Monday, 28 November 2011

No Ticket: Ways to See the Roller Derby World Cup

Just for the record, the following suggestions do not include sneaking in a bathroom window.

For those derby fans who do not have tickets to the 1st Roller Derby World Cup but still want to see some derby action on the day, here are a few suggestions.

1) Scavenge! Tickets are still available for Thursday and Friday through the ticket sales site and the official Roller Derby World Cup site has a waiting list in operation in case tickets get cancelled. For those who want to get on the waiting list for Saturday tickets and weekend passes, email with your name and the days you want to attend. Folks will be notified according to their position on the list if tickets become available.

Also, you could consider checking Kijiji, but this option is not recommended. Go through the official channels and you have your best chance of getting in.

2) Volunteer! Your reward for helping the World Cup happen is getting to watch it. Click here to download volunteer instructions in Word format. You'll get to work with amazing roller derby players from all over the world in exchange for a few hours of your time.

3) Watch it on the Derby News Network! For those of us who can't make it to the venue, DNN is a lifesaver. Free broadcasting with commentary is nothing to sneeze at. Consider donating to DNN to keep it running if you watch - you're saving $37 per day, after all.

However you get there - be it in person or through an internet connection - you'll be a part of derby history. Enjoy the hits and the heart and remember that there is still time to donate to the teams!

Also, as a side-note. Team New Zealand has hereby claimed the status of hottest, butchest team via my Comments section. I look forward to seeing the proof!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Elle Grande LOCO Tournament: A Family Affair

MID-JAM EXCITEMENT: Photo Credit Heather Manners
This past weekend, LOCO's four chapters came together to do something unique in the history of the franchise. Players from London, Kitchener,. Stratford and Brantford were sorted into three teams, the Hot Chihuahuas, the Chupacabras and the Stuffed Pinatas and played for our own golden boot.
Adrienne Balboa's hot pants
ask a crucial question
Photo credit: Natalie Buragina

Part of what was so brilliant about this event was the mixing of players - women who have briefly seen each other at practices got to depend on each other on the track and that's a pretty difficult bonding experience to top. It also meant that one city with a bigger pool of players didn't get a stacked deck of experienced derby girls. Every team had a chance of winning this tournament. LOCO put into practice what it preaches: equal derby opportunity for all.

Though I missed it because I was sick, I'm fascinated by what an event like this means for a family like LOCO. What started off just over two years ago has grown to include four healthy chapters in four cities and it's still growing. Alumni who have since moved on to contact leagues returned to play with the people who taught them to skate. It very literally brought all sorts of women together this weekend to play low-contact derby without sacrificing any of what makes roller derby amazing. This is what low-contact, high-strategy roller derby looks like. It's fun to play and fun to watch and it isn't going away.

It's natural that as roller derby spreads, it's going to change, it's going to grow amazing off-shoots like Derby Lite and LOCO. These variations are extensions and wonderful complications of what roller derby can mean. At its heart, it's the love of the game, the screech of quad skates on a sharp stop, the amazing community. But beyond that, it can be about anything the players - those beautiful, strong, committed players - want it to be.

I'm so, so proud of the players, refs and volunteers associated with the extended LOCO family. They have added a unique chapter to the history of the franchise and they did it while being watched by family and friends. They are passionate and generous and fuck, can some of these people skate.

The LOCO Rainbow: Photo credit Heather Manners

Monday, 21 November 2011

Research on Wheels: Not Just for Sexy Derby Librarians

From the DC Rollergirls
Recently, I received a really useful comment on a post. I had used a logo from the DC Rollergirls in the course of a discussion on highly feminized derby imagery. A former player from the league rightly pointed out that the logo wasn't necessarily the limit of the league's gender representation. And she was totally right.

