Skate Fast, Kick Ass.
November 27, 2005 4:26 PM   Subscribe

A Roller Derby revival has been building for quite some time. The All-American, All-kickass sport has had a long history (previously discussed here) and gone through multiple waves. Although it has been associate with a fair amount of cheese in the past, a new generation of skaters are taking it on and taking it seriously. Since it's the off season, why not bone up on RD's history and rules? Or just find a league near you.
posted by piratebowling (34 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Out of hometeam and home borough pride, I need to proclaim my love for my girls. Rock on.
posted by piratebowling at 4:26 PM on November 27, 2005

Having moved from Austin this year, one of the things I miss most is going to see the Putas and the Holy Rollers.
posted by one.louder.ash! at 4:32 PM on November 27, 2005

Roller Derby was standard fare on broadcast TV through the early 70's. Then came the movie Rollerball. No way the girls could top that, I guess.
posted by telstar at 4:37 PM on November 27, 2005

I knew one of the Gotham Girls way back when. I wonder if she still does it. RD girls = teh scary hott.
posted by Eideteker at 5:33 PM on November 27, 2005

I saw Portland's Rose City Rollers when they had their first public show a month ago. They expected to sell 300 seats at the show; they ended up selling 1500 and turning another thousand or so people away at the door. And yes, I agree, they're HOT... scary, but HOT!
posted by SpecialK at 5:40 PM on November 27, 2005

Carmen Monoxide! gotta love'm.
posted by stirfry at 5:42 PM on November 27, 2005

You'd best be careful not to pick a fight with an MVP.
posted by kaseijin at 5:45 PM on November 27, 2005

which one? I had a friend that went on a date with one of the Gotham Girls once.
posted by piratebowling at 5:52 PM on November 27, 2005

some of the injuries look quite nasty. i don't think i've ever seen an arse bruise quite so big. poor girl probably won't be able to sit down for a few weeks. these ladies seriously need padded shorts.
posted by rodney stewart at 6:03 PM on November 27, 2005

pirate: Wish I could remember. Think friend-of-a-friend. I just remember that she did roller derby and thinking that that was really cool (right after I thought: Roller derby? Do people still do that?). Either way, I can't skate (roller or ice) period, so anyone that can fight on skates has my respect.
posted by Eideteker at 6:47 PM on November 27, 2005

I recently saw the very first match for my hometown league, and I was surprised to find it genuinely fun and exciting, instead of just super hot (which it was). I need to commend my beloved Sandra Day O'Clobber, who kicked ass the whole game.
posted by deafmute at 6:54 PM on November 27, 2005

one.louder: sing it! My buddy Jenacide skates for the Putas and she kicks some serious ass.

Rollergirls rock.
posted by pineapple at 7:34 PM on November 27, 2005

It's better with a soundtrack... courtesy of Kerowack. This must have been shot in San Fransisco, I love the way the vinyl scratching is synchronized with the appearance of topless guys in tiny shorts...
posted by anthill at 8:13 PM on November 27, 2005

Discussed here, too.

Anyway, this is funny, because I just got off the phone with Busty O'Lipp (she's standing at left) from the Carolina Rollergirls a few minutes ago; the team's gonna be on my cable access show this week. They just got back from their first away bout, in Minnesota. That's one of the more exciting developments this year; as more and more teams pop up across the country, inter-city competition is really starting to happen more frequently and rules across cities are getting more consistent. Busty tells me there's a big inter-city tournament planned for February.

Thanks for this post; it's great to see such a grass-roots independent sport really taking off.
posted by mediareport at 8:15 PM on November 27, 2005

Do not mess with the Rat City Roller Girls--they are fierce--and holy crap just made ESPN magazine!

