Empire Skate: The Birthplace of Roller Disco

Central Library, Brooklyn Collection

City Reliquary Museum and Brooklyn Collection welcomes you to the world of the Empire Rollerdrome.

Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, Empire rose to fame as the birthplace of roller disco, a skating craze that swept across the nation. This exhibit tells the stories of the people who skated at Empire, weaving together national histories, such as the role of skating in the Civil Rights Movement, with personal narratives like that of the legendary Bill Butler, whose unique Jammin’ style set the stage for roller disco. Empire closed its floors in 2007, but its legacies continue to shape the lives and moves of roller skaters today.

This exhibit is curated by the City Reliquary Museum, a nonprofit museum of New York history based in Williamsburg. We are grateful to the Brooklyn Public Library for helping us share our civic mission and bring this exhibit to the neighborhood closest to where Empire once stood. Empire’s history belongs to its skaters, DJs, floor guards, managers, and everyone else who was part of its dynamic community, and we feel privileged to be part of telling these stories. If you would like to share any memories, questions, or feedback with us, please get in touch at info@cityreliquary.org.

Empire Skate: The Birthplace of Roller Disco




To return to the Exhibitions Index page, please click here.

Preview the Exhibit