Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Roller. Derby. Seriously.

So Sunday we went out to lunch after church with two other couples from our Sunday School (er, I mean, Life Group). One of the gals was talking about going out that night with her younger sister, and I'm afraid my ears perked up at the mere mention of the words:


Um, excuse me, what did you just say?

Oh, yes. This ultra-cool gal and her sister were, in fact, going to the local roller derby matchup that very night.

(image found here)

Realizing the fact that I was about to clinch my status as the ultra-nerdy-nerd-nerd of the group, I totally invited myself along. Oh, yes. I did. There was no way I was going to miss out on this little opportunity. Remember, I saw the movie. And several years ago, I thought I was big bad enough to actually consider showing up (with my scooter friend) to the auditions, just to check it out. Believe me, I may be small, but I've got spunk. Just as my husband.

Graciously, my friend said it would be fun for me to tag along (which hopefully I didn't rain on their parade). WOOT!

So off we trekked to the local skate rink that evening to watch a match titled "Malice in Thunderland" between the Thunder Dollz, one of our local teams, and a team from a neighboring city.

Oh yes, you know it's going to be good with a name like that. Ha.

Oh, and did I mention this experience earned me another jewel in my crown for the Most Amazing Mother USA Pageant? By skipping Sunday night church and leaving my boy at home with my husband instead of taking him to Pre-K choir? Oh yes, amazing mother that's me. Ditching church for roller derby.

The first thing I learned about roller derby is this:

Next to the State Fair, a roller derby match is a GOLD MINE for people watching.

Oh, yes, folks. Mullet-watching at its finest. Muffin tops, tattoo heaven, plumber's cracks out the wazoo, body piercings galore, and all colors of the rainbow Kool-aid hued hair. You name it, we saw it. I could have chosen to put together the most jaw-dropping array of clothing I owned into some punk rocker getup that would have made Punky Brewster proud, and I wouldn't have stuck out like a sore thumb in the least, but instead fit right in with half the crowd. But then some of the crowd was more run-of-the-mill average, including this hilarious little group of five older men that strolled in and took their seats in front of us. Seriously, in a sea of rebels and rebel-wannabe's, they looked like the deacons that escaped from the Southern Baptist Convention for the evening. And according to my friend, they must be avid fans because they were at the last matchup she went to. Cracked me up. Awesome, right? Oh man, I was lovin' it.

The second thing I learned about roller derby is this:

Violence, people. Next to ice hockey, a roller derby match is a GOLD MINE for violence.

I should've figured this out from the start. Like any good American sporting event, the whole thing opened with a good old-fashioned singing of "The Star Spangled Banner". Our patriotic songbird was none other than one of the roller derby girls who hopped out of her wheelchair and belted it out Star-Search style, while a fellow Goth-inspired-might-have-been-a-roller-derby-girl-or-might-have-just-been-her-punk-rocker-lady-friend began some very dramatic sign language, something I haven't experienced since my high school graduation. Wow. Oh yes, folks, this patriotic number was belted out by one of their team members who was apparently benched from a previous roller derby injury that left her in a wheelchair for the time being. Awesome.

This violence continued throughout the evening, most apparent in the second half when three of the girls from the visiting team (so sorry about that, Joplin, Missouri) were pummelled to the ground and taken off the rinks by medics. (Um, by medics who didn't exactly look like they would have official medic credentials. But maybe they did. But it was hard not to laugh when one waddled out with a roll of gauze. This poor girl was plowed hard to the ground by some very large women on skates, and he waddled out with a roll of gauze. Not so sure about how helpful he was.) And the violence continued when "Cherry Bloodbath" (yes, that was her derby name) was ejected from the game after proudly (and very purposefully) plowing into the biggest referree (aptly named Bubba, oh yes, he was), causing him to stop, drop and roll and roll and roll...

Google "roller derby injury" sometime when you've got a strong stomach. Seriously, people, these women mean business.

Another fact I learned about roller derby is this:

There are lots of rules, none of which are really that important since it's really all about the ruthless skating, punk outfits, and killer derby names.

I can tell you the gist of it. Basically the girls all skate around and around in a circle. Our teams skate flat-track, which, you guessed, means it is on a flat rink. (In the movie, Whip It, they skate on something that looks more like a bowl, but darned if I don't know what you'd call that.) Each team sends girls onto the track -- a jammer (which is what I'd want to be if I played), blockers, and a pivot (or two, I was confused at how many were out there). The jammer has stars on her helmet cover, the blockers just wear regular helmets, and the pivot has a stripe down her helmet cover. The jammer is basically the one trying to score. If she can skate through or past the group, she gets a point. The blockers are like the defense and the offense -- they are trying to help her get through or block her from getting through. The pivots kind of are at the front, trying to set the pace of skating for everyone else. After this, I got confused. I do know that there were two-minute sessions for the jammers to try and score points, but I lost it past that. You can look up the rules on Wikipedia if you want to really understand it.

