Yesterday Mini Red and I decided to do something a bit different… We went to the Roller Derby to see the DC Roller Girls.
We had a blast!
We got there fairly early and it’s a good thing if you want a good seat in the bleachers. Otherwise you can sit on the floor on the edge of the flat track but you have to be 18 to be in the front row since a player could be thrown into you. The crowd was minimal but it was a very eclectic group and fun to watch. I thought DC Roller Girls was a team but it consists of several teams for the DC area. A woman with the group in front of us was explaining how the derby works and how points are accrued.
I decided to go check a few things out and found myself at the t-shirt stand. I asked the tattooed girl behind the counter how many teams DC had and who was playing today. She told me DC has the Cherry Blossom Bombshells, DC Demon Cats and Scare Force One. On this night Scare Force One would play against a Philadelphia Team named the Heavy Metal Hookers but the main event was the Cherry Blossom Bombshells vs the DC Demon Cats. She told me if I had any more questions to just stop any of the players mulling around.
When I got back to the seats Mini Red and I shared information we had each gotten. She had been listening in on the rules of the game while I shared the information I had gotten. We noticed a player from the Bombshells handing out stickers. I wanted to meet this player and get a sticker for Mini Red but Mini Red was hesitant, feeling intimidated by her surroundings and wanted to stay in her seat. I urged her to come with me because I knew she would feel regret later if she didn’t. She hesitantly agreed but was soon excited to meet, the incredibly nice, Dr. Drea who we even got a picture with.
Roller Derby has an air of violence or so we have been led to believe but to meet these women and watch the game it isn’t like that at all. Of course there is pushing and shoving out there but it isn’t like that in reality at least not in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).
“Nearly all contemporary roller derby leagues are all-female and self-organized, and were formed in an indie, DIY spirit by relatively new roller derby enthusiasts. These leagues deploy traditional quad roller skates, and a punk aesthetic and/or ethic is often prominent. Many, if not most, are legally incorporated as limited liability companies, and a few are non-profit organizations. Most compete on flat tracks. Only 4 compete on banked tracks.
Most players in these leagues skate under aliases, many of which are creative examples of word play with satirical, mock-violent or sexual puns, alliteration, and allusions to pop culture. Examples include Sandra Day O’Clobber (Sandra Day O’Connor), Scariett Tubman (Harriett Tubman), Skid’n Nancy (Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen), Goldie Knoxx (Goldilocks, Fort Knox), and Anna Mosity (animosity). Some players claim their names represent alter egos which they adopt whilst skating. By the 2009 season, however, a small number of players on at least three leagues had started skating under their real names.
The names of the bouts themselves are typically as sardonic and convoluted — for example, Nightmare on Hull Street (Nightmare on Elm St.), Seasons Beatings, (Seasons Greetings), Night of the Rolling Dead (Night of the Living Dead); Spanksgiving (Thanksgiving), Grandma Got Run Over By a Rollergirl (Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer), Skate & Destroy Her, Cupid’s Quarrel, Shamrock and Roll, Pushin’ Daisies, Cinco de May-hem (Cinco de Mayo), and War of the Wheels (War of the Worlds).
The camp can extend to players’ uniforms as well. Costumes are often inspired by or comparable with rockabilly or burlesque fashions, and tattoos and tutus are commonly in evidence. In some roller derby leagues, showy on-track behavior, half-time entertainment and randomly selected “penalty games” emphasize the “entertainment” in sports entertainment. The extent to which such non-athletic stylizations are embraced varies from league to league, and continues to be a source of some contention.
Inasmuch as roller derby is a contact sport, the risk of injury is non-trivial. Injuries range from common bruises and sprains to broken bones and beyond. As is the case with many sporting events and other large public gatherings, many modern roller derby games are required to be played with EMTs on hand. Some leagues prominently display their injuries, and safety and injuries are a perennial topic on skating blogs and other forums.
Although the 2000s revival of roller derby was initially all-female, some leagues later introduced all-male teams, and co-ed games.”
The Rules (Thanks to Wikipedia):
“Most current roller derby leagues use rules developed by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). A summary of the WFTDA rules follows:
Roller derby takes place on a circuit track. Offense and defense are played simultaneously. The two teams playing send five players each onto the track — three blockers (defense), one pivot (last line of defense) and one jammer (scorer). Helmet covers are used to display the players’ positions: a striped cover is used for pivots, a cover with two stars is used for jammers, and no cover is used for blockers.
Pivots and blockers from both teams start the game by forming a single pack. In a pack, all players face counterclockwise. The pivots line up next to each other, followed by a layer of four blockers, followed by a layer of two blockers. The two jammers, who are not considered to be part of the pack, are positioned 20 feet behind the pack. At this point, no differentiation need be made between the two teams; as long as the pack formation is as described above, it does not matter if the team members are interspersed randomly in the pack.
The referee signals the start of jam formation by blowing a whistle. During jam formation, the entire pack moves counterclockwise, during which time players can change position. All pivots/blockers must remain in the pack (i.e., no more than 20 feet in front of or behind the largest group containing blockers from both teams). Jammers remain stationary during jam formation. When the last person in the pack has passed where the front of the pack was initially lined up, the referee blows the whistle twice, signaling the jammers to take off, and play begins in earnest with a jam.
A jam is a 2-minute countdown period during which both teams attempt to score points. Points can only be scored by the jammers, who, moving counter-clockwise, attempt to pass the pack and lap around as many times as possible. After passing the pack the first time, jammers earn one point each time they legally pass an opposing blocker/pivot. During a jam, all pivots/blockers must remain in the pack. Pivot/blockers attempt to assist their jammer through and out of the pack while simultaneously stopping the opposing jammer from exiting the pack. If a pivot/blocker falls or otherwise becomes separated from the pack, she is out of play (i.e., cannot block or assist the jammers) until she catches up to the pack.
The first jammer to legally pass all pivots and blockers once the jam begins wins the status of lead jammer for the remainder of the jam. The lead jammer can decide to end the jam at any time before the 2 minutes are up. She does this by placing her hands on her hips repeatedly, which signals the referee to officially call off the jam.
After a lead jammer has been established, both jammers have the option of passing their positions to their teams’ respective pivots (passing the star). This is done by removing the 2-star helmet cover and handing it to the pivot. The pivot then becomes the jammer, and the jammer becomes the pivot for the remainder of the jam. If the original jammer was the lead jammer, the position of lead jammer is not passed on; the position is forfeited for the remainder of the jam.
To impede the progress of the opposing team’s jammer, players may block using body parts above the mid-thigh, excluding forearms, hands, and head. Elbows may not be used in blocking, and cannot be swung at other players or used to hook an opponent’s or teammate’s arm.
Each game consists of two 30-minute or three 20-minute periods. At the end of each jam, players re-form the pack and continue play.
Penalties are given to skaters who block illegally, fight or behave in an unsporting manner, or otherwise break the rules. Possible penalties include sending players to a penalty box (during which time opposing jammers score for opposing skaters in the penalty box when they score their first point in each pass) and expulsion of players. A skater goes to the penalty box for 1 minute immediately upon incurring a major penalty, or after accumulating 4 minor penalties.”
Mini Red picked up on everything about this game pretty darn fast. I was a little delayed since my ADD had me trying to watch too much including the crowd. By the end we were screaming and yelling for the Cherry Blossom Bombshells who lost to the DC Demon Cats by a mere 6 points in the last round.
As we left Mini Red hugged me and thanked me and said she had a ton of fun and can’t wait to come back. She has now added skates, pads and a helmet to her Christmas wish list. Plus she has picked a name for her Roller Derby persona… Ginger Slap!