First Skating Rink

A grand opening with roller skaters dancing and a queen!

On July 22, 1871, the first roller skating rink in Hawaii featured Queen Emma and a skating show. Skaters danced a march, lancers, two quadrilles, and a Virginia reel. The skaters partnered up, held each other’s hands, and switched partners as they skated around the center to the music.

As Hawaii didn’t have frozen ice ponds, the new skating rink provided a new experience. There, skaters glided around the floor and saw spectators and skaters become a passing blur.

A few months before, The Pacific Commercial Advertiser reported the rink’s impending opening in Buffum’s Hall, a two-story building at Hotel Street in downtown Honolulu:

… Buffum’s Hall has been leased by an enterprising party … [to establish] a skating rink. … we approve of the enterprise, as providing a healthful source of amusement.

The Honolulu Skating Rink got more people interested in skating. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser encouraged people to skate there and said the skating floor was “like glass” and the skating was “so nice, and so easy.”

The skating rink appears already to have taken hold of popular favor. Since opening, the attendance has constantly increased and the interest in growing in this new amusement. Tonight, there will be music, and those who desire to enjoy, or themselves to cause a good laugh, will do well to go. The floor is like glass, and the skating is ‘so nice, and so easy, you know.’

The Honolulu Skating Rink also offered a quadrille skating class, a two-mile skating race, and a masquerade. The Honolulu Skating Rink opened five nights a week and charged twenty-five cents for admission, and The Hawaiian Gazette describes the people at the skating rink:

On the off-nights, the Skating Rink is open to the public, much to the delight of the young portion of the community, although many of the ‘children of larger growth’ attend as spectators and are highly entertained by witnessing the agility of the young skaters, none of whom have probably ever ‘been upon ice,’ but enjoy immensely, the next thing to it, and many of them exhibiting a gracefulness in their evolutions that cannot but remind those who are content to remain spectators, of similar scenes in early days.

The Honolulu Skating Rink operated until at least 1921.

– Alice Kim


“Skating Rink”
Pacific commercial advertiser, May 27, 1871, Image 3

“Notice to Skating Class”
The Hawaiian gazette, July 12, 1871, Image 3

“Skate and Dance at the Confetti Carnival”
Honolulu star-bulletin, April 10, 1915, Page 7

“Well Supplied”
Hawaiian gazette, September 13, 1871, Image 3


One Comment on “First Skating Rink”

  1. […] As Hawaii didn’t have frozen ice ponds to skate on, the new skating rink provided a clear, smooth, and wide skating surface and a rare experience. Read more… […]

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