“Roller derby, what’s that?” my Dutch doctor asks while looking at my swollen knee. I hurt my knee falling on the ice a month ago, but I wanted to make sure she knew I was planning to come back with more sports-related injuries and didn’t want to re-explain why and how.
In its modern form, roller derby was revived in the United States about 10 years ago and is an all-female contact sport played on roller skates (men are referees). Two teams skate around a flat track (not a banked track like in the film Whip It, although it’s an option) and score points by passing the opposing team and physically bashing them off the track using their torsoes.
When I joined last December, there were five Dutch teams, the first one being the Amsterdam Derby Dames, founded in 2009. Just two months down the road, another two teams have popped up in Arnhem and Groningen, both within a few weeks of each other. Roller derby is catching on like wildfire. All the teams are still recruiting, learning the moves and many members need to pass an internationally recognised exam to be able to compete. It’s a ground up, build your own team thing, with no real outside help — it’s real teamwork, not that crap your boss feeds you. Members pays fees and help each other out with gear, training and transport.
The Rotterdam Deathrow Honeys were featured last December in De Telegraaf and on the radio, and train with more advanced teams such as the Ghent Go-Go Rollergirls in Belgium.
Yes, we wear fishnets and skirts, yes, you can come and watch one of these days, and yes, it’s a real contact sport. To give you an idea of how it is live, watch our favourite video of Beyonslay (derby names are puns), a ‘blocker’ of the Gotham City Roller Girls give it to Rice Rocket, ‘jammer’ for the Texas Rollergirls, the US state where the revival began.
Nope, not the first block, the second one!