After moving to the Seabrook Roller Wheel, the group disbanded when the rink came under new anti-LGBT ownership. The feeling of losing something special lingered for 10-plus years among alumni of the group.
Last year, the alumni gathered together for a birthday party at Laurel Skating Center and the event prompted them to approach the rink manager and arrange an agreement to make it all happen again.
Monday Night Skating launched in March of 2016 and is led by Ward Morrison who originally began skating with the group in 1997.
“I set weird goals for myself and at one point I actually skated with them for 52 weeks in a row,” Morrison says. “I am a joyful person and skating brings that solid pure joy to a whole new level.”
The group meets on the last Monday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Laurel Skating Rink and has evolved well beyond the core alumni skaters. Themed nights have been created to reach out to all members of the LGBT community. Recent skates were tied to Black Pride, Trans Pride, the Latino community, a women’s night and a youth night.
“Our attendance has grown top to bottom and includes a really good mix of children, parents and all ages of the LGBTQ community,” Morrison says. “This is a place where people can be themselves and rediscover just having some no pressure fun.”
Morrison grew up as one of four boys in Falls Church, Va., playing baseball and soccer which continued in high school after his family moved to Texas. He stayed with intramural soccer at Virginia Tech along with several years of playing with the LGBT-based Federal Triangles Soccer Club.
His work at REI as well as in photography and massage therapy points to what he considers the triangle that defines his life; health & wellness, the creative process and the outdoors.
These days, Morrison thrives on kayaking, paddle boarding, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking and camping. In 2014, he won a silver medal at the Cleveland Gay Games as part of the D.C. sailing team. He says the most aerobically intense thing in his life is coming from the roller skating.
People who arrive at Monday Night Skating can expect a mix of ’70s and ’80s music along with playful new songs, disco and classic skate music. The night includes couples’ skates, conga line, limbo, raffles and games.
“I want Monday Night Skating to continue in perpetuity because it is a playful and fun activity where people can let loose,” Morrison says. “These kinds of playing fields, such as sports and parades, are the things that bring us together as a community. It makes us strong.”