Pop Sk8 comes to Westfield Valencia Town Center

Ann Potenza started the Pop Sk8 roller rink to find a fun way to engage communities. Matt Fernandez/ The Signal

Summer fun and musical workouts have come early to Santa Clarita.

Pop Sk8, California’s first theme pop-up outdoor roller rink, held its first opening day in the parking lot of the Westfield Valencia Mall Saturday to crowds which included both children who had never tried on skates to professional roller derby competitors. The pop-up installation is scheduled to be in Valencia until May 27.

“This opening weekend was really great as a quality control because the professionals were all saying that it was a good rink and everyone was so appreciative,” said Ann Potenza, creator and producer of Pop Sk8.

Potenza hosts the Ice at Santa Monica pop-up ice skating rink each winter and wanted to create another event that she could host in the warmer months of the year. She also wanted to make Pop Sk8 even bigger than Ice, so she decided to build the event around music, incorporating live musical performances, a live DJ and era-themed music nights, like the 80s hits, swing music and broadway musicals.

“The music is really what I think sets us apart from being just another pop-up,” she said. “I really want this to feel like a show and that you’re part of it or like a musical workout.”

One of the biggest challenges for Potenza was finding a public place with enough flat ground that she could host the event. After the success of her ice rinks, Westfield offered to host Pop Sk8 at different malls. She chose Valencia as the inaugural location due to the nice weather.

Pop-ups are an increasingly popular trend, especially in Los Angeles, and Potenza attributes that to the startup business culture, food trucks and the ease of testing out an idea with the public at a temporary pop up rather than an expensive permanent brick and mortar location. She also thinks that the excitement of something new and temporary draws public attention from people who do not want to miss out on a new opportunity, especially in areas that can’t sustain these startups long-term.

“There are a lot creative, new ideas that people want to try out and people are really receptive to it because pop-ups allow them to try things they may never have seen or experienced otherwise,” she said. “People can see you, learn about what you’re doing and hopefully are excited when you come back. Pop-ups are a new version of the circus coming to town.”

Brianna Pina saw the pop up rink while driving by the mall with her family and were drawn in by the music.

“I had been beach skating when I was a younger so I thought we would come check this out,” Pina said. “It’s really cool because there are not a lot of pop ups like this here. It’s great to have events where kids can come and enjoy with their families.”

If this year is successful, Potenza hopes to expand to other cities and have longer runs. She said that she has already received emails from Orange County, San Diego Irvine from interested parties. She emphasizes performance and music as the center and distinguishing factor, and envisions multiple Pop Sk8 venues live streaming performances to each other in real time.

“A lot of indoor roller rinks are closing down and our goal to expand so on a business sense, success looks like drawing in enough customers to pay back our initial investments and make some money on the side,” Potenza said. “On a personal level, success is getting positive feedback and I got all that just in this opening weekend alone.”


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