By ANGIE FENTON
It started with a date.
He let me plan the evening and I chose Fourth Street Live as the location, though I normally stay far away from the downtown locale, which has a reputation for catering to conventions, out-of-towners and a late-night party crowd. Weâ€™d have dinner there at one of the various restaurants and then, the highlight of our night, would be spent on the ice skating rink installed just before Light Up Louisville, smack in the middle of Fourth Street.
The overall date was fantastic (but thatâ€™s fodder for a different kind of story), but what was most enjoyable is how we both kind of let loose once on the â€œice,â€ a synthetic plastic coated with a silicone spray that emulates the feeling of the crystalline solid.
As a Michigan native who has skated on numerous frozen lakes and ponds, it took me a few moments to get used to the surface. But my date, who hadnâ€™t skated in 15 years and had only done so a couple of times before, laced up his rentals and stepped out onto the slippery grounds without trepidation.
For more than an hour we laughed, we talked and we learned something: Ice skating is an art, but itâ€™s also an amazing way to interact with others because itâ€™s hard to keep your guard up when your fear of taking a literal tumble supersedes your worry about making a dating misstep.
The activity also turned two people who work more often than not into silly kids who forgot, at least for a moment, about errands, deadlines and responsibilities. It was pure bliss.
So I went back the next day â€“ solo.
And the next day, too.
On the third day, I invited The Voice-Tribune production team to go with me during lunch, eager to get their reviews. What I didnâ€™t expect was that the greatest reactions would come from passersby on the downtown street.
As we skated and fumbled our way around the ice (some of us more than others), people stopped to watch, laugh and ask questions. Who were we? (Voice-Tribune staffers). What were we doing? (Um, skating.) Why? (Because we wanted to see what it felt like). What does it feel like? (Amazing and so fun.) Will you be back again soon? (Oh yes!)
When we returned to skate during lunchtime on a Thursday, we wore tutus for no other reason than because someone suggested it as a joke and we decided why not, before we allowed ourselves to reconsider. People stopped us to ask questions and reach through the railing to touch the â€œice.â€ A few jumped on with us to give it a spin ($5/hour plus $2/rental fee). Others took brochures from the attendants, promising theyâ€™d be back with their children and significant others during the non-work hours.
The following day, we hit the ice at noon, this time dressed as superheroes and skated in front of hundreds of people over the lunch hour. Yes, it was ridiculous and silly â€“ but it was so much more. For sixty minutes, we convinced a few of the onlookers to turn off work mode and try out the ice. We made people laugh and laughed at ourselves. I mean, who is going to notice if you arenâ€™t exactly a stellar skater when youâ€™re gliding past Supergirl and The Flash, who keep falling on their hineys?
Over those hours on the â€œice,â€ we forgot about errands, deadlines and responsibilities. We burned a few calories and used muscles we forgot we had. And when we went back to work, we were refreshed and ready to get back to business. We were also eager to plan our next group lunchtime skate.
Friday around noon. Tutus optional.
Contact writer Angie Fenton at email@example.com or @angiefenton on Twitter.Â
Fourth Street Live! Ice Skating Rink
The rink is open through Dec. 28. You can skate 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. The cost is $5 an hour for adults, $3 an hour for children under 18. Day passes are available for $10 per person or you can buy a season pass for $40. Skate rental is available for $2.
40 Nights of Lights
The cityâ€™s annual holiday celebration is now a four-block festival of lights set to music between the Galt House Hotel and Fourth Street Live! â€“ and includes the ice skating rink. The nightly light show synchronized to music starts at 6 p.m. Enjoy free musical performances on Saturdays in December starting at 5:30 p.m. at Fourth Street.