Monday, August 29, 2011

roller derby according to

i read this last week and could not help but share. it's all so very true. 

Roller Derby
Some say it reemerged out of necessity. Some say it’s the only remaining sport that hasn’t been infiltrated by The Man. Some say it’s nothing more than fat-girl NASCAR. No matter the theory you subscribe to, roller derby is the shit.

Originally a term used to describe a relay race in 1922, the closest true beginning to the modern sport called roller derby took place in 1935 when Chicago promoter Leo Seltzer came up with an idea to compete with the popularity of dance marathons. Teams of two (one male skater and one female skater) raced to complete 57,000 laps, albeit the only dance they were doing during those 57,000 laps was the pee-pee dance. Tired and losing gross motor control toward the end of a competition, teams often accidentally collided into each other, which gave Leo Seltzer new ideas about how to make roller derby even more exciting: score points and knock down your opponent. It was brilliant! After all, what red-blooded American doesn’t like betting on point spreads or watching people fall on their ass? This was the dawn of roller derby as an all-American sport!
More popular than Jesus, roller derby has died and been resurrected several times throughout history. After the roller derby credibility decline of the late 1970s and early 1980s (aka, derby as a WWF-style soap opera instead of a sport), the sport died its most recent death, and many thought it had forever fallen into the abyss. That was until a group of ladies resurrected the sport in 2001. This was the dawn of a new age in roller derby.

Roller derby has been purported to be the hottest thing on eight wheels since you and your prepubescent friend felt that first tingle in your pinky privates and rode your Big Wheels® to follow a pretty girl on a bike. Yet, modern-day roller derby values integrity (R-E-S-P-E-C-T!), self-sufficiency (hands off, asshole!), community (I know you didn’t just say that to my girl!), athleticism (I’ll snap you in two!), and control (we’re not gonna let you fuck this up!), which echoes the motto of the Women’s Flat track Derby Association (WFTDA), “Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.”, and their conditions of membership, which in part include the requirement that all member leagues be majority skater owned (screw The Man!).
Who’s a roller girl? Stop where you are at any point in your day and look around (okay, unless you’re a monk in a monistary - then you probably won’t see any roller girls, which sucks for you). Roller girls come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and professions. From lawyers to students to professionals and entrepreneurs, a roller girl can be anyone. My favorite roller girl is your mom (cause, yeah, moms participate too). There are over 400 roller derby leagues worldwide, on all major continents (including 78 WFTDA leagues, 6 OSDA leagues, and many more with no affiliation). THE RULES
Modern-day roller derby is real - the hits are real and the bruises are very real - and leagues that are members of the WFTDA participate in flat-track roller derby as a sport (so get out your sports bra - and make it a good one at that!).
Roller derby is a game of points (is there any game that isn’t?). Teams consist of 5 menacing players each on the track at a time (that’s 10 total for you mathletes out there): a pivot who sets the pace of the pack, a jammer who scores 1 point by passing each of the opposing team’s players, and 3 blockers who play offense and defense simultaneously, all the while looking behind themselves as they try to assist their jammer through the pack and keep the other team’s jammer from doing the same. A game is called a bout, and bouts are officiated by referees who enforce rules and safety. But don’t worry your pretty little head one bit - even with rules the action is exciting and the hits are often brutal. 

Alter Egos: Derby Names & Costume Uniforms
Remember playing dress-up as a kid? Wonder Woman? Superman? A great part of derby subculture is centered on alter egos that often come complete with costumed uniforms emphasizing a player or her team’s identity. Each roller girl gets to pick her derby name, typically something witty and often a bastardized version of the name of an already-famous person, real or imaginary.
The author of this article, Cindy Lop-her, has played for two roller derby teams, each with unique uniforms. While skating for her home team, Speed Regime, which has a “totalitarian oppressor” military theme, she has worn camo and bullet belts and used military regalia. While skating for her league’s travel team, the Charm City All Stars, uniforms are more business: sport jerseys in the league colors, various items containing the state flag, face paint, and lots and lots of gold lame and booty shorts, which brings us to…

Another big part of the derby subculture is booty, and big ones at that. After every rookie has skated for several months, she notices a change in her body and the way her clothes fit. Her waist becomes noticeably smaller, while her ass and thighs become substantially bigger. Big booty is celebrated in derby and shown off by the unique, yet wonderful clothing item known as the booty short (not just for Hooters girls or strippers anymore!).
Booty shorts are typically worn over fishnets or some other type of tights to prevent rink rash following a fall, and in many cases the booty shorts exhibit a word or phrase selected by the skater whose ass is prominently displaying directives covered by the result of the First Amendment, such as “STFU” or “FUCK OFF”.

Unlike spending Labor-day weekend remodeling your bathroom, derby is substantially more hardcore DIY. From coaching and providing training plans to running the league business to setting up and putting on bouts for the public, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is done by the skaters, referees, and volunteers of a league. Who said we couldn’t have it all (no matter how utterly labor-intensive or tiring)?

Local Art
Almost by accident, roller derby leagues have served as hubs for local artists, incorporating their works on bout posters, programs, fliers, merchandise, and team and league logos, and this art has become a large part of the culture of roller derby.
Dangle Derby
Back in the day men were not only referees but also derby skaters. Although derby these days is synonymous with fast chicks on hot skates (or is it the other way around?), a quickly-growing trend in the US right now is the upstart of male-derby leagues, often known as dangle derby. Members of dangle derby are often referees, non-skating officials, or volunteers for female derby leagues.

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