I went to my first Roller Derby match last weekend. It was a double-header-- the Women of Mass Destruction vs. The Angels of Death, followed by the Legion of Zoom vs. the PrissKilla Presleys. I expected it to be campy and entertaining, which it was, but what I didn't expect was to learn that this was a serious sport, which it definitely is. Incidentally, my commencement ceremony was supposed to be that night... but, hey, if you're going to miss getting "hooded" for your PhD, what better thing to be doing instead than sitting at the Roller Derby!
It took me about 45 minutes to figure out the nuances of Roller Derby ("pivots" have the stripes on their helmets, "jammers" have the stars, and only the "lead jammer" can call off a jam), but once I understood the basics, I was hooked. These women are no-joke athletes. The bouts consist of two 20-minute rounds, and this is a full-contact sport. During the second bout, my friends and I sat in the "suicide seating" (so-named because spectators sit very close to the action on the "curve" of the rink, and are in danger of being mauled by Derby girls if they spill outside of the regulation field of play, which they often do).
Of course, it is also campy. All of the players have alter-egos (one of my friends is named Cleopatra Bones, other sobriquets include Smashimi, Ragin' Caucasian, Lynn Sanity, Wheelie Wonka, etc.). And, yes, they do dress rather provocatively. There's a slightly profane but otherwise hilarious MC who calls the action and keeps the crowd going. You can check it all out at the Memphis Roller Derby league site. The Derby girls come from all walks of life-- college kids, moms, professionals. And the teams have even adopted little kids as "mascots," whose job it is to skate around during the breaks wearing the team colors and flying the team flag. Soooo cute.
I encourage you all to find out if you have Roller Derby in your town. You won't be sorry.