A group of my friends decided to go as a group to a Toronto Roller Derby match as none of us had been but it seems to be an interesting sport. While we were somewhat organized in getting a school bus to drive us to the edge of the city I was taken aback last night when at the pub one asked me what I would be wearing.
I don’t understand that question. Maybe jeans?
A few drinks in I realized this was an event to dress. So while others had planned unicorn or wolf shirts I had planned on doing laundry so that I actually had clean clothes. But fortunately I remembered that I had a dress with skulls on it and hoped that would suffice.
With a bit of pre-drinking I learned my neighbour Jessie was once an esthetician and should have done hair as well because she watched a clip on YouTube and expertly transformed my hair, threw a pink bandana around my neck and I was ready to go with my skull dress.
As soon as you get in there are tons of people in flamboyant dress, many of them with signs to help you understand the rules or hope they can recruit you for the upcoming year. With a love for the game it seems that even opposing teams are friendly but that assessment was before anyone played so I wasn’t prepared to state it as fact.
Perhaps the most fun are the names people choose. My favourites were Rosemary’s Rabies, Tushy Galore and Tarantulove.
Kitschiness aside this is a very popular event. Held in an old warehouse as far North as the subway will go in Toronto, it is a bit out of the way for some but the crowds are there with stands. Beer in hand we sit down and read the program trying to decipher the rules and think we have a good grasp of what is about to go down.
Watching in the beginning can be very overwhelming, there are a lot of people and whistles and rules and understanding how people score 4 vs 5 points for a lap is confusing. This is a tough game but there is definitely strategy. But in the first game alone we saw this wasn’t just for show, one of the girls broke her leg – badly. When players saw her go down and not come back up they all kneeled down on the court.
But as a new spectator it is also really incredible. There seems to be a core group, many boyfriends and girlfriends that seem to come out every week. They have their spot. They bring something cushy to sit on and sit behind beeryramids. Everyone is very friendly and for a $10 ticket you can’t beat the value.
I spoke to one of the players, Beaver Mansbridge (you will only laugh at that reference if you are Canadian), and asked why they didn’t play more central as they would be sure to double the audience. Apparently this warehouse is being demolished for subway expansion which could be a good thing as they’ll need to look for new space. I hope it’s somewhere downtown. Even if it were more expensive for them I’d pay double the price if it were closer to home.
After much debate we started thinking of our own roller derby names. I settled on Punky Bruise-her, Jessie chose Guns and Blammo, her sister Karni naturally gravitated toward Karnage, with a last name of Hedley it only made sense to become Headless and Dana the designer liked Hellvetica.
Jessie is seriously considering playing roller derby but with my travel schedule and fear of broken bones I think I’m better off as a spectator.