Rollercon Essentials ram1_0

Published on August 10th, 2012 | by DerbyLife

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Reflections of a Rollercon Noob

by Margie Ram #526

Rollercon is one hyped up event. I’ve been talking about it for a year when I first discovered the reason for the mass exodus to Las Vegas last July. For those of who did not go this year, just count on going next year and do whatever you can to make it happen. I bought my MVP pass in November.

Rollercon has come a long way. My original mama, Wanton Rebellion, has been going pretty much since its inception and was instrumental in me bringing the right crap and having a successful experience. As usual, she gave me some sound advice to not plan anything this first year. Just go and take it all in and feel it out. I’ve learned the hard way by not listening to her in the past, to fucking listen to her. Nevertheless I still showed up with the intention of watching Demanda Riot’s advanced blocking class. Sorry, no spectators. I think I actually laughed out loud. Right. No plans.

As I looked down the dark hallway there was a sea of moving derbyness all fishnets and booty shorts, the faint smell of carpet cleaner and not so faint stinky pads and damp socks. Holy shit I just realized that there were thousands of derby people in this hallway right now. A great swell of team practice tanks in a rainbow of colors before me. Is this heaven…or hell? Either way, I liked it.

I am still processing everything that I learned and witnessed. Some of it has to definitely stay in Vegas. Rollercon is many things. It’s the ivy league of derby with classes taught by those at the highest skill level and the best parties and the hot star athletes. It’s a tournament of sorts with some of the best of the best that actually counts in the rankings. It’s boot camp for your personal derby army. It’s the longest practice ever. It’s bonding with those you know and those you just met. It’s a picnic scrimmage with fun challenge bouts in creative costumes. It’s shopping – damn it’s the greatest derby mall ever. It’s a crap load of volunteer man hours. Remember volunteer means they don’t get paid and they work their asses off anyway with love and conviction. This derby city lives and breathes and moves in a chaotic dream of all things derby. Amazing and not to be missed.

I did get to take a class from Demanda Riot. The only one she taught that allowed my skill level 2. I sacrificed the better portion of the luau for it. After waiting in line for two and a half hours, I made it to one of the greatest experiences of my life. Speed Control in One-on-One Situations. Like Disneyland, once you ride the awesome adrenaline coaster, you forget about the line. Like front row seats to my favorite band, I would wait a long ass time to gain access to that. Worth every second and heart palpitation. And then to top this all off, I got to see her play again and again, several times over the weekend. She’s scary as fuck in a bout but a highly-effective, genuinely sweet, gifted teacher and mentor in a training situation. She’s not the only one.

I found that all of the “famous” derby people I met this weekend are like that. Despite any contradictory reputation, they were all gracious and willing to share their skill and tips to make me a better skater – whether they were there to teach a class or not.

Suzy Hotrod taught me to block as a jammer, jam as a blocker. That’s right, Suzy. Fucking. Hotrod. It also involved a very long wait for a ticket very early in the morning after a ridiculously fun Black and Blue Ball (umm stays in Vegas). Totally worth it as this skill set will be invaluable to my game. I can’t wait to share it with my league. After the class, I was able to watch the Team USA/ Philly bout in the best seats ever. Not only did she take the time to teach me her perfected skill, I then saw her use it. I don’t think I can accurately convey in this article how fucking awesome this was.

The most memorable thing about Suzy though is how gracious and even a little humble she is. I don’t think she realizes how truly admired and adored she is as she quickly sold out of every piece of merchandise she brought with her. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a shirt and one that even mostly fits. As she was personalizing mine, a star-struck skater was having a convulsion at being so close to her idol. Suzy put her arm tightly around her shaking fan for a photo worthy of any scrapbook and said, “I’m just another skater.” Not exactly, Suz, but what I think she meant is don’t underestimate your own awesomeness. It goes back to what I am always harping about in my articles – that this is each person’s individual journey and you cannot judge your success on someone else’s.

Rollercon was not like I expected. Where were all the egomaniacs? In the skiing world where I hail from, the heads are huge. Usually, the bigger the jumps, the bigger the asshole. Unlike skiing, derby is a female dominated sport so it appears that the nurturing nature of the woman means that most derby athletes are simply great people who really believe in the no douchebag rule on and off the track. My encounters with all the derby royalty were those of gracious teachers looking for me to succeed.

And I met so many women at the top of their skill level that I will never forget. Like Isabelle Ringer. And Teflon Donna. And Smarty Pants. As a derby newbie, I didn’t know these women before, although Wanton did mention that if I were to make any plans despite her no plan advice, Smarty Pants should be in that plan. They all take their roles as coaches, mentors and inspirations very seriously and it positively impacts every person they come in contact with.

I think through the love and support of every single person I met whether derby royalty or fledgling newbie, I discovered my own awesomeness this weekend. I’m not going to forget it and I’m going to take that shit seriously.

See you at next year’s Rollercon!
Margie Ram #526, Wasatch Roller Derby, Salt Lake City, Utah

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