The Sacred Heart Catholic church has seen a lot in its 121 years. Completed at the end of the 19th century, the large, Romanesque building had survived two earthquakes, was home to one of San Francisco’s only predominately African-American Catholic congregations, and has hosted Vietnam War protesters and the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program. But for the last five years, the building has held an entirely different kind of worship service, opening its doors every weekend to roller skaters of all ages.
On Fridays and Saturdays, you can either rent or bring your own roller skates and skate underneath disco balls, LED lights, and stained-glass windows of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, while a live DJ plays disco, funk, and pop music from within a neon-lit altar.
Presiding over the action is San Francisco’s “Godfather of Skate,” David G. Miles, Jr., who serves as emcee and impresario of the Church of 8 Wheels. After repairing and renovating the century-old building, Miles founded the Church of 8 Wheels in 2013. Disco-themed costumes are encouraged, especially during Saturday night’s Black Rock Roller Disco.
Whether you go for the earlier “family session” or the late-night “adult skate,” be sure to get there early. It might still look like an unassuming church on the outside, but the inside can get more packed than the hottest nightclub in town.