For just two years, from 1979 to 1981, Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace was one of the hottest spots in Los Angeles. Prince, Cher, Robin Williams, Patrick Swayze, the Go-Go’s and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were among the bold-faced names to roller disco into the early hours. Founded by Ian “Flipper” Ross and located in the heart of WeHo at the corner of Santa Monica and La Cienega Boulevards, Flipper’s was Studio 54 on wheels. Inside, a mural of a showgirl with a giant banana headpiece standing in a field of strawberries was as well known as the neon signage on the outside.
Now Ross’ daughter, Liberty Ross, is spearheading a Flipper’s revival. First up is “Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace 1979-1981,” a 250-page book out on Oct. 15 and featuring never-before-seen photos as well as interviews with a now-retired Flipper (conducted by Liberty’s husband, Jimmy Iovine) and regulars like Laura Dern, who reminisces about going to the rink as a teen during its more family-friendly afternoon hours. “The beauty of roller skating is that you strap on the wheels and it’s a great equalizer,” Liberty Ross tells Variety. “No one cares where you’re from, if you’re rich, if you’re poor, if you’re white, if you’re brown, if you’re famous or not famous.”
Liberty will also release a line of Flipper’s merchandise, including sweatshirts and satin jackets. Her “ultimate dream” is to open a new Flipper’s.
In 1981, the rink was shut down by local authorities because Flipper never obtained the permits to operate the business. After announcing Halloween would be the last night, he and promoter Denny Cordell sat on a rooftop across the street to say goodbye. “They watched Flipper’s kind of explode,” Liberty says. “Everyone was running out with skates and T-shirts, but everyone was also dressed up as ghouls and ghosts and werewolves.” Check out Flippers on Instagram at @flippers.world.
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