Since the age of 7, Skip Clinton has been hypnotized by the whirl of roller skates; among his fondest memories are those of boogying on wheels among hundreds of fellow skaters packed into one rink. Translating his love of the sport into a competitive drive, Skip won the 1986 Roller Figure Skating World Championship in Bogotà, Colombia, cementing his spot in the Roller Skating Hall of Fame. Still, none of that success could fully satisfy his dream of polishing skates in his very own rink.
In 1996, Skip connected with the new owners of River Roll Skate Center and helped restore the long-neglected rink to its modern glory, installing new floors, a jamming sound system, and computer-controlled lights. Three years later, decades of hard work paid off as he and his wife—also a competitive skater—took over River Roll Skate Center's operations full-time.
"There's never a day I don't want to go to work," says Skip with a glee normally reserved for children who get to eat pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dessert. He relishes duties such as keeping the floor immaculate—indeed, the polished arena reflects the ceiling's colored lights like a kaleidoscope—which, in his experience, is crucial to the success of any skate center. While Skip acknowledges that roller skating hasn't changed much over the years, skaters' expectations have. To that end, 35,000 songs populate the rink's computer, from '70s and '80s pop music to family-friendly hip-hop, rock, and country-western hits. Throughout the facility, video screens flash names of birthday celebrants, popular music videos such as Michael Jackson's "Thriller," and classic movies such as Footloose.
Elsewhere, the scent of fresh-baked pizza wafts from the concession stand, where rollers refuel with traditional snacks such as hot dogs or nachos, and an arcade dispenses entertainment and prizes with a variety of video games. Once a month, the Dead Girl Derby takes over River Roll Skate Center, captivating audiences with breakneck speed and no-holds-barred competition akin to the days when the ancient Romans strapped chariots to the Titans' ankles.
A community presence in Kansas City since 1860, the Greater Kansas City YMCA forwards its mission of physical and social enrichment for men, women, and kids of all ages and backgrounds at its 18 locations. Each bustling outpost proffers members an embarrassment of fitness and entertainment riches, with everything from youth camps and after-school programs to group exercise classes, such as cycling, core training, and Pilates. Clubs and social organizations help members meet like-minded friends, and family activities strengthen bonds critically weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly.
At Screenland, campy and classic are rarely mutually exclusive terms. The movie theater serves as a cinematic time machine, transporting spectators through the history of Hitchcock's mysteries and straight into the heyday of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Though it also shows current titles, its schedule is often beholden to audience whims—the Crossroads location hosts new independent films that are uniquely screened at this sole location. This dual devotion to cherished and modern flicks helped Screenland earn the 2012 Readers' Choice award for Best Movie Theater from the Pitch.
Even outside the projection room, nostalgia rules. More than 40 games, from Donkey Kong to Missile Command, test dexterity at the Crossroads location's retro arcade, where guests can purchase passes to play indefinitely or until Frogger finally flags down a cab. Photographs taken by former Kansas City mayor Dick Berkley accompany historical trivia in the adjacent gallery, and celebrity handprints mark the outdoor patio. Greeting cinephiles out front is a marquee salvaged from the Isis Theatre, just as it once greeted a young Walt Disney when he shared his early animations there.
Wedding receptions and corporate meetings alike have taken advantage of the theater's capacity for private functions. At both exclusive and public events, however, a full-service bar supplies guests with libations, cracking open bottles of Boulevard Pale Ale and Tallgrass Velvet Rooster.
Natalie Smith needed some excitement in her life, which at that point merely consisted of performing as a professional ballet and hip-hop dancer, posing as a model, and balancing atop speeding motorcycles as a stuntwoman. After stumbling across a segment about pole dancing on the Oprah Winfrey show, she decided to spice things up a bit and dive headfirst into the fun yet demanding exercise form. She lost 25 pounds in two months, inspiring her to open her own studio—where she draws upon her experience in dancing and cheerleading to lead classes that span the sultry workout spectrum from pole routines to booty boot camp. The studio boasts 30 poles and 5,000 square feet of floor space, evoking the feeling of walking into a chrome forest—which is an experience similar to walking into the Redwoods after governor Schwarzenegger's controversial act to silver plate every tree. In the studio, Natalie and her team of certified instructors—twirling under a hot pink tin ceiling.—lead spins, climbs, and drops during lessons and private parties. They welcome ladies of all ages and builds to the women-only locale, which offers bed tanning to supplement its body-toning programs.
At the new Pole Worx location, classes are held in one of three new classrooms that house over 33 different poles. The new location also has two changing room and two tanning beds.
Merging golf clubs, gyms, and pools for their exclusive members, GreatLife Golf & Fitness’s collective includes 13 diverse golf courses throughout Kansas and Missouri, from the National Audubon Society–certified River Oaks in Grandview, Missouri to the 1920-built The Oaks in Leavenworth. With the one-week trial membership, golfers and their families can play on any of the verdant courses without paying the green fee. Chip through the par 70, 6,148-yard Berkshire course, or opt for nine holes at Abilene. In addition to invitations to exclusive golf leagues and social events, membership also includes access to any fitness centers within the network, from the pool and new workout center at the Salina club to the treadmills and river of syrup that runs through the Maple Creek campus.