Part 2 (read part 1 here)
In all the games we played there were people who were much better skaters but we were able to put our knowledge of tactics into use quickly enough to still be helpful in whatever positions we were playing. I tried jamming a couple of times, usually my comfort zone but just so darn tricky against these seasoned players. Helen did a great job of blocking and seemed totally at ease on track.
We bonded with our fellow Brits early on as we gathered in a hotel room to stitch names and numbers onto our Team GB outfits (totally 90s Spice Girl attire). We had needles but not enough cotton, luckily dental floss worked a treat. Tough and minty fresh. We met some mega babes that night from across the UK derby scene – great players from London Rollergirls, London Rockin’ Rollers, Dolly Rockit Rollers, Tiger Bay Brawlers and the Norfolk Brawds, to name but a few. Helen and I played in two Team GB bouts during the five days we were there; first against The Colonies (we lost) and then against The Scandinavians (we won!). It was all a great big super-duper steep and sweaty learning curve.
We took three classes during the entirety of our stay: jam skating with Quadzilla, jumps and turns with Dirty Debra Harry and jamming skills with Lulu Demon. These classes were pretty intense but had a really nice atmosphere – two hours of great coaching from some real ‘skillers’ of the roller derby universe. NB: You weren’t allowed to queue up for these until a specific time beforehand as it blocked the thoroughfare. So, naturally, we developed a good method involving synchronised watches and slow walks up and down the corridor in generally the right area – at about the right time – to ensure a spot when the queue opened!
In addition to classes there were top-level bouts to watch, hourly scrims to participate in and plenty of stalls to part you and your dollar. The best of all the bouts was the much-hyped ‘Team Vagine vs The Caulksuckers’; an annual grudge-match featuring tonnes of the world’s best female derby players. Team Vagine are the US roller derby team of the Vagine Regime – an international community of proud queer roller derby folk. The Caulksuckers are their straight opponents (just for the game!) The atmosphere was incredible, all done with a jokey competitiveness and in such a fun spirit. The chanting and cheerleading from both teams was lively, mucky and hilarious. The VR are known for their great parties and ‘fabulous gayness’, as well as for highlighting more serious LGBT issues around the globe. Roller derby is already such an open, warm and accepting sport but these guys do a lot to promote more pride and acceptance both in the roller derby community and in the wider world. Check them out here for more details: https://facebook.com/vagtastic
All in all, our five days at RollerCon were an absolute blast. By the end we were bruised, battered and totally knackered but it was worth it. We probably did less skating than we intended to but there was so much else to do: such a party atmosphere! There were parties in the penthouse, pool parties, karaoke parties, parties in elevators and lots of other Vegas-y party-razzmatazz to enjoy. So many joyful pursuits to enjoy aside from the actual game! But ultimately, it always came back to the sport – this fairly small, underground, unknown-to-many sport that somehow manages to inspire thousands each year to trek to a hotel complex in the middle of the desert at the height of summer. But I get it. We all get it. It might still be a pretty niche sport but it feels like a whole world when you’re there together, all with the same shared passion and all on the same marvellous wavelength.
VIVE LA ROLLERCON!
Ray Fears (centre) went and got herself a black-eye… this was our make-up tribute!