Blogging about derby well requires going beyond Google. Though searching for 'roller derby' and shifting through image results is a good start for getting a sense of what's out there, it doesn't allow you as a blogger (or a derby fan) the chance to really get to know a league - its history, its personality, its players. Leagues almost always have web-based sources for information, ranging from Facebook pages, to forums, to Tumblrs, to extensive league websites. Players often blog themselves. Local newspapers may have featured them as well. There's a lot to see for those who care to look, I've learned.

Since that comment, I've tried to focus on getting to know the teams I've mentioned here. So, with much admiration, I'd like to introduce you to the DC Rollergirls. Formed in 2006, the league is Washington, DC's only all-female flat-track league. They are members of WFTDA, to boot.  They have three home teams - the Cherry Blossom Bombshells, the DC Demon Cats and Scare Force One. They also have a travel-team, the DC All-Stars. They also have the Majority Whips, though that team doesn't have an assigned page at the moment. They also have a really impressive number of refs - the most I've seen listed for a league their size.

A non-profit league, the  DC Rollergirls have been featured in the Washington Examiner and works with charitable causes like Bread for the City. They are currently ranked 11th in WTFDA's East division, between Maine Roller Derby and Suburbia Roller Derby out of Westchester County, New York. 11th place is no slouch when your division includes teams like Gotham Girls, Montreal, and Charm City.

So, if you're in Washington, check out these ladies. They're capital.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Going Butch: Roller Derby World Cup Edition -- Part Four

At long last, this is the final post in our four-part series on roller derby and butch identity. Today, we're showcasing rad butch and otherwise awesome women coming to represent their countries in the first Roller Derby World Cup. As mentioned previously, these players may not necessarily identify as butch. But they do look great. If anyone wants to be taken down, let me know!

After looking at the first alphabetical half of the contenders on Thursday, today, we're starting with France.

From Team France's site
Team France: Even though Team France does not yet have all of its team members extensively profiled, this was still a hard decision. But #HK13, Truck Off Pooky is my choice from this team. Team France showed a great sense of humour, skewering French stereotypes through its team photos. Truck Off Pooky, aside from rocking a sweet hat and mustache in her promo shot, has a great cropped hairstyle and a distinctive tattoo arm sleeve. Truck Off Pooky multi-tasks as a jammer, blocker and pivot for the Paris Roller Girls.

From Team Germany's site
Team Germany: This team was another tough choice. Looking tough, talented and frankly splendidly attractive, this is a hell of a team. My choice from the German team is #66 BamBule. With tattoos, gorgeous piercings, dramatic hair and glasses, BamBule is coming for Toronto. Details on this skater are a bit hard to come by, despite GoogleTranslate's best efforts. BamBule plays for  Bear City Roller Derby in Berlin and if I see her in person at the World Cup, I might actually pass out.

From Team Ireland's FB page
Team Ireland: #1000 Canadian Psycho is my choice from the team coming from my mother's hereditary homeland. It's not just because she's Canadian and it's not just because she's holding an axe. Skating for GTAR in Toronto, Canada, Canadian Psycho is one of the Derby Debutantes.  She is clearly hotter than Christian Bale and rocks a short hair-cut and a blood spatter far better as well. We'll see her in Toronto!

From New Zealand's FB page

Team New Zealand: New Zealand's Facebook page and Tumblr do not yet currently have pics of individual players, so here's a shot of their sweet logo.  It's not exactly butch, but it is awesome. If anyone can point me towards pictures of players, let me know! I'll keep an eye on Team New Zealand's sites just in case!

From Team Scotland's FB Page
Team Scotland: I have a soft spot for Scotland. And even if I didn't, it would still be a great-looking team. My pick from this fine bunch is #42 Alma Geddon, who is rocking the short hair in her promo pic. Alma Geddon skates for the Auld Reekie Rollergirls, both on the home-team Leithal Weapons and the all-star travel team, Twisted Thistles in Edinburgh.

