When a friend invited me to attend the Tucson Roller Derby on Saturday, August 28th, I could barely contain my excitement. Ever since I first heard about roller derby, I had been hoping to see this unique event for myself.
For those not familiar with the sport, allow me to explain. Roller derby is an aggressive contact sport in which teams of skaters compete against each other on a flat track course (banked tracks exist but are not as common). The majority of leagues are all-female, however junior and men's leagues also exist.
In a nutshell, two teams of skaters make their way around an oval track in 2-minute heats called "jams." Teams score points when a designated member of each team called a "jammer" passes members of the opposing team. The opposing team can try to regain the lead by blocking the offending jammer. It is a very fast-paced sport where players come in full contact with each other at high speeds.
The event I attended was the Schoolyard Brawl, which was a double-header event with two matches back-to-back. The first match was the Goth Girls versus the Prom Queens, and the second featured the Tucson Roller Derby's Copper Queens against the San Diego Wildfires. This was a fairly big event, with tickets available at the door or through Ticketmaster.
We headed down to Tucson several hours before the event to do some sightseeing. The doors opened at 5pm with the first match starting at 6pm.
This was my first time visiting the Tucson Convention Center, and I was very impressed with how big it is! A second floor window near the entrance provided a great overview of the whole area that had been set up for the event.
The first match started promptly at 6:00pm and moved very quickly. Right away I could see why the players wear so much safety gear as several of the skaters took some pretty hard falls. Undaunted, they got right back into the action with determined looks on their faces. The Goth Girls put up a good fight, but in the end they were no match for the Prom Queens who won the match.
During the intermission, a local band called God of the Sea played a few songs for the crowd. I am the type of person who always tries to see the best in things, but this band was just plain awful! Their harsh sound and distorted lyrics really cleared out all of the spectators from the southeast corner of the convention center. Families with young children scurried outside with hands clamped over their ears while the 21 and over crowd made a beeline for the beer booth. It wasn't the right type of music for the event at all.The band wrapped up well before the second event started, and by this time a thunderstorm had rolled into town. Great booms of thunder could be heard as the Copper Queens squared off against the Wildfires. The match was full of lead changes and lots of action, but in the end San Diego won.
For the money, you really do get a full evening of entertainment at the roller derby. I really enjoyed it and if it sounds like something you might like, I would encourage you to check it out for yourself!
Best of all, you don't have to drive all the way to Tucson to catch an event. Teams from the Arizona Roller Derby compete regularly at the Castle Sports Club in Phoenix. Visit the Arizona Roller Derby website for more information.