Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday is Derby Day again!

Looking for an activity that features tattooed women in fishnet stockings but not interested in attending a "gentleman's club"? Then the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins might be just what you're looking for!
I was a roller derby fanatic when I was a little kid, to the point where I remember writing an essay on my favorite athlete at the time: Joan Weston, the Blonde Bomber, #59 for my beloved Midwest Pioneers. Every Sunday, my routine consisted of getting up, eating breakfast and impatiently sitting through sepia-tinged reruns of The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid before Bert Weinman, Your TV Ford Man, presented this week's installment of the International Roller Derby League (IRDL). The IRDL ran into financial trouble in the early 70's and roller derby quietly faded away, basically disappearing in the 80's. In 1989 it was sort of re-invented as "Roller Games" with gimmicks like a figure eight track, an alligator pit and over the top WWE-style characters and contrived storylines. It lasted a year.
In 2004, the game was revived as an all-female (sorry, no dudes) amateur sport by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). Less a sanctioning governing body like those found in other sports, the WFTDA functions as a coalition of leagues scattered around the United States and serves to set standards for rules, scheduling and safety. While not members of the WFTDA (yet), the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins (TBDD) are a four team league that was formed in 2005 and they hold their events at the United Skates of America rink on Armenia in West Tampa.
Be advised; this is not your father's (or if you're my age, your) old roller derby. It's fast and full contact like the old game but these skaters have attitude by the bucketload. The event I attended tonight was titled "Blood Bath and Beyond", which gives you a hint of what the league is about. No more long-sleeved, superhero-type (shorts-over-tights) uniforms; the new breed teams wear miniskirts, short shorts and lots and lots of, um, exotic hosiery. Let's just say if the sport really catches on this time, Frederik's of Hollywood is going to have a whole new clientele to sell to. And then there are the skater's names. Tonight's event featured Ann T Social, Bettie Krueger, Violent Beauregarde and Spank Sinatra among others. But before you get the wrong idea of just what kind of entertainment takes place, I'd say that in spite of the ribald flourishes, it's entertainment on about a PG, maybe PG-13, level. People of all ages, including kids, were present and all seemed to be enjoying themselves. Yes, the sport is indeed full contact, and there's plenty of that, but there was probably less violent mayhem than at any football or hockey game. While hints at naughtiness abound, there was nothing presented in poor taste. Heck, intermission entertainment featured a game of musical chairs! Tickets are affordable ($10 in advance, $12 day of) and the whole thing actually has a real basic, minor league feel about it. Which for me, is enough to recommend it right there. And don't worry if you don't understand every esoteric rule; just like watching hockey, you'll pick up on the basics quickly enough to enjoy yourself without sweating the nuances.
Their next event is the championship bout, which will take place at United Skates on September 9th and I can hardly wait...just like when I was a kid.


Dee Bauchery - Tampa Bay Derby Darlins said...

Thanks for the awesome blog!We love it!

Go to our page for more info!!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for coming out! :) Mae