Drink Till You Hit the Floor at Belvedere's roller-skating nights | On The Rocks | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Drink Till You Hit the Floor at Belvedere's roller-skating nights

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Roller skating is a lot like riding a bike: Once you learn how to do it, you never forget ... unless you're chugging 16-ounce cans of beer.

"I think it just levels the playing field," says Earl Cavenaugh, as he waits in the foyer of Belvedere's in Lawrenceville, dressed in what he calls "Boogie Nights meets Pittsburgh." The bar's back room looks like a vintage basement gone underground, with wood paneling, dim lighting and craggy armchairs lining the walls. Skaters sweep around the room in packs -- a blur of windbreakers and short shorts, fake Afros and leopard-print spandex. 

On the last Saturday of every month, Belvedere's hosts "Down and Derby"-- a '70s and '80s throwback soiree that encourages campy costumes, fake moustaches and "roller disco jam skating" in the bar's back room. For $6, and a signed waiver (check out downandderby.org), you can quaff your favorite libations and sweat out the toxins while a live DJ mixes disco/dance tunes. 

Drinks, of course, cost money, too, and if you don't have your own skates, you can rent a pair for $3.

"We're really trying to recreate our generation's fourth-grade birthday party," says organizer Vince Massi.

The first D&D event took place in 2006, at a "raw space" in what is now several CAPA classrooms; it's been held at Belvedere's for nearly two years now. Massi also helps run monthly skate parties in Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Though all skaters are welcome, Massi encourages strange attire, establishing a costume theme for each event. One party, for example, called for "go-go boots and polyester suits, headbands, wristbands & a gold lame jumpsuit." 

Skaters have showed up as everything from Tony the Tiger to the hellish industrial villains of Mad Max, Massi says.

As they lap the room, some in skate trains, a security guard prowls, with towel in one hand and a flashlight in the other. He's looking for spills, which he says happen about every 10 minutes.

"It's a pain in the ass to go around and clean all this up," he acknowledges, "but it's still fun."  

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