Revelry can turn up in the unlikeliest of places. The streets around the rundown Crystal Plaza may be quiet, but in a dark room inside the shopping center, flashing lights and booming bass assail the senses. People dance. They elbow each other. Strangely no fights break out. That is probably because most of the patrons here are under seventeen years old, and the venue is Super Wheels (12265 SW 112th St, Miami; 305-270-9386), a sort of club for underage gangster wannabes.
Aside from a few name changes, the roller rink has more or less remained the same since it opened twenty years ago. On a recent Saturday night, the place was buzzing with rowdy teens on a hormonal high, while bored parents munched on greasy goodies near the concession stand. In the ring, confident skaters with glow-in-the-dark wheels zoomed past wobbly Gumbies struggling to maintain balance. For the less coordinated, the ring became an obstacle course where they had to dodge the moving (and falling) bodies before being knocked over. Sure enough, one girl fell and injured her ankle, but the DJ kept the crowd moving by playing "Take It to da House" and "Peanut Butter Jelly Time." Booty dancing ensued, both on skates and off.
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Nearby, one heavily tattooed mom herded her children into the wing, while another mother with a blond Mohawk comb-over hesitated to make a Frogger-like entrance onto the skating highway. In the center of the ring, a circular area serves as a hangout and rest stop. Here kids congregated in cliques, and in true teen-movie fashion, formed dancing troupes to perform choreographed steps. For them, Super Wheels is like prep school for future club crunknkess -- except without the alcohol.