. A local paint shop’s faded sign and a strip clubs buzzing neon lights glow in the distance. In front of you is a new kid to the block, your first stop: The San Fernando. Upon entering you notice the local neighborhood joint is a perfect mash up of friendly vibes, dive bar aesthetics, and a charm that resembles a 1920s train station. The bartender pleasantly waves you to seats close to him and introduces himself with gusto. You may think this is a beer joint but they’re known for mixing up them spirits. Request an old fashioned and a spicey mezcal foamed concoction and watch as the mixologist goes to work in his unpretentious t-shirt and jeans. When the drinks arrive your first sip conjures up visions of a rooftop club in DTLA but you’re pleasantly 25 yards from the tracks a few miles south of Burbank. The other bar goers keep to themselves as you laugh with the bartender and chat about the days headaches. After your first drink slides down your gullet faster than you anticipated you realize there’s no time for another…you’ve got a dinner to catch.

Stop 2: Beer and Bites at The Golden Road Brewery

Jetting across the track you’re groups mystery walk turns into questions of if they’re in the right place. Trucking companies and dimly lit warehouses adorn the dark street before you’re graced with the presence of your next stop, the massive Golden Road Brewery. Beaming lights and happy beer drinkers welcome you as you round the hedges into the front entrance. A Disneyland for craft beer drinkers, outdoor games and wide open spaces are covered with happy bearded men and cheersing ladies. Taking your seat you quickly notice the menu isn’t full of standard bar food but an eclectic sampling of both vegan and non-vegan dishes. You opt for some avocado tacos and mango cart mussels along with two pints of beer. It’s an easy place to get lost into conversation while food and drinks easily go down. When you’ve finished a beer, or two and licked the plates clean continue round the tracks for a rink of historic proportions.

Stop 3: Skate it Up at Moonlight Rollerway

The classic building is impossible to miss as you walk up to Moonlight Rollerway. Colorful lights, neon signs, and a crowd that’s feeling the vibe make the scene more special than it already is. After you pay at the window you’re buzzed into roller paradise. Upon scanning the scene you’re transported to the mid 70’s full of bell bottoms, fringe jackets, much too tight clothes and sparkling everything. when you’re sucked back into “reality” you jet to the rental booth for your key to the action. Amidst Insta husbands hooking their gals up with solid gold and fearful first timers scrambling to hold onto anything you find a locker before securing your 4 wheels of freedom. It may have been 10 years or 10 days before your last rink time but it always is exciting getting your first rip around the rink. Said bellbottoms, fringe jackets and tight shirts storm past you in a blaze of roller disco glory. Couples hold hands while friends skate between legs, you make new friends while old ones disappear in the madness. Alone on your two feet you happily move, shake and spin without a worry in the world, just then you spot your crew, time for a group ride…