This weekend, I went to my first roller derby match to watch four teams from the London Roller Girls league battle it out. Harbour Grudges played Ultra Violent Femmes and Steam Rollers took on the Suffra Jets.
Before Saturday, my only knowledge of roller derby was from watching Whip It; a film starring and directed by Drew Barrymore about an American roller derby league.
I saw that film a year ago and couldn’t quite remember the rules. So to begin with, I wasn’t really sure what was going on – although I was still quite entertained. But thanks to a knowledgeable roller derby fan and the booklet we were given on entry, I soon understood the basics of the game: The two jammers (girls with stars on their helmets!) had to break through the pack to score points while the rest of the team tried to either block the opponent’s jammer, or help theirs get through.
Soon we were getting into it just as much as the hardcore roller derby fans. The speed and skating skills of these girls is amazing – not to mention how tough they are. Being pushed around is a part of the game – plus you need to do a lot of blocking and nudging to get through or stop someone else doing so. There were lots of falls onto the hard concrete floor, but the players just got up and skated away. I can only imagine what a crumpled mess I’d be by the end of a bout!
Kneepads, gumshields and hotpants seem to be pretty essential gear for a roller derby match. If you can dye your hair and get a couple of tattoos, all the better!
Watching the players whizz round and seeing the excitement of the crowd almost made me want to sign up but I think I’ll stick to roller disco for now. I’ll definitely be back to watch more roller derby though.
The next London Rollergirls bout is at Earls Court Brompton Centre on 5 March.
See more roller derby action in the video below:
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