It's been amazing to watch roller derby build momentum in Seattle. Look for the RCRGs at the Dust Devil National Championships coming up in February.
posted by donovan at 9:50 PM on November 27, 2005

My girlfriend is a Windy City Roller; they just finished their first season. I think their attendance was 1500-3000 each bout which is around what WWE draws in some of its territories, just to make a sports-entertainment comparison. Except I don't think WWE donates its profits to charity, and nobody in the WCR has died of steroids and booze. Yet.
posted by jtron at 9:54 PM on November 27, 2005

You know the revival has come full circle when A&E teams up with the producers of "Laguna Beach" for a docu-series. It's not on IMDB yet but I just saw an ad for it, premiering in January.
posted by somethingotherthan at 11:51 PM on November 27, 2005

I dunno, somethingotherthan, last I heard the producers (and it's a reality show, not a docu-series, whatever that is) nosing around had to look for a while before they found a team that would let them film. The folks around here were pretty skeptical, I remember, when the TV folks started calling. Turns out one of the Texas leagues went for it:

The TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls league is the subject of the A&E reality series; its nemesis, the Texas Rollergirls league, is not. Ms. Dubuc, the executive producer of "Roller Girls," said the characters include a woman who can't commit to anything: a relationship, a job, or the league; a late bloomer working through self-image issues; a hard-partying divorcée; and a single mom.

I love this quote:

"The dramatic part is, they go and act out their therapy on the rink, which makes for good TV," said Nancy Dubuc, a senior vice president of programming at A&E Network and the executive producer of the show.

I'll bet most of the girls who get filmed end up regretting it.
posted by mediareport at 12:05 AM on November 28, 2005

I was just looking for rollerskates on eBay. Partly for exercise, partly as a form of cheap, short-distance transportation.
posted by deusdiabolus at 1:54 AM on November 28, 2005

i had fun watching carolina rollergirls this year and, thanks to mediareport, got to meet a couple of them after our mefi meetup. it's not the same as the roller derby leagues of the 70's, which i so fondly remember watching on tv, and which were about as staged as pro wrestling. most, though not all, of these new teams are flat trackers, having matches on floors laid out in ordinary indoor skate parks. it makes for considerably less action and speed. considering the homegrown nature of the sport and the low amounts of money involved (i understand most of these new team members actually *pay* to skate with their teams), that's probably a good thing insurance-wise. basically, you can go to one of these matches, yell and scream for bloodsport, but there is no guilt factor as there is no violence, real or feigned, involved. it's good clean campy fun. plus, garage punk bands during halftime!
posted by 3.2.3 at 3:33 AM on November 28, 2005

To counter directly any impression 3.2.3 may have given you, Rollerderby is still very much a (potentially) violent and very real sport.

One of my best friends is an avid rollergirl, and it's become her life, sometimes to her detriment, really.

They fall fast and hard, and they often get into fights that can end with broken noses or other injuries. One bout I went to, between Arizona's AZRD and the Tucson Roller Derby managed to have two girls actually ejected from the bout for their particular breed of fighting—that is, hold down and beat on the lead jammer who refuses to fight back, until lead jammer's teammate comes and socks you in the face, hard.

Good times.

Regardless, rollerderby rules still differ from league to league, although there are some (as of present) unsuccessful attempts to work things out and come to a standard rule set. At the very least, they are not scripted in any way, and the girls are fiercely competitive.

In Tucson, the girls have to practice with the league for weeks before they take their skills assessment test to prove that they know how to fall properly, how to block, what's legal and what's not. (Not falling properly can and does lead to broken ankles and other fun times. Falling properly still hurts, especially if it's at a high rate of speed, or into a wall.) My favorite rollergirl practices something like three to four times a week, with at least one scrimmage a week. And she has the ass to prove it.

Regardless, it's actually a pretty fun sport to go and watch. It's different than anything you're used to, and the price is usually less than $20 for a good 2-3 hour bout. Most have live music and beer, to boot, so give it a shot.

Plus, there's nothing like hugging a sweaty rollergirl after she managed to nearly get ejected for tripping up some girl on the other team and sending her into a faceplant.

