A Derby Smorgasbord, Part I: Banked Track Roller Derby Tourney @ The Doll Factory, 6/28/2008
Prologue: Sandalwood Conference Room, Marina Del Rey Courtyard Marriott
The other day, a heavily besequinned note appeared in DF’s mailbox reading “You are invited to a feast of roller derby.” DF reacted to the invite with titillation, but also suspicion. The last time I was invited to something, it was a free-boat giveaway down at the police station. But when I got there, they just wanted me to pay my forty-six outstanding parking tickets. And they still haven’t given me that goddamned boat!
Then I began to read, and the next thing I knew, Losanjealous jefe LaVerne Casagrande was slapping me into regained consciousness. “My God, DF,” LaVerne explained, “I heard you in here screaming something about a big two-day banked track derby tournament. Then you must have gone into some kind of fit of ecstasy and blacked out!” “All true, LaVerne”, I responded, “But now that I’m back to my senses, can you stop hitting me?”
After a few more hearty slaps, LaVerne’s arm tired and DF was left alone. But the sweet dream was true: I had received a special invite to an event where roller derby gourmands like yours truly would be able to engorge on eight sumptuous games, spanning two gut-busting days, and featuring some of the most delectable roller girls from around the nation.
June 28. Historic Filipinotown, LosAnjealous, CA. DF arrives at derby venue in full feast-ready garb: chef’s hat, industrial-strength X-ray protection apron (no bibs were available, but I was assured this number would do well to keep my togs free from crumbs and dribble, and would also shield my crotch from errant radiation), and a three-gallon jug of the world’s best condiment, A1 sauce. DF puts A1 sauce on everything: steak, burgers, sushi, salad, ice cream, fuckin’ everything. Important disclaimer: it does not, as it’s often said, make a hamburger taste like a steakburger, but it does make a hamburger taste like A1 sauce.
4.38pm. DF’s stomach rumbles as he awaits the first course. The menu breaks down like this: there are six teams separated into an A bracket (LA Ri-ettes, TXRD’s All-Scar Army, and Team Awesome) and a B bracket (LA Golden Girls, Orange Crushers, and San Diego’s Border Patrol). The backstories are as thick and delicious as A1 sauce. Team Awesome is comprised of some of the best flat-track skaters from around the country, here to show that they can dominate regardless of the kind of track. TXRD, of sadly defunct Rollergirls fame, dominated LADD in a couple past matches. Likewise, San Diego has a score to settle, as they were crushed by over 100 points by LA just two months ago. Enough chat. Soup’s on.
First course: San Diego Border Patrol v. OC Rollergirls
Time Uncertain. The first taste of this multi-course derby smorgasbord is much like, as the French say, an amuse-bouche. It is a tantalizing taste of what is to come, insouciant and just a bit cheeky, piquant yet bearing just a haunting soupcon of … um … ok, I admit it: I arrived late and missed this one. But the result was a decisive 35-12 victory for San Diego, a statement by LADD’s southern sisters that their poor form of two months ago is a thing of the past.
Second course: LA Ri-ettes v. Team Awesome
5.03pm. Palate duly warmed up, DF salivates as he contemplates the next matchup. The question when the whistle blows for the first jam is whether Team Awesome will be able to transfer their flat-track skillz to the banked track. Team Awesome’s answer to this is quick and clear, as they match the Ri-ettes blow for blow. Kung Pow Tina and Mila Minute work their trademark jam-tastic magic, but the flat-trackers keep things close, and halftime arrives with LA clinging to a narrow 26-23 lead.
5.34pm. Team Awesome’s banked-track learning curve continues to be, well, awesome in the second half, as they roar out to a 38-28 lead on the strength of big jams from Killbox, Jackie Daniels, and the adorably-named but still highly effective Biscuit. Things look grim for LA.
5.54pm. High drama! Braided crowd fave Krissy Krash proves that she can dominate offensively as well as defensively, racking a five-point jam to tie the score at 40. Mila Minute and Killbox square off for a sudden-death final jam as crowd noise and sheer tension threatens to blow the roof off the doll factory. In a flash of silver unitard, Mila breaks through the pack, scores a quick point, and calls the jam to cap a breathtaking victory for the Ri-ettes over a justifiably named Team Awesome. Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!
Third course: OC Rollergirls v. LA Golden Girls
6.17pm. My god, there’s more derby, you say? Overload! Pleasure overload! Fortunately, Game Three is a soothing repast, a bowl of cool cucumber soup after the spicy meatball that was Game Two. The LA Golden Girls make their debut in high style, skating past the OC Rollergirls with the greatest of ease. LA gets rare double-digit jams from four different skaters—Judy Gloom, Crystal Deth, Roxy Cotton, and Laguna Beyatch—as the B-team pummels OC 81-12. The lopsided score, though, doesn’t reveal the gutty effort OCRG made in their banked-track debut. Props to them for that.
Fourth course: Team Awesome v. TXRD All-Scar Army
7.08pm. At long last TXRD’s All-Scar Army makes their tournament debut. DF was feeling rather full of roller derby, but this matchup re-whets his appetite. Austin is the ground zero of the last decade’s roller derby revival, and their skaters have been memorialized in TV and film alike. For a connoisseur of le derby, seeing the All-Scar Army live in LA is like seeing a super-famous gourmet chef–like Ronald McDonald or Mel from “Alice”–cook in your very own kitchen.
