As my friends and loyal readers know, I don’t get around much anymore. But Saturday night–not coincidentally, the night dubbed by Sir Elton John as “alright for fightin'”–I headed out for my first women’s flat track roller derby game, featuring the Cincinnati Rollergirls.
I went with my Planned Parenthood YP peeps for our group social event, so all I had to do was show up. The organizer had tickets purchased and seats waiting for us on the floor–the “suicide seats,” as they are apparently called. That’s because roller derby players frequently wipe out and land in your lap when you sit in those seats. Cool, huh?!
So what the heck is roller derby, anyway? That’s what I wanted to know, too. I had a vague image in my mind of that 70s James Caan movie melded together with elementary school rollerskating parties, where I carefully avoided contact with anyone and stuck to the edges of the rink.
At the game, I quickly learned that the “track” consists of a large gym floor marked with Christmas lights to show official boundaries. Every few minutes, two teams of women adorned in all manner of fishnet stockings and ballz-to-the-wallz jerseys (Candy Kickass, Hannah Barbaric, and Shirley Temptya, to name a few) skate like mad, going around and around. One woman from each team, known as the “jammer” (noted by the star on her helmet), tries to break through the pack, while others try to stop her. Once the jammer gets out in front during a “jam” (I’m not making this up), she skates super-fast to go around the track a bunch of times and score points. (Disclaimer: This is completely my made-up version of how flat track roller derby is played. Visit this site if you want to read the actual rules of play.)
The skaters are actually fantastic on wheels (old-school skates, no Rollerblades here) and can maneuver even as their opponents bump the living crap out of them. Sure, they fall down, trip each other, and land in spectators’ laps–but they get right back up (most of the time) and keep skating.
Even though I was pooped from a day that started at 6:30 a.m. and went nonstop with toddler fun and housework, I still thoroughly enjoyed my night out at the roller derby. The Cincinnati Rollergirls just kicked ass. They looked amazing, were so athletic and tough, and clearly had a blast competing in a sport they love.
I also was surprised how many families were there, along with all kinds of other people. I even got a toddler-sized tee for Cassie that says “My Mommy Can Beat Up Your Mommy” with a Cincinnati Rollergirls logo on the back. Sweet! Nothing stereotypical about it. And of course, it was nice to throw back a beer with my PPYP pals for a night, with only the suicide seats to worry about.