Team Sweden: My room-mate joked that, of course, all of the Swedish players would be attractive. Naturally, she was right. But I picked Swede Hurt, who has played all over the U.S., including a final stint for Gotham Girls before heading to her current spot playing for Crime City Rollers in Malmรถ. Swede Hurt is the head coach for Team Sweden and gets my choice because of the sheer amount of swagger in her promo shot.

Team USA: Let's be frank - coming from a country with so many amazing roller derby teams, Team USA is a powerhouse. And they look good. My pick from this team is #90 mph Little A from the Tampa Bay Derby Darlin's. Sporting a great cropped 'do and some piercings, Little A plays for both the Black Widows and the all-star travel team, the Tampa Tantrums, of which she is co-captain. Though you can't see it here, she has a totally sweet arm tattoo.

Finally, the absolutely hottest people involved in the World Cup in December are the people who sponsor teams. These players cannot shoulder the financial burden of making it to the World Cup without you. Tomorrow, I am going to randomly select a team to donate money to, because they all need it. Again, this is the Blood and Thunder hub for all of the teams' donation and merch pages. Use it! 

Well, that's all the creeping I'm doing today. Check back on Monday for a special on the DC Rollergirls and why when blogging about roller derby, you need to do your research!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Going Butch: Roller Derby World Cup Edition -- Part Three

Today's entry is our third installment in what ended up being a four-part series about butch identity and roller derby. I'm going to pick out players from World Cup teams who, in their promo material, look rather dapper. These women may not necessarily identify as butch, but fans who appreciate short hair, tattoos, and  badass women will know who to cheer for at the World Cup this December. Today, I'll pick out players from half of the World Cup teams. Look for the second half on Saturday. We'll return to our regular posting on Monday with a feature on the DC Rollergirls.

If any players would prefer to be taken off my list, let me know! Extra special thanks to the team pages, Blood and Thunder and the Derby News Network for empowering my creeping!
From Team Argentina's Facebook page

Team Argentina: Let's be frank: Argentina is a glamorous team. Therefore my pick from them is based pretty much on sweet tattoos. #9 White Rabbit has awesome ink, featuring Jessica Rabbit and Betty Boop. She may be a long-haired bunny (not unlike an angora), but any derby fan would be happy to fawn over her tats.

From the CARD site
Team Australia: My pick from this fabulous team is #58 Dodge 'n Bolt. Her sweet haircut and great smile are enough to catch the heart and mind of any rollerfan. Coming from Coastal Assassins Roller Derby along the Sunshine Coast of Australia, she's playing for the national team come December.

From the Team Brasil site
Team Brasil: Brasil featured several awesome short-haired players, but I have to give my pick to #7 Lobster from the Capital City Derby Dolls in Ottawa. Though she plays in Canada, her heart is clearly in Brasil. And who could refuse that grr-face? So long as pinching isn't a major penalty, she should do great this year.

From the Montreal Roller Derby site
Team Canada: Oh, Canada. So many rad butch options on my nation's team. However, there can only be one, so my pick is #3X Smack Daddy from Montreal Roller Derby. Smack plays on Montreal's travel team, New Skids on the Block and wears a mustache with panache. Watch out for the paddle.

From Team England's site

Team England: Wow. This team's roster looks amazing and made my choice pretty darn difficult. My pick for England is #16 Violet Attack from the Birmingham Blitz Dames. Within the league, she plays for the Sirens. Her mohawk alone could be enough to make a fan switch patriotic allegiance. (Sorry, Canada!)

From Team Finaland's site
Team Finland: Finland has the best hair in roller derby. You heard it here first. Picking one player was a wrench, but #54 The Blizzard was my final choice, because you gotta have blue hair. Currently living in England, The Blizzard plays for Bristol Roller Derby, of which she is a founding member.

