How Atomic Ballroom Pivoted to Outdoor Meetups During the Shutdown

When the pandemic shut down dancing at Atomic Ballroom, co-owner Nikki Marvin pivoted to outdoor meetups with Atomic Skate Exchange.
Photograph by Jessica Keener

What is Atomic Skate Exchange?
With the dance studio closure, my husband, Shesha, and I were finding ourselves spending a lot more time roller skating and just being outside with our kids. We’d share skating videos on social media, and we had a lot of students reaching out and asking where they could buy skates. With COVID, there was a skate shortage, so we wanted to find a way to get skates to the community. At Atomic, we have the main studio and then four small rooms for private lessons, and we ended up opening a little skate shop there in August. We offered people the chance to sell their old skates to us so we could refurbish them and pass them on. Then once we were able to get stock, people could buy new skates.

When are the meetups?*
We do it on Sundays from 2 p.m. until sunset. It’s on the huge blacktop in front of (Newport Elementary School) close to the ocean. We blast some music and usually between 20 and 50 people show up to skate. It’s a mix of all ages, genders, shapes and sizes, and all levels.

What has been your takeaway from all this?
It’s really hard to see our studio closed and see so many students lose what is basically their weekly activity or their exercise or social life, so to have this outlet for people to jump into something new is really great. It’s not something we ever thought we’d do, but it’s given us something to look forward to and be inspired by. It’s definitely been a huge silver lining for us.


*Note: As of February 20, meetups are now Saturdays at 2 p.m. in the parking lot of Atomic Skate Exchange and feature free roller skating classes.

17961 Sky Park Cir.
Suite H
Irvine, CA 92614

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