Montréal and Washington, DC don’t have much in common. Sure, local Montréal political scandals are starting to rival DC (Neither can hold a candle to Toronto of course) and DC is stepping up its food scene. And while Montréal sent its baseball team to DC, the cities share a surprising passion for an unexpected sport – Roller derby! Yes, roller derby. The Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association, which at last check includes 160 leagues around the globe, has a dedicated following in both Montréal and DC.
After several seasons of missed opportunities, we finally managed to catch a couple of bouts at the DC Armory – home of the DC Rollergirls. At $15 a ticket it is the cheapest fun we’ve had in a long time.
Even if you don’t appreciate the athleticism of the skaters, it‘s hard not to be entertained by the uniforms, clever monikers, and general spectacle. Roller derby provides plenty of entertainment both on and off the track. Part sporting event, part carnival, and part bake sale; it’s difficult not to get caught up in the scene.
To be honest, we went for the sarcasm… but we stayed for the love. Roller derby is FUN!
The action on the track is intense – speed, strategy, and endurance are all on display. Not to mention the ability to hit the floor hard and get right back up. These women are tough!
It took us a while, but we finally began to understand the play and recognize the standout players. We tried to comprehend the evening’s swirl of action ourselves, helped by the play-by-play announcers who are very good at providing color during the bouts. For those, unlike us, who would rather not wing it through their first bout, a woman we dubbed the answer fairy (a skater wearing a question mark on her helmet and wings on her back) circled the floor explaining the rules to anyone who asked.
The Rollergirls are charming. They all work hard on and off the track. Not only do they take their share of hits on the track, they also share the burden of keeping the not-for-profit league going. We admire their inclusiveness, sportsmanship (sportspersonship?), and pure love of the game. Much of the audience consisted of friends and family of the players and several of the sponsors were players’ real job employers. Clearly their enthusiasm for and dedication to the sport is contagious.
This is not your grandmother’s roller derby. So check out your local league. You just might be surprised.
* In DC, the Majority Whips, DC Demoncats, Cherry Blossom Bombshells and Scare Force One square off against one another on December 14th. Happy holidays.