They're also probably some of the edgiest "girls" you'll ever meet. Some of them still scare me to my core.
posted by disillusioned at 5:32 AM on November 28, 2005

I know quite a few of the ladies in both of the leagues here in Austin. They all kick some serious ass.
posted by jbelshaw at 7:58 AM on November 28, 2005

I do scores and stats for the Windy City Rollers (as Scorey Feldman), and it's crazy competitive around here. Even the practices are hard core. Go see a bout today! And if there isn't a league near you, start one!
posted by eamondaly at 8:47 AM on November 28, 2005

I don't think these girls should be on ESPN. That network should be reserved for Scrabble, Poker and Bass Fishing.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:04 AM on November 28, 2005

Thsnk you, eamondaly for correcting me. I guess it's only off season for the Gotham Girls.
posted by piratebowling at 9:49 AM on November 28, 2005

Alamo City Rollergirls for the greatest victory.
posted by botono9 at 10:18 AM on November 28, 2005

Attended the first Duke City Derby match here in Albuquerque a few weeks back. I know most of the organizers and a few of the girls. They're all extremely badass. There's another match coming up on Saturday the 10th of December. It would behoove my fellow Albuquerquean MiFites to check it out.
posted by signalnine at 3:30 PM on November 28, 2005

one of my former roommates (just moved out the other day) is a holy roller as well as serving in some (never understood by me) administrative capacity for the txrd league. A&E treated them pretty well, paid for them to get a really nice place at Austin Studios, covered most of their administrative costs, and helped them to turn a modest profit for the year. There's already talk of a second season, and if things go well, the girls might actually make enough money from it that they won't have to waitress 50 hours a week to pay the bills.

That being said, it's my understanding that there's been some bickering between the league and A&E, as the latter is trying to now assert all sorts of copyright and trademark claims, which would totally screw txrd out of any possible merchandising rights.
posted by Lee Marvin at 4:34 PM on November 28, 2005

Rollerderby was the basis of a huge Metacoincidence when, a day after I attended my first ever rollerderby experience (on behalf of a friend who was cheerleading), one of the skaters mentioned her rollerderby nickname in an AskMe thread on common birth names.
posted by rafter at 5:03 PM on November 28, 2005

I meant for the first link to point to palegirl's profile, of course.
posted by rafter at 5:04 PM on November 28, 2005

which would totally screw txrd out of any possible merchandising rights.

Like selling t-shirts they'd been selling for a long time before A&E came along? That would sure suck, even if it sounds like typical corporate TV bullshit - the kind of bullshit I'd warn friends away from. Glad to hear things seem to have gone well so far, but I'll wait to see the final result on-air. Again, I'll be pleasantly surprised if most of the girls don't end up regretting their participation.
posted by mediareport at 8:18 PM on November 28, 2005

Thanks for the updates on the A&E series. I just saw the ad randomly before bed and, curiously, couldn't find much online about it. I said "docu-series" semi-sarcastically because it appears it will be a show like Mindfreak or Inked - not quite true "reality show" (as it isn't a game being played) but not quite a documentary series, either.
posted by somethingotherthan at 8:44 PM on November 28, 2005

Since you mentioned the A&E show, CSI: NY will be airing a derby-heavy episode on Wednesday, November 30th: "Jamalot". Several of LA's Derby Dolls appear in the episode.

Of course, one wonders why they didn't just use NYC's resident Gotham Girls...
posted by eamondaly at 9:15 AM on November 29, 2005

Hi, I'm Ivana Clobber, first recruited, trained & bouted with the Mad Rollin' Dolls, then played in Providence Roller Derby, where I was the captain of the Sakonnet River Roller Rats (I'll skate with PRD at the Tucson invitational mentioned above.)

I am also the founder, coach, and league coordinator of Boston Derby Dames and captain of our travel team, the Boston Massacre, who will next be bouting in Las Vegas against the Neander Dolls of Sin City Roller Girls on December 17th. Our Slay Belle Bash is coming up on December 15th. Contact me if you need more info.

These are The Dames. I love them, they're amazing women.

I have had one fairly sweet injury, pictured here and here and here .

I love Roller Derby, it's amazing. It's brought out the absolute best in me.
posted by palegirl at 9:41 PM on November 29, 2005

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