Ultimately, if you want to see these ladies in December, donate to their teams. Almost every World Cup team has a Paypal account or a similarly easy way of donating set up for your use (just click on the team names above to get to their sites!). As I've said before, getting to the World Cup is not cheap. These players deserve your support. After all it's no good waiting to see sweet derby action if the team couldn't pay for flights. Skip on your latte today and put that fiver to the team of your choice. Click here for Blood and Thunder's list of fundraising and merch pages!

Check back on Saturday for the second half of my feature on World Cup players. New Zealand, I'm coming for you!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Going Butch: Keeping Roller Derby Dapper -- Part Two

Last week, I posted about how leagues can make themselves more welcoming to butch players. Today, I'll make some suggestions for keeping your fine butch self styling on the track. Also, I've included pictures of cute girls.

Notes: pics have mostly been taken from DapperQ, which is a fabulous site.


Clothes do not make the butch - confidence and swagger do, but clothes can certainly help. Keeping in mind that you're probably wearing a team uniform, you can still keep yourself dapper. If your team uniform includes both top and bottom - unlike, say, a team shirt with whatever you like south of your navel - try to look for more masculine cuts. If your team wears red hot-pants, see if you can find red shorts. If your team wears tank tops, consider switching it for a vest or a collared shirt, or wearing a collared shirt underneath a team shirt. So long as you match the colour and the font of your name and number, you'll still fit in with your team and maintain your identity on the track.

If so long as you wear the team shirt, you can wear what pants you like, consider longer shorts. With these, cut, collar, and pattern can really bring out your dandy side. Consider pin-stripes or pairing them with suspenders in your team colours. So long as your name and number are visible, you're golden
From DapperQ


Personally, my favourite butch accessory is the tie. You'll want to depend on your own common sense and perhaps check in with your health and safety committee to see whether you can incorporate a neck-tie into your boutfit. Alternately, consider tucking the tie into your team shirt or the bowtie. Geeky yet classy, the bowtie signals butch confidence and a sense of humour without leaving any material dangling to get caught on something during a jam. Tips for tying a bowtie are here!

If there's any room in your shorts for back pockets, consider a well-tucked hanky. You'll want to keep it from falling on the track and getting under someone's wheels, however. Consider taping that sucker in. You'll also want to consider the hanky code, lest you give another player the wrong idea.
From DapperQ

Wrist cuffs! Bring attention to your hot fore-arms with cuffs and bracelets pushed up past your wrist guards. You'll want to be sure you don't mind getting them banged up - unless you like your leather cuffs thoroughly worn, keep them at home.

Derby Names

If you haven't already chosen your name, consider how a derby name can reinforce your butch identity. Not every player has to be a Beyonslay (though that is a damn fine name). Consider butch celebrities you can honour with your name. At the time of this post being written, k.d. fang isn't taken. Rachel MadCow, WandaSykesYouOut, Amy RayGun, Jenny ShimmiesYou, and Alison Wreckdel are all free, too. You saw them here first.

Ultimately, butch identity is a beautiful, powerful thing. Derby deserves more of it and the butch women who love derby deserve to feel able to represent themselves. It's amazing what a tie can do for a girl or a boi.

Coming up next Thursday: a post about cute derby players looking dapper, so you know which teams to throw your helmet panties at once the World Cup starts.

From DapperQ, Photo Credit: DJ Vito Fun

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Going Butch: Roller Derby for the Happily Non-femme -- Part One

DC Rollergirls Logo
Generally, roller derby features a hyper-femininity without the passivity that society often associates with being feminine. Instead, derby girls are commonly pictured as stereotypically sexy and feminine in addition to being born ass-kickers. There are fishnets and booty shorts to go with that black-eye, we assure potential buyers of tickets to bouts.

Of course, there is an argument to be made that the kind of aggression that derby is often marketed to have doesn't, in fact, break through gender stereotypes, but retreads how we conceive of female aggression, namely in terms of the cat-fight. That isn't actually my main point today, but the problems presented by the popular conception of derby as ultra-femme aggression affect something close to my heart, specifically that it can create an environment unwelcoming to butch women.

