Monthly Archives: August 2009

Roller Derby 101

I went to a roller derby match last night. Admittedly, I knew that going would inevitably create material for a new blog post but a friend of mine announced recently that she was in a 10-week training session to become a roller derby girl (if that’s what you call them). I was curious to find out if today’s roller derby was just like the 1970’s picture I had in my head of people in wild outfits, punching, pushing and shoving other people off the track.

This match took place in an old hangar. It was the Death Track Dolls vs. the Gore Gore Girls. I’m not sure what I expected but it was indeed an old hangar. I kept wondering who on earth goes to these matches. Well, obviously tonight, it was me but the fact that we had to wait in line to get in showed me that there is obviously some kind of fan base.

We stepped inside and took in the scene. The flat track was only marked by some taped down tubing and there was a small table set up in the middle. Not only were there stands set up all around the hangar but people had even brought their own lawn chairs and had set up on the floor. The really brave ones sat directly on the floor only a few feet from the track. My friend pointed out that area as the “suicide zone” because apparently some of the players actually fall into the crowd.

We found some seats within the safety of the stands, asking the kind gentleman with his nose, tongue, lip, both eyebrows and ears pierced if the seats were free. I sat down and tried to understand who these people were that came to these matches. While it was a bit of a mixed crowd, most people, decorated with numerous piercings and tattoos, were clearly friends of the players.

My observations were quickly interrupted with the announcer, nicknamed “Crankypants” announcing each referee. It was difficult to understand him through the distorted speaker system so I referred to my program. It became clear very quickly that everyone had a nickname – even the refs. The first ref out was “Sir Refsalot”, adorned in a kilt. The biggest cheers came for “The Krow” though, who came out wearing black wings and skated with wings spread around the track.

The announcer then began announcing the names…things like “Lunchbox” and “Dust Bunny” and “Dolly Parts ‘Em”. As the names were announced, these women came out and paraded around the track.

The Death Track Dolls were the first to be introduced, in their white tank tops. Each woman wore some kind of tights/stockings and many wore torn up fishnet stockings underneath bootie shorts or a short skirt. The women on this team even took time to do their makeup, adding things like fake blood coming out of their mouths and white and black make up to make them look dead. The theme of the Gore Gore Girls was clearly leopard skin, as they all came out wearing some sort of leopard skin leotard again matched with various stockings. We were then asked to stand for the national anthem. We all stood their in silence until a recording of O Canada came on about halfway through the first verse. A singer quickly joined in and while his voice was lovely, he made the grave mistake of stopping and listening to the recording his voice had previously drowned out. He, and the entire hangar of fans quickly realized he was not at all with the recording. He panicked, and tried to come in at the right time but came in with the wrong words! He stopped again and then got back on track just in time for the final line of the song.

The match got started soon after that and while it took me some time to understand what was going on, I again, referred to my booklet to help me. After reading the explanation of the game and the rules, I realized this roller derby was a little different than older versions. Apparently there was no punching or even elbowing allowed. ‘Phew!’

As the game continued, the announcer continued talking through the mic, informing people of what was going on. When he wasn’t doing that, he was trying to get the crowd excited and cheering loudly. His method however, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired. Sure he said all of the right things but as he demanded the audience cheer “louder! Louder! LOUDER!!”, his face only looked angrier. I mean, it was going purple with rage. I think in the end, the fans were intimidated into cheering louder.

After the first thirty minute period, it was announced that there would be a thirty minute break. I wondered if there was going to be some sort of 7th inning stretch. It was somewhere between watching one fan build a pyramid of beer cans on the floor and noticing the woman wearing a spiked, purple bra that covered only her one remaining breast that the dancers came out.

Two young girls came out dressed like some sort of angels. Perhaps it is because I’ve been spoiled by watching “So You Think You Can Dance” and seeing some really fabulous dancers but these ones just seemed to wave their arms and run back and forth. Perhaps it wasn’t even the dancing itself that I was disappointed with but the fact that it just seemed so out of place at this particular venue.

