After dark, along the endless industrial stretch of San Fernando Road in Glendale, pretty much all you’ll hear is traffic.
But on Tuesday nights, there’s another sound.
“The Hammond organ is very strong. It fills the rink and you can hear it out into the parking lot. Makes people curious,” says Dominic Cangelosi or, as he is known professionally, the Fabulous Dominic.
At 86, he is the last roller-skating rink organist in California.
When he first sat down behind a rink organ, the world was a different place. It was the early 1950s, and roller rink skating was in full bloom in a postwar country looking for light recreation. To quote a period promo film made by the Roller Skating Foundation of America, “This is roller-skating, America’s favorite fun sport. A wholesome, year-round recreation. One of our truly great, All-American participant sports.”
That’s right around the time the Moonlight Rollerway opened its doors, and that’s also when Cangelosi started his musical career, at the original Moonlight location in nearby Pasadena.
“At that time in the ‘50s, there was nothing but live organ music in most roller-skating rinks around the country,” he says.