Up Close And Personal Demanda Riot, by Tobias Wettstien

Published on September 16th, 2015 | by Andy Frye

Between Jams: Demanda Riot

Demanda Riot joined B.ay A.rea D.erby in January 2007. Prior to that, Demanda bought skates on Craigslist to try out at Rat City in 2006, where she didn’t make the cut. Since joining B.ay A.rea’s elite travel squad, The Golden Girls, she has also skated with Team Legit (2011 banked track champions), The Vagine Regime, Team Antik and at RollerCon as part of the West Coast AllStars. She was voted DNN’s Best Blocker in 2010. 

To many who have skated against her, she’s the imtimidating one. Those who know her personally, know her as thoughtful and friendly, with a dose of ascerbic wit. Either way, her war paint ain’t skin deep.

(Photo by Tobias Wettstein, submitted with permission by Demanda Riot)


Like my team, California’s Bay Area has a unique rep. San Francisco is being overrun by tech and the hyper-rich. I don’t spend much time there, but it’s overflowing into Oakland.

I live in an area that is in flux.  Change is not necessarily a bad thing, but is sometimes an uncomfortable and scary thing. Other than that – I really enjoy living in Oakland and practicing in West Oakland. There’s a grittiness and creativity brewing that resonates well with me. I also am super down with the urban farming happening.

I picked number 000 because when the rules changed and I could no longer have a colon in the middle of my number.  Originally my number was 0:00, meaning ”time’s up” on the 2 minute jam clock.

The most valuable lesson I learned from derby is if you make it happen, you find yourself with others that make it happen.  Then you start to be surrounded by some amazing ‘get shit handled individuals’. Then, cool-as-hell things follow.

The most fun thing about roller derby is body checking while on roller-skates.  Perhaps it’s not the most relevant move in today’s strategic game play, but I do really enjoy it.

One time, during RollerCon 2012, I was leaving the Black and Blue Ball, when I was sexually assaulted by a woman. I was grabbed from behind and pulled close to her body, she was grabbing at my crotch and breasts while pelvic thrusting and telling me vulgarly, “exactly what she wanted to do” to me.  I grabbed her wrists and pushed her off of me while turning around.  I pointed in her face with a ‘NO!’ and watched her retreat into the crowd.  Trying best to memorize facial features in case I saw her geared up one of my classes, I realized she wasn’t anyone I remember interacting with previously, but a stranger.

That episode was a dark backlash (for me) of being a well-known skater. There is a sense of entitled accessibility that extends beyond trackside high fives and photo opportunities. I love skating roller derby and enjoy social interactions with other skaters and fans, in an appropriate setting. However, if I am away from the track, I should feel safe, as should everyone.

As you could expect, I feel like I have to be on my guard all the time at derby events.  I had no personal background with that woman, but no doubt she knew me from seeing me on the track. Does being derby famous mean anyone gets to grope me? No.

I started wearing my makeup the first time I skated as Demanda Riot, at a try out for Rat City in 2006.  Why? Because that is exactly who I was as Demanda Riot and was no less than exactly what I would be bringing to the track.

One cool thing about being Demanda Riot is that it’s me — and I don’t know and couldn’t imagine or possibly be anything else. Every so often I cross paths with someone who tells me how I was “the reason” they started roller derby or how I have inspired them so much through watching me play.

I never expected to be an inspiration.  But I cannot deny that that has happened, and it is a very good thing that has come from me enjoying playing the sport of roller derby.

(Art by Randall Trang, submitted with permission by Demanda Riot)

As a player I’ve been called tough and terrifying. What people don’t know about my personality is I am all these things but also introverted by nature.  I’m very protective of my personal privacy.

I truly admire my father. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him being the person that he has been for me to grow up with.  And the way that I see heroes has everything to do with that upbringing.

The people I admire the most are those who are working hard alongside me.  Very often these are my teammates.  I admire the living shit out of those people, and it evolves, grows and changes every year.

If I wasn’t a derby player I’d make a damn good side show performer. I’m a huge fan of Pain Solution and DisGraCeLand Hook Squad performance group, circa 2008.

One thing I can’t do without every day is breathing. Just try going a day without it.  In all seriousness though, intentional breath is a powerful tool that I leverage every single day.

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Andy Frye writes about derby for Fiveonfive and has written for a variety of other sports publications. As LeBron Shames, he skates with the Chicago Bruise Brothers.

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About the Author

Andy Frye writes about derby for Fiveonfive and has written for a variety of other sports publications. As LeBron Shames, he skates with the Chicago Bruise Brothers.

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