The first weekend of March 2011, I went to my first major roller derby tournament. It was Wild West Showdown, in Bremerton, Washington. There, several of the top teams in the western USA met for two and a half days of roller derby on three tracks. Teams traveled to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds from Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Santa Cruz, Denver, Colorado Springs, and even Philadelphia (as well as a lot of smaller cities in the northwest).
I had an awesome opportunity to work the event as a member of the live video production crew, Blaze Streaming Media. And though the pay wasn’t great (there aren’t big bucks to be made anywhere in roller derby yet), it paid for about half my travel expenses. Best of all, for every two bouts we worked, we got one off. And so I made sure to get all the Mile High Club’s bouts off so I could be a regular spectator (in case you don’t know, the Mile High Club is the Denver Roller Dolls’ all-star team). It was an experience I think I’ll never forget, and I want to share some of the highlights with you now.
- Best thing about the venue: Unlike places like the 1STBANK Center in Denver, the seats were very close to the action. I think I never sat more than about 15 feet from the track.
- Worst thing about the venue: They only let people drink beer upstairs in the “beer garden” where the view is terrible. That’s right, no beer in the stands. I don’t know why, but that’s how they do it at the Kitsap Sun Pavilion.
- Favorite fanboy memory: Learning strategy and rules from other Denver Roller Dolls while watching the Denver Roller Dolls. Oh, and cheering DRD to a perfect three wins out of three bouts.
- Favorite bout: While I loved all three of the Mile High Club’s bouts, the most silly fun was a test bout with Vagine Regime vs. Vagine Regime. Half of them wore orange and the other half wore white, and it was hilarious good times. There was also a closed door bout after the end of the tournament, where the debauchery level went way up; but I had to work during most of it.
- Favorite memory of the after party: I drank too much at the after party. At one point, I must have started hallucinating because I thought the Mile High Club dance squad were on the ground, making it shake around like an earthquake. But then, out of the haze, came a statuesque blonde in a beautiful evening gown. She was carrying a silver platter and offered me wine, cheese, and crackers. It was as if she had stepped through a portal from a Hollywood gala. It was Denise “Fawn Stalking” Dambrackas. I laughed and laughed with her, and ate her crackers.
- Least favorite memory of the after party: Waking up about 4 hours later to catch the shuttle bus to the airport. It’s been a long time since I had a drunken breakfast or a two-day hangover.
- Biggest lost opportunities: I realized after I got back that I didn’t get a single photo with the Denver Roller Dolls. I also didn’t get in the crew photo for the video production team. And I didn’t get a chance to meet Sara Problem, who has the best derby name I’ve heard yet.
- Second biggest lasting impression: In addition to being awesome competitors, the members of the Mile High Club are just downright nice people to be around.
- Biggest lasting impression: Unlike the monthly home bouts, which have a lot of spectacle, lights, music, half-time shows, etc. the tournament bouts were just focused on the sport. The spectacle is great fun, but I really appreciated seeing roller derby done in its more pure form, played at a very high competitive level. I can’t wait to have an opportunity to see it like this again.