Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
Seanan McGuire

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In which Seanan spends a day at the ROLLER DERBY.

My friend Michael is a roller derby referee. Women's flat track derby, to be specific (so if you're thinking Whip It right now, you have the wrong form of the right sport). This past weekend was the Bay of Reckoning West Region play-offs, right here in the Bay Area, and he was up from Southern California to cheer his girls (the Angel City Derby Girls) on. After a great deal of polite wheedling on his part, I agreed to come out for part of Saturday, if I could make word count.

I made word count.

The Bay of Reckoning was being held in Richmond, which is a reasonable drive from my house. I put on a green Wicked Girls shirt and a metric ass-ton of spray glitter (YAY SPRAY GLITTER), grabbed my cane, and hitched a ride over with Mom, who elected not to stay for the fun. Then I went hobbling over (ankle still) to the door, to see if they had the wristband that Michael had promised me.

They did not. But they did have a notation that I was supposed to receive one, and as Michael's team was on the track at the time, they got me all signed in, wristbanded, and ready to go. One of the girls at the door actually recognized my name, and got very excited, because she loved the Toby books (this will matter later). With distant cheers and the sound of skates rattling over tile to lure me on, I dove into the cavernous depths of the warehouse-like building.

Michael called as I was reaching the bleachers. The bout had reached halftime, and he was heading for the door to meet me. "I'm under the bleachers."

"Stay there."

He found me, after a bit of comedic misinterpretation, and we made our way to where Rachel from Australia was saving our seats. Yay, Rachel! Rachel had Tim-Tams, and wasn't too dismayed when I informed her that I was the Princess of the Kingdom of Poison and Flame. Rachel is awesome.

It's difficult to describe what makes roller derby so awesome, beyond the fact that it's not only a great community, but it's a real, vibrant, athletic, female-dominated sport. You can't watch derby girls slamming around the track and think that it's faked; they're too obviously working their asses off. Angel City lost their bout, but not until after they'd managed some amazing skating. They were followed by Rat City vs. Sacred City (Seattle vs. Sacramento), which might have been a friendly bout, had one of the Rat City jammers not been knocked down, hard, in the very first jam. She hit her head on the floor, and sat out most of the half. And Rat City was pissed. They handed Sacred City their asses on a plate. It was awesome.

(If you skate for Sacred City, please don't kill me. It was a great match. But bouncing Ohno's head off the floor sort of pissed Rat City off, and anger is fun to watch.)

The headline bout of the night was B.A.D. Girls vs. the Denver Mile-High Club. At the end of the first half, B.A.D. was leading, to the point that people were predicting a B.A.D. Girls/Oly Rollers final. By the end of the second half, a few power jams (mostly by Francie Pants, who used to be an Olympic-level ice hockey player) had put Denver in the winner's circle. There was screaming, there was flailing, there was some incredible skating, and I loved every minute.

Roller derby is a world unto itself. There was a merchandise hall set up, with strange, lovely stalls (I bought a T-shirt) and a few food vendors (I bought a dozen cupcakes for our section of the stands. Favorite moment:

"Do you want a cupcake?"
"I'm gluten-free."
"So are the chocolate ones."


People in giant felt vagina costumes danced up and down the aisles, as did someone in a giant felt shocker costume (if you don't know what the shocker is, don't Google it at work). There was a pseudo-flash mob of referee dance moves. Skaters were everywhere, and the rules said that if you got a derby girl in your lap, you had to throw her back.

It was awesome.

As Michael and I were heading out, I spotted the girl from the front desk who'd recognized my name, and managed to catch up to her to ask which books she liked best. She confirmed Toby. When Michael took me home, I grabbed and signed a couple of Toby books for her, since he was going back Sunday and I wasn't.* And then I fell into bed, and dreamed of derby.

Women's flat track roller derby is fabulous. If there's a league near you, you should try to catch a match or two. There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday night than watching an athlete in her prime make an apex jump during a power jam, after running on roller skates.

Life is good.

(*Yes, she got her books, because Michael is awesome.)
Tags: good things, having a life, in the wild, social life, where's seanan
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