San Francisco's Roller Disco Inside an Abandoned Church

Photo of Courtney Holcomb
10 January 2019

If you’re looking for a unique San Francisco experience, then you must check out the Church of 8 Wheels – a disco roller rink established in a former church. Visit the church for a ‘rolligious experience,’ in which you can dance and skate the night away in festive costumes accompanied by vibrant neon lights and the sounds of classic disco and old-school funk.

The Church of 8 Wheels is located in what once was the Sacred Heart Church at the intersection of Fillmore and Fell Streets in the Lower Haight district. The rink was founded by David Miles, Jr., who has gained a reputation in San Francisco as ‘the Godfather of skate.’ Miles has spent the past 36 years dedicating his life to everything related to skating, including spending every Sunday skating with a group of skaters in Golden Gate Park.

‘When you come to this one little niche in this city — and it’s a great city with a lot of little niches in it — but this one right here taps into the very core of what San Francisco is,’ Miles tells SF Chronicle. ‘It’s all inclusive, it’s all fun, it’s everyone, it’s everybody. If you look at a rainbow, it’s here.’

While the rink is closed Sunday through Thursday, you can visit when it lights up on Fridays and Saturdays. Friday nights are celebrated as the Godfather’s Friday Night Roller Disco. The rink is open 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., and no one under 18 is admitted. Saturdays are themed Black Rock Roller Disco from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. with no admission under 21. Entrance on these nights is $10, with skate rentals of all sizes available for $5. For a more family-friendly experience, bring your children to the rink on a Saturday afternoon for an afternoon family session. The church is open from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., with adult admission for $10 and $5 admission for children aged 12 and under. If you’d rather spend your rolling time with an exclusive group of friends, the rink is available to rent out for private parties and special events.

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If you’re worried that your skate skills aren’t good enough to show off, or if you have no skate skills to speak of at all, never fear; the Church of 8 Wheels offers roller skating lessons every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Admission for adults is $20 and admission for children is $10, with skates and safety gear available for $10. Lessons must be arranged in advance, so plan ahead. Courses are 60 minutes long, in which students learn about the different types of skates and safety equipment, as well as proper skating form, balance, stopping, turning and skating down a hill. Private lessons are available, too.

For an additional chance to get your skate on, bring your own skates and join Miles and the rest of the Holy Rollers during their weekly skate date in Golden Gate Park. The group meets on Sundays at 6th Avenue and Kennedy Drive. To learn more about the Church of 8 Wheels, watch the short documentary below.

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