This story was originally published in July 2016. It re-aired on Nov. 25, 2016 as part of The California Report Magazine's "Hidden Gems" series.
Daniel Albert climbs a dusty church tower, lifts his arms above his head and grabs hold of a rope that comes from a hole in the ceiling. As he pulls it, the church bell on the other end chimes and resonates across this central San Francisco neighborhood. It’s 7 o’clock on a Friday night.
Then the music begins. But instead of hearing hymns, I hear disco. That’s because I’m at the Church of 8 Wheels. It’s a roller disco in a 120-year-old former Catholic church, just blocks from San Francisco’s famous Painted Lady rowhouses at Alamo Square. Albert is the operations manager, but he doubles as a rollerblading sensation. If you’ve been to this church, on Fillmore at Fell, you’ll know him as the guy with metallic reflective wings.
In the expansive space, old pews are pushed against the walls and lights reflect off a disco ball and onto the ceiling murals. David G. Miles Jr., known as the “Godfather of Skate,” proselytizes. “I am your roller disco minister,” he says. “I mean, it’s the Church of 8 Wheels, and as the godfather it’s my responsibility to spread rolligion everywhere I go.”
That's right. Rolligion.