My friends Amy and Dave and I went to go see the playoffs of the Baltimore (Charm City) roller derby teams last night. So I could experience a roller derby.
Have you ever seen it on TV? This was and was not like that. This was more professional and strategic. Always in the TV shows the lead character had joined a roller derby team in order to find out who murdered who, and on the rink there was some personal vendetta going on, and violence. Here in the real world, there was no personal vendetta, and just an occasional take out of someone to help make way for the jammer to get through (kindof like the running back). There were tattoos and face paint on some of the women, and some fun personal costume items added to the uniform, but Dave said it was far less colorful than it used to be. Perhaps because it was the playoffs.
But to sum the evening: If I had a choice between being a roller derby girl and a ballerina (see last week’s post), I think I would be a roller derby girl. I secretly have quite a competitive and somewhat aggressive streak to me. I could so be the jammer, the person who has to get by all the other team members on the rink to score points. I’d be like Grrrcia, a scrappy young lady who was much tinier than the blockers, but who would just weasel/squirm/power her way through – she’d persevere. I wish I could also be like Nuckin’ Futz, who was so agile that she’d feint to the left, and then pass the blockers on the right. She was incredible. I don’t think I could be like #1001, who was a big woman and didn’t have speed or stamina, but basically would just barrel through.
Of course, I’d have to learn to roller skate well enough to be able to turn on a dime.
It was very physical, and lots of falling as people would get caught up in tangles.
There were also a lot of women being sent to the penalty box – but I didn’t know enough about the game to figure out why. I did learn the basics though. The goal for the women is to be fast, tough, and strategic. One woman in each 5-person team on the rink is called the jammer, i.e., someone who has to jam their way through the opposite pack to score points. The others block and “pivot” to assist. There are rules, like no shoving, but apparently you only get the penalty box if it has a major affect on the opposite team. Did I mention earlier that there were a lot of women being sent to the penalty box?
The game had its complications – you could pass your jammer marker (a cover of your helmet that has a star on it) to another member of the team if you got stuck. Also the lead jammer could call timeouts if it looked like the other team’s jammer was going to score points. But all in all, I soon got the gist of the game, with Dave’s help especially.
video to go here as soon as I can figure out how.
What else…. Apparently in the past there would be crazy halftime shows, like featuring kids who went to circus school. But none this time. This time people broke and went for food at various tables – like pulled pork, pizza, or pies. It was all laid back and casual.
All in all, I won’t make a habit out of going – but I think I would like to go again. Not to the level of going to Charm School – which is a training session to learn what it means to be a roller girl, no experienced required. I’d have to be a better roller skater first. And probably in better shape.
That’s it. Except that, in comparison, earlier this week I did something else that was new but a little more “sweet.” I served as a volunteer on the White House lawn for the annual White House Easter Egg roll. I helped an unknown number of kids (40+?) build boats out of styrofoam, aluminum foil, and popsicle sticks (not very environmentally friendly at all), while other volunteers helped the kids float the boats on water. The work was nonstop, and I had no chance to wander on the White House grounds except once. So I didn’t see the president or first family (though they were there at least part of the day). But I did see the minions. And Michelle Obama’s organic garden. I was content.