"If you don't walk with me, I will walk alone." -Life of Agony/Underground

Roller_Derby_2012-03-17

When our Saturday evening suddenly became open (after Gallagher suffered a heart attack earlier in the week and cancelled his Oklahoma performance), we decided to go with Plan B and go see a Roller Derby bout for the first time instead.

Like most people, what little I knew about Roller Derby came from watching it on television back in the 1980s. Roller Derbies actually date back to the 1880. although back then they were simply roller skating competitions of speed and endurance. Roller Derby as we know it didn’t evolve until the 40s and 50s. At that time it was a legitimate, competitive sport. By the time I was watching it in Channel 34 back in the 1980s, Roller Derby had evolved into “sports entertainment,” the same classification as modern professional wrestling. There were good guys and bad guys, over the top personas, and predetermined winners.

Sometime around the year 2000, Roller Derby (the non-fake kind) experienced a rebirth. Contemporary Roller Derby is a conglomeration of both old and new styles. From what I gather the sport is prominently female-dominated, although there are male and children leagues out there, too. The women assume characters and derby names (we cheered for “Kitty VonKlobber,” “Sinful Lee” and “Lita-Lita Ho’Beata”) and sport tights and fishnet stockings and tattoos. Long gone are the predetermined outcomes and fake fist fights. Players are not allowed to use their hands, elbows, knees or feet offensively and can only initiate contact from the front. That’s not to say it’s a safe sport; I watched more than one girl go flying off the track after being hip-checked by an opponent.

A bout of Roller Derby consists of two 30 minute periods. These periods are broken up into “jams” that can last up to two minutes in length, or until they are cancelled by the lead “jammer” (the pre-determined player who can score points). Points are awarded by lapping players of the opposing team, so both teams simultaneously play offense and defense. If you are planning on attending a Roller Derby bout for the first time, I suggest you either (a) go with someone who understands the sport, or (b) spend five minutes on the Roller Derby Wikipedia entry learning the rules. Like any other sport, you will have a much more enjoyable time if you understand at least the basics of what’s going on.

Susan and I were both surprised how family-friendly the event was. We initially thought the entry fee was a little high ($15/adult), but kids admission was free, and the drinks and snacks were actually priced much lower than what we had anticipated, so it all kind of balanced out.

The only downside of the evening — and boy, it’s hard to complain about this without coming off like a jerk — was the halftime period, in which the OKC Roller Derby Association shaved people’s heads while collecting donations for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, an organization that raises money for kids with cancer. My problem wasn’t that they were taking donations for sick kids (seriously, who’s against that?), it was that the halftime break was over an hour long, and I was there with two kids, and there was literally nothing else to do other than sit around and watch people get their heads shaved for an hour.

Like I said I am all for raising money for sick kids, but halfway through the head-shaving I had a kid of my own that was fidgeting and another that was bored out of his mind. It was simply too long of a break to keep people’s attention. In the future I hope the organization can work out a system where they can continue to raise money while not taking such a long break in the middle of the bout.

Unfortunately due to the long intermission, the kids had lost interest and halfway through the second period we ended up splitting. Overall we had a really good time at the event and we are planning on returning next month (we’ll also be bringing iPods and/or Nintendo DSes to keep the kids entertained should we encounter another lengthy intermission). The event was much more kid-friendly that we had anticipated (one of Susan’s big concerns) and I would say the event was definitely suitable for all ages.

One last final tidbit; over the weekend I learned that Oklahoma City actually has two separate women’s leagues: Oklahoma City Roller Derby or OKCRD (the bout we attended), and the Oklahoma Victory Dolls Roller Derby or OKVD, a competing league. Both have home bouts on a roughly monthly basis, so we hope to attend one of each in the near future.

Both leagues are looking for local women with roller skating skills of any level to sign up.

Link: Oklahoma City Roller Derby
Link: Oklahoma Victory Dolls Roller Derby
Link: All of my Roller Derby Pictures

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8 Responses to “Oklahoma City Roller Derby”

  1. Mike Warma says:

    > there was literally nothing else to do other than sit around and watch people get their heads shaved for an hour.

    Well. You could have gotten *your* head shaved. Or Mason’s. Or better yet Susan’s. That would have entertained the kids

  2. Mom says:

    I know you’ve already heard how much my mom loved Roller Derby, and she really got into it. I remember her yelling, “Get her, get her!” Quite un-granny like! But we loved watching her watch it. Sure wish she was around to take to one of these. She’d still have a blast.

  3. Brandi Garner says:

    I love that you wrote of your experience at our bout! I’m the charity liaison for the Oklahoma City Roller Derby league and involved in the production of our events and am always curious about what people think of our events. Our St. Baldrick’s event was the first I’ve personally organized for that charity and I agree halftime was too long. Normally our halftimes our brief and we are working on ways to incorporate fun activities for our fans. We’ve also set up a craft table for kids to make posters for their favorite skater that the kids seem to enjoy. Thanks for the write-up and for the suggestions! I hope you’ll come see us again this season – and if you do, come say hello at the charity table! PS – if you sign up for our newsletter (via Facebook page), it often has coupons for discount tickets and our next bout on June 22 is a fan favorite, our Bout Against Breast Cancer!

  4. sarah davis says:

    I am a member if okcrd, and an very plesed you had a great time.
    The bout you attended was our annual St. Baldricks bout. The head shaving is not party of every derby bout, and it is always a long process due to the high number of volunteer shavees.

    check out okcrd.com or like us on Facebook to find out about future bouts!
    Hope to see you at our next bout in June

  5. Mya OH Mya says:

    I’m just now stumbling upon this. We are so happy to hear you had a good time and glad you found it family friendly. Sometimes during the summer we get bouncy houses for the kids outside, we’ve even had an exotic animal petting “zoo” before. We have many moms on the team so we like to keep it where they feel comfortable bringing their family with them. The St. Baldrick’s head shaving half-time is extra long. Us as skaters get antsy and cooled down and do NOT like the looooooong halves so don’t feel bad for complaining about it. Also know that we have already been discussing ways to “fix” this. Unfortunately (but not really) we will have another extended half time at our June bout because our charity is to benefit Breast Cancer and we will have an auction. These are the only two bouts a season with extra long halfs and we are going to do some revamping of these for next season. We learn by trial and error. We are all volunteers who work very hard to keep our sport alive. Keep coming and we’ll keep skating!!!! Thanks for the support!

  6. Kitty VonKlobber says:

    Thanks so much for coming to the bout, and lots of thanks for the write up! We are always looking for ways to improve our bouts, and they are a work in progress. The long halftime isn’t typical, just once or twice a year for certain charities. We hope you come back soon! Say hi and we’ll try to get some autographs and derby swag for the littles :)

  7. Suzy SINsation says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the bout overall! I like to receive constructive criticism about the halftime event, and in the future we are looking at way to make the head-shaving period shorter (though most of our home bouts have a 10-20 minute halftime, this particular one was long because it was St. Baldrick’s).

    So, have you been back? :)

  8. Blonde Brawler says:

    I am so thrilled you had a wonderful time. We love all of our fans and cherish the time the share with us to come and support us. Thank you for coming and sharing this. We look forward to seeing you at more of our bouts.