I'm writing this post today partially in response to the fact that my blog stats page informed me that someone Googled "roller derby butch" and ended up on my blog.  I searched it myself to see what was out there. To be clear: there aren't a whole lot of relevant results for that search, in part because derby is not often marketed as being friendly to butch women.

How then, can leagues work on ensuring that women who don't go in for knee socks can still feel welcome in their local derby league? I have three suggestions.

If you have the credit info for this, let me know!
1) Stop relying on the pin-up. Derby's love affair with the retro fun of pin-up photography is fun, but it's not all we are. As a league, as a producer of posters, bout guides, team logos, websites, etc, try harder to depict derby in more diverse ways - there are so many different ways of being a woman and cuban heel stockings don't define all of them. Our imagery tells prospective players whether or not they are likely to be welcome in our league. Is your marketing welcoming to butch women?

2) Explore what falls outside stereotypical femininity. This is not to say that we have to give up being femme on the track. Hot pants are fun and I enjoy when my team-mates rock them.  But you don't need to be wearing glitter make-up to skate in a jam. Support your fellow players who don't go for stereotypically feminine wear. What's empowering for you might be stifling for them. As a team-member, consider how your team's uniforms, logo, and brand may be saying, "No bois allowed".

3) Market directly to butch women. Derby and diversity can go hand in hand - the excitement of derby league involvement in Pride Parades is proof of that. In Toronto, we even have the yearly Clam Slam - an all-queer derby extravaganza. This is not to say that a queer woman is necessarily a butch woman or vice versa. But putting up a poster indicating that you accept *all* women in your league in spaces that support butch women (such as your local queer bar or a meeting space for folks who don't go in for gender normativity) is a good step toward making your league more friendly to butch players and ultimately stronger for that diversity.

By the amazing Cristy C. Road for Bitch Magazine, 2005
On Monday, look for Part Two of this post, a more in-depth discussion of suggestions for butch players who still want action on the track while being themselves. There should also be a Part Three featuring amazing butch players and role models in Canada and farther afield who I may or may not have crushes on.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Wheeling in Winter: The Roller Derby Off-Season

With November well underway, it's a time that derby starts to go dormant for the year in some countries. With WFTDA Championships coming up next week, derby girls are having their last hurrahs until spring. Season-ender parties and final bouts are popping up and would-be fresh meat in bigger cities are likely being told to wait for next spring's training camp.The Winter season, at least in Canada, is time for derby folks to practice, cross-train and have visions of spring bouts dance in their heads.

But keeping motivated is essential. For players who find being without bouts to look forward to hard on their derby dedication, the gym and skate nights at the local roller rink are not your only option.

Many recreational leagues don't have down-time: experienced players can volunteer their time as trainers and new skaters can always learn something - rec leagues often feature very experienced skaters who, due to injury, availability, or preference, have decided to skate recreationally. Low-contact leagues also emphasize strategy and positional blocking, since checking is out of the equation: it's a useful way of thinking about the game we love and it will improve your performance come spring. Refs are always needed, of course, and many rec leagues play and practice all year. Consider learning something new from your derby sisters on the other side of the rink. Volunteering your time (and likely being bought a drink afterwards) is something you can look forward to.

But what are your other options? Outdoor skating on ice is a kind of cross-training that will keep you  engaged (and frequently features hot chocolate), but wearing your knee pads is essential unless you fancy limping away from the rink as I did last year. Depending on your snow-fall, outdoor skating on your quads is a possibility, but it's important to remember that drivers may have less control on the road, again depending on the weather conditions in your area. Additionally, drivers may not be expecting skaters on the road - keep it on the bike paths.

Be sure to keep in contact with your fellow league-members. Other derby players will keep you excited as the days get shorter. Chances are that you came to the game for the challenge and the company: keep both part of your winter derby experience and you'll be ready for spring.