ON THE ROCKS

The Kraken Community Iceplex Is Learning How to Nightlife

Ice skating’s probably the coolest thing you can do in Seattle past 9pm.

By Zoe Sayler December 14, 2021

Like a dance floor, only slippery.

Image: Zoe Sayler

Pre-gaming with a mug of hot buttered rum is not my typical MO. But neither is ice skating: Up until the Kraken Community Iceplex opened in September 2021, Seattle proper had fewer publicly accessible ice skating rinks than San Jose, California, or Kissimmee, Florida.

We nabbed figure skates, but hockey skates are available, too, each for $5.

Image: Zoe Sayler

Now, little Seattleites don tiny hats and learn forward and backward swizzles. The University of Washington's inaugural women's hockey team scores its inaugural goals. And, on Fridays, inexpert and occasionally intoxicated Seattleites blunder along the ice until 10:30pm.

What is there to do past 9pm besides eat and drink? It's a question that's plagued the booze-averse and bar-tired since the dawn of time (even more since the start of the pandemic). And here was our city's brand-new, state-of-the-art iceplex offering an 8:30pm start time, a $15 price tag, and an adjacent full bar, knowing full well that drinking before skating is a slope as slippery as the rink post-Zamboni.

I assembled a double date for those pre-skate hot buttered rums the minute I heard.

Zoning out on the Zamboni provides a welcome break mid-skate.

Image: Zoe Sayler

Any nervousness we had about looking foolish quickly dissipated with the rum and the company. Most everyone was too busy oohing at the color-changing lights to pay much attention to our form. And hardly anyone in this town, it turns out, knows how to skate.

A few experts on hockey blades zig-zagged between the slower clusters like teenagers at a skate park. Some younger kids kept to the center to practice what they’d learned in lessons earlier that week. Others hovered closeish to the wall or glided slowly near the edges, just brave enough to try holding hands.

After several dozen laps and one uneventful fall apiece (don't worry, only a few heads swivel when your ass makes contact with the ice), 32 Bar and Grill beckoned. Despite the lingering smell of rental gear, I dreamed up a sort of après skate vibe: cute-themed cocktails, a fire, perhaps, and myself, perched at a bar looking quite like a figure skater off duty.

The raucous conversation of the rosy-cheeked hockey players seemed promising, but the iceplex did falter a bit here. We were shuffled from table to table as sections shut off due to lack of servers. No fewer than three separate staff members verified our vaccination status (wasn't that what the wristbands were for?). The espresso machine was apparently broken (though maybe it was presumptuous to order the menu's most complicated cocktail on a busy night just a few weeks after opening), so we settled for margaritas that tasted heavy with sour mix.

We'll try it again once the bar's done a few laps—it did give us a place to get our land legs, poke fun at each other's amateur skating stance, and plan our next trip to the iceplex. We weren't there to drink, anyway.

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