Marina and I headed to Torrance last night to watch the Beach Cities team, a roller derby group my buddy Mindy is associated with. My perceptions of the sport are dominated by what I saw on TV growing up: super-theatrical roller skating on a banked track, girl-on-girl fights, whipping a sleek jammer around (or under) the opposing team, and gals being flipped over the track railing by hip-blocks. It was like Professional Wrestling for tough gals.
And it was a bit subversive back then. The old Roller Derby had all the camp and theatrics. But look deeper and you saw women getting aggressively physical with each other. Pushing, jamming, showing 70s Middle America in-your-face aggression. By women. You didn’t see that kind of thing back then except in tough neighborhoods. It wasn’t appropriate. And this stuff was getting broadcast nationally on a Saturday afternoon. Talk about changing social perceptions.
The current sport isn’t that. It’s still got campy elements — the names, the makeup choices. And there’s still aggression. But it’s not over the top act-out like the old 70s stuff. Now it’s women in costumes competing in a tough sport. A bit less entertaining but refreshing, honest female competition.
We had a great time. Sloppy and hard to follow and real. Plus it’s a community level sport — just one where women , big or small, engage in a level of physical contact that is still rare for women in our society.
I’d hate to skate against this member of the San Diego team (even if I could skate).
The Beach Cities bench
Not sure of her job but I love the style sense.
All in all, an evening of good clean fun. And the home team kicked butt — Go Beach Cities!