Last time I wrote about the Derby girls, it was mostly to lament the fact that there were no tournaments in my neck of the woods for months to come. Well, the snow is melting, the leaves are budding, and is that a wristguard I spy?
The Montreal Roller Derby league is about to kick off its season with a tournament of heretofore unheard-of proportions - The Beast of the East, a full day of hip-checking, body-slamming, fishnet-ripping insanity. It all goes down April 19th from 10 AM to 10 PM, at Aréna St-Louis, 5633 St. Dominique. Teams from all over Canada and the States will be playing for the title (and the admiration and swooning of the fans).
There has been some debate, on this very board no less, as to whether or not Roller Derby constitutes a feminist activity or intervention. The point has been made that, while fun, Derby delegitimizes female sports, because of the outlandish costumes, sexy undertones, and focus on performance rather than skill (though skill is obviously necessary as well. Look at that photo. Good god, would you want to mix with that if you didn’t think you had what it takes?). But I kind of think that Derby is to sports what The Cramps are to barbershop quartets; granted, the latter is more refined, more about sheer skill, discipline, and good clean living, less about showiness and attitude. But I know who I’d rather be watching on a Saturday night.
(*no, I did not some up with this title myself. I’m not that genius, okay. It’s from a fundraiser the ladies held last week to help pay their way to a tournament in San Diego.)
Sure, Derby is a spectacle, the women wear costumes and have hilarious names like Wrath Poutine and Fonda Cox, and sometimes it gets a little sloppy. It’s also a bunch of women who are unabashedly aggressive and unabashedly girly at the same time, making their own fun. I also like the fact that athletic perfection is not required, and that there are some girls who learn their Derby skills on the fly - like with most things I love, heart is a bigger requirement than strict discipline. And quads. You need quads.
The Beast is only the beginning of this year’s Derby season. See you there…