7.22pm. Yikes. Five or so jams in, it’s clear that Team Awesome’s lack of banked-track experience hasn’t prevented them from cooking up a heaping helping of whoop-ass that they proceed to pour right down TXRD’s gullet. Killbox continues her torrid scoring pace, nailing a double-digit jam that helps her team build a 17-point halftime lead. Certainly the All-Scars will find the range and rebound in the second half, right?
7.49pm. Um … no. Not only does the All-Scar Army fail to come back, but Team Awesome widens the lead and at the end it’s not even close, as Team A runs away with it by a score of 47-21. It should be pointed out that TXRD was missing some skaters to absence or injury, and that the tournament rules were subtly but importantly different than the ones the Texas rollergals are used to playing with. None of this, though, means that Team Awesome did not richly deserve victory. While it’s easy to appreciate their speedy jammers, Team Awesome’s defensive organization played just as big a role in their win—which is even more impressive considering how rarely they have the opportunity to practice together.
Fifth Course: San Diego Border Patrol v. LA Golden Girls
8.01pm. DF, being a sophisticated foodie, makes the scene at all of LA’s fine dining establishments. In the very likely event that you’re not VIP enough to get a table DF’s fave eatery—le Jardin d’Olive—be hereby apprised that among the various perks at an establishment of that caliber are divine all-you-can eat breadsticks. Often at le O.G., a pasta-stuffed DF will say to himself, “My god—can I really eat a forty-seventh breadstick?” And as the size of his gut duly evidences, DF’s response is invariably, “Mais oui”.
8.16pm. Here, too, DF has had his fill of derby, but continues to consume, unable to look away. DF actually thought this bout would be a blowout in favor of LA, but as the game commences, the Border Patrol stay neck-in-neck with the Golden Girls. Both teams’ blockers have the edge early on, and most jams result in few or no points. SDDD’s porous defense from two months ago is nowhere to be seen, and their blockers effectively prevent LA from scoring with the ease they enjoyed against OCRG. Halftime rolls around and the score is as even as the game has been: 13-13.
8.48pm. The B-bracket finale has turned out to be far more delicious than anyone expected. It continues in equipoise throughout the second half, and the Border Patrol leads 21-20 with only a single jam left to determine who will advance to play on the second day of the tournament. LA appears to have the edge, because Laura Palm-her will be skating solo due to a major penalty on SDDD. Laura scores a pair of points to apparently win the contest 22-21, but LA’s jubilation is short-lived. In a gut-churning reversal, the refs announce that they assessed a Golden Girl a major penalty during the last jam, nullifying LA’s point and effectively awarding San Diego victory.
8.58pm. The confused LA crowd rains boos down on the zebras (not for the first, or it turns out, the last time during the tournament), and DF, whose journalistic integrity admittedly is compromised by LADD loyalty, shares the disappointment. Yet whatever one might think of the decision that handed the game to the Border Patrol, the fact remains that the SD skaters played a savvy, effective game, frustrating the Golden Girls, and playing them—at worst—dead even.
Sixth course: TXRD v. LA Ri-ettes
9.03pm. That last course left a bad taste in DF’s mouth. And what better way to solve that problem than with a big, tasty dessert? Indeed, this last course may be the most anticipated one of all, pitting TXRD’s famed All-Scar Army against the creme de la LADD. Two previous contests between the two teams ended in clear victories for TXRD. Will this one be any different? Well, if you can wait until the next paragraph, dear impatient readers, you will find out.
9.20pm. Oh. In fact, it takes very little time to determine where this bout is headed. TXRD have no real answer to LA’s patented one-two punch, as Mila Minute and Kung Pow Tina lead the Ri-ettes to a quick 17-0 lead. TXRD never really recovers, cutting the deficit a sliver to 22-6 at the half, and then going down to a 40-10 defeat.
10.08pm. A long day of derby consumption now behind him, DF waddles into the June eve, almost too full to ambulate. Visions of rollergirls swirl in his head: Team Awesome’s flawless transition to the banked track, TXRD’s kinda disappointing performance, the Ri-ettes’ ass-kicking victories, SDDD’s gritty upset to top the B bracket. Truly there is a lot to digest here, but that’s nothing twelve hours’ sleep can’t fix.
Don’t forget: there’s more to come! Tune in tomorrow as DF reports on the second day of the Battle on the Bank, with even more roller derby thrills, skillz, and spills; the championship between Team Awesome and the Ri-ettes; and a near-riot. Watch this space, derby homies.
Photos and credits:
1. TXRD v. Team Awesome
2. Team Awesome skate-outs
3. Kina Wahine of OCRG
4. P.I.T.A. and Team Awesome skater about to hit the rail
5. OCRG and LA Golden Girls await the ref’s whistle
6. TXRD’s Smarty Pants jams against Team Awesome
7. Titty Titty Bang Bang and Amber Ail post-collision
8. Mad derby skillz & looks to kill: Ri-ettes Mila Minute and Kung Pow Tina
All photos (C) 2008 by Marc Campos/Stalkerazzi. Do not use without author’s permission.
Please note: DF has, as always, tried to give all due credit in pics to featured skaters, but in many cases was unable to make full IDs because of so many new faces. If readers want to clue him in on who’s who (or make any other comments), write to DF at losanjealous dot com and all suggested revisions for captions and other text will be considered.