Derby on the Cheap: Fight Crew v. Swarm @ the Doll Factory, 3/28/2009

Swarm pre-game meeting

6.45pm. March 28, 2009. An alley in East Hollywood, CA. Bem vindo, derby fans and adoring readers. How are you this fine week? Oh, not so great? Stock portfolio hurting? Bad economy got you down? Ha! Well, DF is doing just fine, so suck on that! What’s his secret you ask? Simple: DF was basically destitute and living out of the trunk of his magenta 1996 Chevy Monte Carlo with extensive body damage before the recession struck, so it wasn’t possible to sink any lower. It’s OK to be jealous.

7.01pm. But many of you have written in being all like, “Oh boo hoo, DF, we can’t go to the roller derby anymore because the bank foreclosed on our seventh mortgage and our HELOC got frozen and we can’t spend any more on non-essential items like roller derby.” Well, cut the whining. First, roller derby is hardly a ‘non-essential item’. Au contraire; there is, in fact, nothing more essential in the world. It’s a scientific fact. Second, fear not: DF will herein tap into his vast reservoir of derby knowledge to impart advice on experiencing the magic of LADD without breaking the bank in a multi-part series called “Derby on the Cheap”. Shall we?

7.13pm. 101S/Benton/Temple/City of Angels Hospital/”Lot full”/(copious pouring-forth of obscenity)/egregiously illegal parking job/Bonnie Brae/Doll Factory! And lord almighty look at this line. Now some would say that waiting in line is for proles. DF retorts: false; it merely heightens the delicious anticipation of the bout to come.

FC skate out

7.13pm and thirty seconds. OK, this sucks. HURRY THIS GODDAMNED LINE UP YOU FUCKING PROLES!!!

7.18pm. Ahem: now at the front desk. Ye shall hereby inculcate LESSON ONE in “Derby on the Cheap”—invoke the name of DF for a fabulous and substantial discount. Viz., “Dear derby ticket counter staffers,” DF asks, oozing charm and various other emanations, “I am the illustrious DF. Perhaps you can discount my ticket accordingly?”

7.23pm. OK. Well, many would take a response of “Who in crapping Christ are you?” and “The bout has been sold out at full price for days, guy” (as well as a particularly ignominious ejection at the hands of burly security personnel) to be discouraging. Contrariwise, DF merely moves to LESSON TWO: to save on ticketing fees, just sneak into the Doll Factory through our city’s commodious underground sewers. What’s a little tetanus and sewer-stank among derby fans, right?

BdS and TB jockey for position

7.41pm. The bout is … a-BOUT to begin (get it? it’s word play, philistines). Hey, I recognize these chicks in yellow-and-black, and if you were here last time you’re well acquainted with them too. This is the same SDDD Swarm that (wo)manhandled LADD’s own Varsity Brawlers back in February. Today they take on the Fight Crew, who are freshly accoutered in snazzy new uniforms. The Swarm want to show that their opening league victory wasn’t just beginner’s luck. The Fight Crew want … well, just to win a regular-season game (it’s been since 2007 since this happened, or right about when DF started covering LADD, and lord yes the correlation has been pointed out to me). The teams have never met. The tension is palpable. The anticipation, it is killing me. Let’s do this.

8.04pm. The first quarter begins, and it looks like the Swarm will BEE dominant, as they BUZZ through the pack and STING the Fight Crew in jam after jam, and…. Jesus God, that’s awful. Point is: SDDD drops the hammer in the first quarter. Stalwarts Bonnie D. Stroir and Sarkastika Fantastika (who you may know as the bitter rival of fellow San Diego skater Steely Jan) resume throwing down multi-point jams just as they did last month. Nor does the Swarm’s pack give the FC jammers any daylight. When the dust clears and the quarter ends, it’s 22-7 SDDD, and seems like it shouldn’t even be that close.

Two skates to the head

8.29pm. And now for everyone’s favorite feature: the violentest hit of the bout! Tenth jam, first quarter, Bonnie D. Stroir seeking to lap the pack with Tawdry Tempest in hot pursuit. FC’s Bombshell Betty lines up BdS what looks to be a vicious block from the side, but rather than seeking to dodge Betty, Bonnie D. accelerates right into her and the collision sends both skaters (and, one imagines, teeth, and ample gore) airborne. If high-school physics teachers could illustrate the principle of conservation of linear momentum with something that bloodily awesome, kids might actually pay attention to science.

8.40pm. Well, amigos, it looks like another blowout will be in the offing. DF can finish writing this thing early and get his drink on. Possible headline: “Savvy Swarm swamps feckless FC”– Hey, not so fast, self. Siren-turned-Crew jammer Haught Wheels racks seven points in consecutive jams; then classic FC stalwarts Tawdry Tempest and Judy Gloom score three points on three jams in a row and with the Crew blockers now holding the Swarm at bay, here’s a rare and delicious sight: the Fight Crew are in the lead, 26-24.

