Rockin’ Roller Derby

A lot of my friends talk up roller derby, and some of their wives are derby dames, so I’ve been meaning to check out a roller derby bout for some time. When some local friends decided we should all hit the local Peoria Push Derby Dames’ opening night, we were all in.

They opened the night with a bout for rookie skaters to get them some experience. We were able to pick up on some of the rules, but a few things that went on were still a little confusing. Fortunately my friends know skater Har V. Wall Breaker, and she stopped by to fill in the gaps and explain some of the strategy involved.

For only ten bucks a ticket, we had a good time. Things were a lot tamer than I expected, but the ladies skated hard and, given it’s an amateur event, we knew better than to expect bloody beatdowns. They put on a good show and they do a lot of charity work, so we were happy to support them.

Jammers Race

The jammers circle the track

I would have liked to see more showmanship, though. The  skaters—and even the refs—seemed to build personas around their characters, but we saw very little of that on the track. Only two or three of them did anything more than just skate around during the introductions, and we saw very little taunting or celebrating during races to help get the crowd excited. Most of the crowd left before the event was over, and the most excited audience members appeared to be friends and family members of the skaters.

Part of the problem may have been it wasn’t clear that the black vs white match was for rookies. Very little action went down during that bout, and if Har V. hadn’t explained to us we were seeing rookies first, we wouldn’t have known. The main event was a lot more active, but it’s hard to say how many people stuck around that long.

Ready to Block

A Polka Bot readies herself as the jammers come around

I also don’t understand why they didn’t turn all the lights on. The event took place in an exhibition hall separate from the main Civic Center arena, and with only half the lights on, there was less light than in a high school basketball game. I took a few hundred pictures last night, but most are garbage. Even the ten I posted are questionable. I can’t imagine anyone with a cell phone camera shot anything remotely interesting on the track, and I would bet even the guy with the $2000 lens across the arena from me struggled.

A word of advice to the organizers: if you want word of mouth to help fill seats, make sure we know what’s going on and that we can see everything. Let us take good pictures we can post to blogs and social networking sites or send to our friends. Get us excited, make it easy to share that excitement, and you’ll get more attention.

Again, though, it was good entertainment for only ten bucks. I’d like to go back and see them again, especially when they get a chance to compete in the actual arena later this year.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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