Last week I was downtown to see "Friday the 13th", starring Jared Padalecki's pecs, which spend the movie threatening to explode out of his five-sizes-too-small t-shirt, and noticed a number of colorful signs for the Hard Knox Roller Girls' Mardi Brawl season opener. You can see the corner of one above the triceratops:
They advertised two bouts for only fifteen dollars, and I thought, "Hmmm... I've never been to derby, but my understanding is that girls on wheels beat the hell out of each other for a couple hours. That sounds like it might be fun." Fortunately, in this case my inner voices were correct, and derby was awesome.
I invited ten friends. Predictably, only one actually followed through on coming, although a second would have come except that she wasn't directly included on the original email I send that said to forward to anyone else who might want to go, and she was happier to stay at home alone and whine instead about getting the forwarded copy, which I'm certain was terribly fun for her. Everybody has one of those sorts of friends, I'm sure.
(Everybody probably also has a passive aggressive friend like me who poke poke pokes at problems like that, but we're going to pretend I'm perfect and move on.)
We got there right at five when the doors opened, which was good because we got early-bird pricing and also because we got a front row seat. You're also allowed to sit on the floor right around the rim of the track, in the Suicide Seating, but I'm not that brave. We didn't realize there was a home section and an away section, and accidentally sat in the away section, but we will definitely be on the home side next time.
Before the first bout, there was a helpful segment with player demonstrations, to help you understand the game. There are three positions on the team, the jammer, the blockers, and the pivots. The jammer is the girl with the star helmet cover, and there is one for each team. The Hard Knox jammer is seen here:
That's the pivot next to her with the stripe down the middle of her helmet.
Each team has one jammer. When the jam, which is two minutes long, starts the jammers have to get through the pack, and then loop around quickly to lap the pack. The jammer that gets through the pack first is the lead jammer, but the other jammer can overtake her. Once the jammer laps the pack, she is awarded points for each member of the opposing team that she passes. The blockers try to stop her from passing, and the pivots help her get around them. The pivot and the jammer can also swap helmet covers and roles during the jam, so positions can change very quickly.
All of that sounds very straightforward and almost kind of boring when the announcer drones on and the players demonstrate at low speed, but the actual play is kind of like watching hockey. It's very high speed and there is a lot of slamming and checking, but instead of getting smashed into the glass the players going flying off into the suicide seating. This makes it even more fun, because you can watch the annoying girl in front of you who won't stop texting on her damn Blackberry and keeps flipping her hair in the way and think, "God, I hope someone clocks her."
Overall, it's a fun time. The crowd is high energy, people bring their kids, you can tell the players are having a lot of fun even though falling down on concrete, like this:
probably hurts a lot, and they all have cute nicknames, too, even the refs:
If you have derby nearby, you should go. It's fun, and they have nachos.