Bo Toxic self-applies ice

8.47pm. Ah momentum—la donna e mobile and so are you. Just as fast as the Crew turned the tide in their favor, the Swarm grab the lead back and then some, amassing 18 points in the final three jams of the half—thanks in large part to a seven-point jam by Taryn Hearts—to regain sway, 42-26. All these lead changes are making DF dizzy. I need a calmative (i.e., booze).

8.59pm. So. It’s halftime, and high time for LESSON THREE in DF’s “Derby on the Cheap” series. No one—no one—loves a good corn dog more than DF, and yet at $1.50 per, they are sadly out of my price bracket. No worries, observe: “Oh sexy bitches of HDOAS, DF would like to order the super-discount Recession Special!” There are momentary puzzled looks, and then the sweet sweet reply: “We have no idea what you’re on about, amigo, but here’s a corn dog that just fell on the floor; you can have it for 15 cents off.” Bonus!!! DF scores again.

Lobster mascot

9.15pm. And speaking of scoring (and of contrived transitions), let us make sure we miss none of the forthcoming second-half point accumulation. Sarkastika leads off the third quarter with another seemingly effortless four-point jam that stretches the Swarm lead to 46-26. Once again it appears that the next stop is Blowout City, USA, but then the Crew slowly slowly inch back into the game, led by police defector Haught Wheels. Haughty deals deadly double duty as a blocker during the third quarter, lending discipline to the Crew pack and at one point sending SDDD jammer Taryn Hearts to the track twice in brutal succession. Bombshell Betty joins FC vets Tempest and Gloom in slowly but surely racking up points, and by the end of the quarter the Swarm lead is a mere eleven, and the momentum once again trends Crew-ward.

9.27pm. Q: who is the yellow-and-black-clad gentleman that stalks the perimeter of the track? Why it’s bee-guy, an addition to the jocose cast of mascots associated with each of the LADD squads. But in stark contrast to the FC’s festive lobster or the Tough Cookies’ aptly chosen Cookie Monster, this mascot seems more menacing than merry, due in part to the serial-killer mask offsetting the otherwise innocuous bee-girl-from-that-Blind-Melon-video outfit. Of course, DF is so petrified of humans in anthropomorphic cartoon-character outfits that he once shat himself with fear upon seeing a Goofy at Disneyland, so take this with a massive grain of high-end sea salt.

Bee guy

9.45pm. However much DF enjoys the orgiastic feast that is a blowout, the subtle pleasures of the tautly balanced contest have as much to recommend them, and by the fourth quarter, such a contest appears to be in the offing. Haught Wheels and Bombshell Betty team up to shave the Swarm lead to a mere two points. It’s going to come down to the wire! The tension is killing me! It’s neck-and-neck! Nothing can separate these two squads– Oh wait, except, it appears, the final four jams. SDDD finds another gear late in the quarter, and when Kiki Diazz takes advantage of a power jam to rack a grand slam, the game has gone from tight to good night in a matter of minutes, as the Swarm stretches their lead 18 points in the . This time it’s too late for another Crew comeback, and the final score ends up 83-62 Swarm.

10.03pm. Well that was fun, wasn’t it dear readers? We also saved on the price of admission and food, and all we had to do was wallow in sewage and eat filth! And if you thought that was frugal, I’m going to frugal the shit out of you with LESSON FOUR in DF’s Guide to Derby on the Cheap. There are scads of money just waiting to be made in a fun game I like to call “seeking hidden treasure”. Others have termed it “rooting around in trash bins looking for cans to recycle”, but those unimaginative morons can bite my ass. Avast, ye scurvy dumpster!

Victorious Swarm

10.56pm. What a night! The Swarm may be newbies, but they’ve made it clear that they’re not to be taken lightly, and now sit undefeated atop the 2009 LADD standings (albeit with many many bouts to go). And the FC may not have won but they appear a far stouter and more dangerous opponent than their 2008 incarnation, and are far from eliminated from the title hunt. But tonight’s big winner is, as usual, DF. In addition to seeing a fine derby match on the cheap, DF has accumulated seventeen cans in a trash bin alongside Temple Blvd. for recycling already! Just when it couldn’t get any better, some of the Dolls exit the factory and pass DF in mid-scavenge. In a gesture of unadulterated affection, they throw several empty cans of Sparks® into the dumpster just for DF to accumulate. I love you too, Derby Dolls!


1. Swarm exhibits appropriately apian group organization

2. FC skate out in novel sartorial splendor

3. Bonnie D. Stroir and Trixie Biscuit shoulder-butt moments after the bout’s inception

4. Bombshell Betty takes a pair of flying skates to the old cabeza (which did nothing, it should be said, to temper her bloodlust through the rest of the bout)

5. Bo Toxic self-applies what is either ice or topical botulism toxin

6. Who’s this friendly fellow? Why it’s the Fight Crew lobster, who wears his love for the Crew (and for cerveza, apparently) on his chitinous sleeve

7. Now compare the Swarm’s mascot, who is more fiendish than friendly

8. All these killer bees are queens; here they celebrate victory & remaining undefeated

All photos (C) 2009 by Rinkrat. All rights reserved.