Beginning in April 1987, Hot Wheels Skating Center in West Kendall was the place to be in Miami-Dade. Throughout the '90s, the skating center was packed daily with tweens and teenagers, and it helped launch acts such as Quad City DJs, Stevie B, and countless other performers. It was the place to be if you weren't old enough to get into a nightclub but still wanted to do some booty-shaking to the newest 2 Live Crew song.
The Hot Wheels fun, in its original form, lasted until about 1999, when Hurricane Irene damaged the building and led to a prolonged closure. The skating center eventually reopened under a different name but then closed again soon after. The moment had passed. Teenagers weren't roller-skating anymore, and the music scene had changed. The original Hot Wheels would never be seen again except in our memories.
That is, until now, thanks to a man who videotaped it.
Manny Cueva, a local
Cueva tells New Times that although he knew some people would get a kick out of it, he never expected the video to be viewed more than 150,000 times on Facebook.
"I've had the VHS-C tape put away for a good 20-plus years. It was always in the back of my mind that I should convert it to
Hot Wheels exists today by the name Super Wheels. The skating center is a throwback to much of what went on at the location in the early '90s, paying homage to the history and memories made there that so many people will never forget.
"Hot Wheels was a huge part of so many people's youth in Miami. Tens of thousands of Miamians will readily tell you that they grew up at Hot Wheels or use phrases like 'I practically lived there,'" Cueva says. "For so many reasons, people just wanted to be there. It felt good there. It felt like home."
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Cueva says what made Hot Wheels such a unique experience for so many kids growing up was the fact that it was one-of-a-kind. "Back in its heyday, nothing quite like Hot Wheels Skating Center had ever existed," he says.
"Nobody was putting the type of sound systems in a skating center that Hot Wheels had. Nobody was outfitting a skating center with massive intelligent lighting systems and a giant video screen that would rival any big-city nightclub. And nobody was bringing national acts to perform at a skating center on an almost-monthly basis for several years in a row. The list goes on and on. This place was unique in so many ways."
Even though Cueva, who spent many nights at Hot Wheels, knew the nostalgia many had for the skating rink, he's nonetheless shocked by the reaction people have had toward his Facebook video.
"I knew there was a certain amount of people who would always hold a special place in their heart for Hot Wheels, but I had no idea that my Facebook post would blow up the way it did," he says. "To say that I was completely blown away would be an understatement. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to receive Facebook notifications every five minutes for several days in a row, let me just tell you right now, you do not want to find out."