Yes, we read up on it and yes, we met them at practice the other week but nothing really prepared us for the fiery spectacle that was London Rockin' Rollers versus the Glasgow Irn Bruisers at York Hall on Saturday afternoon.
The grand old boxing hall was awash with Rollerbillies, Rockin Roller groupies and team mates, big hair, tattoos, bovver boots, protective clothing, mums and dads, small children and us all focusing on the fearsome, glamour gals sailing round on skates dressed to the nines in cheeky customised uniforms and intimidatory horror show make up letting loose occasional battle cries. Lights, music and plenty of yelling - the excitement was pure rock and roll and practically in your lap, if a roller girl went flying off track or happened to be practising falling over, with consummate clattering skill.
A brief demo kicked off proceedings so that roller derby virgins had a hope of understanding what the hell was going on. There's a little more to it than skating hard and fast and pushing people over (no elbows! no tripping!) although, fundamentally, with a little strategic team work thrown in, that's about the size of it.
And it has to be seen to be believed. Although the home side trailed all the way, they fought hard and every time a Rockin Roller jammer darted from the back of the pack to a victorious dodge ahead of the rest, the crowd went wild. There were some spectacular wipeouts, frilly knickers, super speed skating and a battle royale for those vital points. With the final score 83 to 106, the Irn Bruisers had the bout in their bags but our Rockin' Rollers' style and flair put them a nose ahead in the dazzling derby darling stakes.
Words by "Lunatic" Lindsey. Photography by "Knock 'em Out" Natalie.
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