The second half started with much of the same action that the first half of the game held. It was fast paced and it seemed that when there was a fall, the key was to act as dramatically as possible, curling up in pain, or slapping the floor. After each dramatic episode however, the women got up and continued skating without any problems.

The game ended and the Gore Gore Girls got to do their victory lap around the track. While it was an interesting night, we didn’t stick around long after the game!


roller derby



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They Don’t Love You Like I Love You

I did something last night that reminded me of just how old I really am. Yes, I realize I am not quite reaching ‘senior citizen’ status but last night was a gentle reminder that anything I do has an equal and opposite reaction.

A friend from work told me she had tickets to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. At the time, I had just discovered this rock, indie group and told her I liked them. As it turns out, she had an extra ticket. I told her I would be excited to go.

It was general admission so we had arranged to meet fairly early to ensure we could get close to the stage when the doors had opened. I took the time to get ready and pick a comfortable, yet decent outfit. I decided flats would be my best bet as we would be standing in line for awhile.

As we stood in line, I looked around and saw quite a mixed crowd although many of them were at least 10 years younger than I was. After waiting over an hour, we finally got in and found our spots by the stage. We were in the third row of people back from the stage. This was all very exciting but as we waited another hour for something to happen on the stage, I began to notice my feet were getting a little sore.

“Oooh, not sure about this shoe choice. No arch support. Should have worn orthotics. Did I just think that? I don’t even own orthotics! No, mustn’t think that way. Must be cool and young and hip.”

So I ignored the pain. The first act came on. Some singer with two guys DJ-ing. As the DJ’s started up, it became very clear that my ears were going to take a beating tonight. The bass started up and my entire chest vibrated. The vibrations increased, out my arms and even to the tip of my nose. I felt like I had been locked in the trunk of a pimped out Acura at the hub of the stereo speakers. As the singer came out in her cape. Yes, you read that right, cape, I wasn’t sure I would immediately see the musical value. I struggled through this act but convinced myself it would all be worth it when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs came on.

As they came on, I couldn’t help but notice that my feet were hurting even more. Perhaps as long as I was distracted, I’d be ok. As we waited once again, my mind also wandered a bit…

“I wonder what time this concert will end? I wonder how difficult it will be to get out of the parking lot? I wonder if I’ll get to bed at my usual time?”

These are not the thoughts of a carefree person on vacation. These are the thoughts of someone who is clearly set into a routine. A very boring routine. It was time to let loose. Time to have some fun.

The band came out and the thrill of the crowd cheering was something I’d forgotten. I actually was getting excited now.

That excitement quickly disappeared when the band started playing. I was suddenly swept up in this see of squished teenage bodies who were all jumping in unison to the beat. Was this fun? I wasn’t sure at this point. I guess it was as the pushing started that I really started to get cranky. I literally had to lock my arms with elbows out, just to stay afloat.

“Was this safe? Somebody was going to get hurt! Why is nobody else concerned about this dangerous mob??”

Things only got worse as those teenage bodies that were rubbing up against me, poking me and grabbing me started to sweat.

“Did someone just step on my foot! Hey, I think you just touched my bum! Do you mind not shoving so much?”

At one point the singer threw a towel out into the audience. Two boys (yes, they were teenaged boys) fought violently over this sweaty towel until the crowd threw them out.

We finally looked at eachother and made our way toward the back. I don’t know why I was surprised by this but it seemed so much more civilized toward the back and the demographics of the crowd changed to older concert goers.

Ironically enough, as we finally reached the back, the band was done and the lights came on. Although I was relieved by it being over, the band really did sound fantastic and this only encouraged me to listen to them even more.

All of that being said, this crowd clearly loved this group differently than I loved them. From this point on, I would love them through the sound of speakers only or perhaps in the comfort of a venue with assigned seating.

They loved them in a “I wanna jump up and down, crashing into people and screaming while I do it kind of way” and I loved them in more of a “this is neat music and I think I will show it by politely bobbing my head to the beat” kind of way.


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