If you've seen the movie, you would be laughing at how similar it is to real-life roller derby, at least the roller derby in my neck-of-the-woods. One thing that made me laugh continuously was the dude who was dressed in his suit and given a microphone to be the emcee for the evening. He was so cheesy and constantly sounded like he was going to start hollering out, "Are you ready to RUUUUUMMMMMBBBBBLLLLLLE?" like at the basketball games in the 90's, and pretty much everything he said sounded like the teachers on Charlie Brown ("Wah wah wah wah") because we had no idea what he was saying due to his not-so-high-tech microphone that was turned up a leetle bit too loud. Not to mention he looked like a bouncer-wannabe at a nightclub. There was also some sort of a lady out in the middle with the refs in a short go-go-dancer/borderline-unfortunate-is-she-or-isn't-she-a-um-lady-of-the-night-wannabe sort of outfit that just walked around, not really particularly doing much of anything. I wasn't sure if she was supposed to be kind of like those girls that stand outside the ring for all that crazy wrestling crap on TV. Not that I watch it. Because I don't.

And then there were all types of roller derby girls like in the movie. They all had the punk/Goth/pin-up girl thing going on with their crazy names, wacky outfits, tough personas, etc., but they were also as varied as could be. There was one pivot (I think on our team) that was very pin-up girl -- push-up bra working overtime, heavy makeup, and posed most of the time with her hands on her hip. Then there were the blockers that scared me. Big ladies that looked like they could knock me from here to Canada. And then there were lots of more regular girls that were just flat out good skaters. I really was impressed at the game itself. It takes a lot of stamina to skate around and around that hard and fast, not to mention taking about a zillion shoves and pushes while trying to stay on your feet and look good while doing it.

All in all, a fun experience, one I can check off my list of hilarious things to do/see in my lifetime, much like the I-want-to-drive-a-big-ol'-RV experience of a year ago (which you can catch here and here, in case you missed it). Loads o' fun. I highly recommend it for great entertainment. There were lots of families there, but I'd have to put out a word of caution that it might be more of a PG-13 experience, what with the colorful language when things got heated on the rink. And the violence. I'd have to go out in a suit of armor before I'd ever join up.

Although much of this was written somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I have to give mad props to the roller girls. They were totally rockin' it out there, and I had a wicked good time. I secretly would love to be a roller derby girl.

My favorite part was at the end of the night, walking past the booth of roller-girl-inspired-souvenirs for purchase. There was a t-shirt with the saying: "Rolling with my Oklahomies".

Love, love, loved it.


Christa said...

Thank you for the midnight entertainment. Reading this got giggling through my last two Statistics for the night. And now I'm done with the homework for chapter 7.

And I'm suddenly interested in roller-derby. Because that was a vivid and hilarious description.

The Busters said...

LOVE it!! I can totally see you on a roller derby team and I can totally vouch for your spunk. :) Oh, that t-shirt just made my day.

A Nerd and A Free Spirit said...

OMG. That is hilarious. And awesome. wow. I had no idea. it's like the state fair on steroids. I did go to a..... dangit... what is it called.... thing where cars all run into each other at a county fair once up in maryland. That was priceless. I'm glad you will always be able to remember that experience. ha.


Pray~and~Wait said...

That is AWESOME! This might be one of my favorite posts you've written! I had the whole thing envisioned in my head as I was reading...and I might add that you were a brave little thing for going! I think I laughed the hardest at the "deacons from the Southern Baptist Convention"....haha!!!! LOVE IT!!!!

~Michelle~ said...

alright, definitely need to catch the LA Derby Dolls in action now... I really do love all of the crazy names (Malice in Thunderland, lol), those ladies are super creative - did you know there is an official registry, they aren't supposed to duplicate a skater name?? And the non-flat track is a banked track.

And remind your friend Kathryn that the event she is talking about is a demo (demolition) derby... I've seen my fair share of those, given my rural Midwestern roots :)

31 everything said...

OMG! You crack me up! Too violent for me though - I'm a wimp!

Country Dreaming said...

When I was a little girl,my Dad and I watched Roller Derby on Saturdays--soooooooo much fun!
Never been to a real match though.
Bet you had fun!


katie said...

Valerie, you truly crack me up, friend!

mo said...

Awesome!!! There is a rollerskating revoltuion happening here and I am glad you are having one too! Roller Derby sounds beyond bad a** cool and if I didn't know it would hurt like the devil, I would do it! But I'm a lover not a fighter so I think I am going a more Xanadu flowyness and love and airiness route with my skating. Too bad you don't live closer- we could sneak to the rink while the kids were at school! Hey my word verification is Fantinga- maybe that could be my skater name!