Girls Get Down And Derby

Girls Get Down And Derby

Roller derby is the marmite of sports: you either love it or you don't. There are no half-measures when it comes to roller derby. Those who love it are obsessed with it. It takes over their lives and the lives of their families. People who don't really couldn't give a shit.

I’m not ashamed to say that I’m in the second group. I know exactly what roller derby is about. I've seen it played and it’s not for me. In trying to be both sexy and sporty, it never really succeeds at being either.

Still, roller derby seems to gaining a bit of a foothold in Dunedin. The “Mid-Winter Brawl” was timed to coincide with Re-Orientation, and by all accounts was a great success. We asked Pina Collider, OrKazzMic, Referend Bear and Bitter Fluff to teach us more about roller derby.

For people who don't know, what is roller derby?
Pina Collider: Roller derby is a sport played on quad skates on a roughly oval-shaped track. Up to five players from each team are on the track at any one time. One player, the “jammer”, who can be identified by a star on her helmet, scores points for her team by passing members of the other team known as blockers.

How much of Roller Derby is aesthetic and how much is athletic?
Bitter Fluff: I think the initial appeal for crowds, and for at least some of the people who get involved, is aesthetic. But once you see a jam, or participate, the athleticism takes over. Our league members train on skates at least two to three times per week. You need to be incredibly fit to skate for an hour.
Referend Bear: It's athletic, but not afraid to keep the fun of the aesthetic. Rollers have nothing to prove to anyone but each other. If they want to do it with assumed names and themed outfits, well, ESPN can take it or leave it.

What is your favourite part of the sport? Why do you play?
OarKazzMic: My favourite part of the sport is lining up on the jammer line, feeling the uncontrollable adrenaline running through my veins, knowing that I have some hungry strong women out there who want to take me down. I’m strict with my training, and I train hard mentally and physically. There’s nothing like arriving on bout day knowing you have done everything possible for the challenge ahead.
Referend Bear: The speed, the chaos, the people. The range of people involved is incredible, and the quality stellar.

What do you say to people who dismiss the sport as “dykes on wheels”? Is this a common misconception?
Pina Collider: People can be very closed-minded. I think a lot of guys can be intimidated by a group of girls who can do something incredibly physical that they can’t do. I don’t get offended by that kind of thing, because I know what roller derby truly is. I’d rather be playing a sport I love with amazing people.
OarKazzMic: Haha awesome. Well, I’ve slapped the ass of every girl in my team, and I haven’t had any girl-on-girl offers yet! Anyway, the most-visited porn section on the internet is “lesbian” so if this was the case I would see this as another positive for our sport…who cares, anything goes.

What role does sexuality play in Roller Derby?
Bitter Fluff: It’s one of our drawcards – we know we look good! We don’t need to pretend we don’t. Some of us wear booty shorts, some wear skirts, some wear stubbies. Everyone is comfortable in what they wear, and it’s functional. I think the confidence we show is the sexiest thing.
Referend Bear:Roller girls have seized control of sex in the game, and get to determine how they use it and to what degree. That said, I guarantee that anybody who shows up to look at the booty shorts and stockings will be screaming at the hits and strategic play by the end of the bout. I sure as hell know I was.
Pina Collider: There’s no denying that roller derby is a sexy sport. A bunch of fit girls on wheels doing what they do best is always going to draw a crowd. I think we live in an amazing time when girls can look good and feel good, while showing off what we train so hard for.

How can people get involved?
Referend Bear: Come to Freshmeat (rookie training), or contact us via our website or Facebook ( and we will find a place for you. All are welcome, though gents trolling will be quickly shown the door.
This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2012.
Posted 4:49pm Sunday 5th August 2012 by Gus Gawn.