Back in 2006, Neil Schuldenfrei saw an ad on Craigslist promoting an open skate for lesbians and gays at a local ice skating rink. He and a friend arrived at the rink only to find there was no representation from the LGBT community. Instead of letting this incident go by, Schuldenfrei decided to create his own gay ice skating group, the D.C. Ice Breakers.
The Ice Breakers skate twice a month during the adults-only hour on Wednesday nights at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex atop the Ballston Common Mall in Arlington. The skate runs from 8:15 to 9:15 PM and the cost is $8 plus $3 for skate rental. After the skate, members head to Bailey’s Pub (in the mall) for socializing.
The Kettler Capitals Iceplex is truly a sight to behold. In addition to the 20,000 square foot training center for the Washington Capitals, the Iceplex features two indoor NHL-sized ice rinks, locker rooms, a full-service ProShop, a Capitals Team Store, a snack bar and space for special events. On the night I went to skate, I had as much fun exploring the facility as I did skating.
The Ice Breakers came up with the idea of co-hosting skating nights with other LGBT sports teams as well as LGBT networking and social groups. I skated with the Federal Triangles Soccer Club and found the whole experience to be a throwback to my youth at ice rinks and roller rinks.
There is fun music blasting, they change direction on the rink halfway through the hour, and at some point all the lights go out and there are strobe lights bouncing off disco balls.
Another thing that stood out to me was the different skill levels present on the ice. The group skates during the public skate so there can be as many as 100 people on the ice. There were people clinging to the walls, people stumbling over the ice and also people gliding over the ice. In the center of the rink, you can watch the advanced skaters practicing their spins and jumps.
“If you happen to fall down, there is always someone good-looking who will pick you up,” Schuldenfrei says.
Along with the skating, the Ice Breakers have begun to add other types of events to their calendar. This past year they have hosted party game nights, lazy river tubing, high-speed boat cruises and winery tours. Every quarter they offer up one of their “Mega Skate” or “Mega Game” nights. These events are co-hosted by up to 10 LGBT groups and after the skate, they converge at Bailey’s Pub for board games, free use of the pool tables and drink specials.
Schuldenfrei, who was recently honored by Team D.C. as an LGBT trailblazer, says the recent “Mega” events have drawn up to 350 people with an equal division of men and women.
If you are interested in co-hosting an event with the D.C. Ice Breakers or want more information on the skates, go here.