Wednesday, 21 September 2011

What's in a Derby Name? Choosing Your Persona

At the risk of passing on whatever Lovecraftian illness I have, which does seem to be aggressive enough to spread itself via blog posts, today we're talking choosing a derby name (more on the derby name as a phenomenon later this week).

Often, new roller derby players have a name in mind before they've tried their skates on. Others have months to find the right one. In both cases, they sometimes end up finding it's already taken by checking the International Rollergirl's Master Roster, (as we all must). When I started out, I was devastated "Bettie Rage" and "Pain Austen" had already been scooped up. Whether you're just starting out considering the name you'll give to your derby life or you've come back to the drawing board, here's one model of picking your name and then some suggestions more generally.

When I started skating, I made a list of names I liked. Being a grad student in the humanities, I went largely for puns related to literature. When the more obvious ones were taken (though "Charlotte Brawn-te" is still free, I think) I got creative. Not every skater uses a pun for her name, but I'm very into puns, so making weak plays on words felt natural to me. In the midst of a brainstorming session (and boy, was there a list of at least fifteen possible names), I thought of "Cthulhu Lemon", riffing on H.P. Lovecraft's "Call of Cthulhu", a cosmic horror story, and LuluLemon, purveyor of expensive yoga gear.
Terrible, Terrible Photoshop by me. Yes, that is a Lemon

In my case, I risked a lot of folks not getting my name or even knowing how to pronounce it. With my stutter, I myself have a lot of trouble with the hard 'C' at the beginning of my derby name. I can admit that this is at least a bit funny. I'm often Lemon for short. These were things I should have considered, though accessibility and pronunciation will matter more or less depending on the player. All in all, I love my name because it's geeky and weird and that's me on or off the track.

Seven Suggestions For Selecting Your Sobriquet

1) For guidance, try picking a theme. Celebrity names are often a go-to (our league has Kat von Damage). Riffs on your real name are also a possibility (hence our Killer Suenami). Do you want it to relate to your hobbies, your work (our own Sewer Princess works for the city), your own personality, or on the flipside, something with nothing to do with your real life at all?
2) Get ideas from friends and family. You'll get some groaners, sure, but they may surprise you.
3) Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm. Have back-ups. There are a lot of derby girls out there and some of them might already have the name you want. Don't just change one letter so you get to be "Betteee Rage". Get creative. Having a great derby name is a point of pride.
4) Consider how the name will shape the expectations of other players. Do you want to seem fast, sly ...homicidal? Consider how it will make *you* feel to be called by a certain name or a shortened version of this name.
5) Check your name out. Is it offensive? Is it misogynistic? Remember this is a representation of you and your league. This is what you might be called while playing for your country at the Roller Derby World Cup, if you're particularly awesome.
6) Consider the implications of your name more directly. If it's a joke, do you care if people get it? Are you willing to explain if necessary? (Warning: this *can* be a bit of a hassle, but it's worth it if you love it.)
7) Check out resources like Rollergirl's Guide to picking your name, SVRG's Ultimate Guide, or Cherry Rockette's guide, which is particularly good for laying out considerations for the Master Roster.

Get your thinking helmets on, ladies.

1 comment:

  1. Glorious read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. I'd also encourage everybody to bookmark this page to your favorite service to assist spread the word. Thanks!

    Kind Regards,

    James Amparan
    Roller Derby Name Generator