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"We can see where they are and what they're doing," notes Barron, who's new to skating and feels safer on in-lines.

It's a frigid, seemingly desolate evening in the big-box cluster at the mouth of Susie Wilson Road in Essex.

The rink has a capacity of 642, but the Perrens cap the number of skaters at 450, with one "skate guard" to oversee every 150 patrons.

Theme nights, 18-plus nights, skating lessons and birthday parties are all in the works.

"I love it," he says, demonstrating rapid footwork typical of "roller jam" — essentially break dancing on skates — in the snack bar.

"I like how you can dance and do whatever you want." The soft-spoken Perren père seems to be everywhere in the rink at once — in the rental shop selling quads to a customer, in the DJ booth or zipping across the rink floor with élan.

Vincent likewise says he "grew up" at Skateland; now he brings his daughter to the Essex rink.

Virtually all the parents Seven Days talks to note with approval that Skateland is a screen-free oasis, thanks to its no-cellphones policy. "I bring a lot of friends here," Savannah Billado-Vincent says.

They talk about traveling to New York and New Hampshire for a smooth floor to spin their wheels.