Roller derby Houston style

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While the majority of my week in the US was spent either working or travelling, there were a few moments to do some fun things. The biggest bonus in Houston was the chance to go to a double header roller derby match on the Saturday night. Roller derby! Texas! Texas Roller Derby! For those of you less familiar with contemporary roller derby history, the revival really started in Austin in Texas in 2001. Thus it would be reasonable to expect that those participating in roller derby in Texas probably have a longer history than most of the rest of us.

The bouts were held in the centre of Houston at the Bayou Music Center (Snowpatrol had played there the previous night). There was upper level seating, but for the first bout I chose to sit on the floor at the edge of the track. I loved the fact that the experienced audience members had brought their own folding chairs to set up in this area.

Over all the action was really fast, with lead jammers quick to call off jams if there was any chance the other jammer might score, or even if they couldn’t get a clear lead before heading into the pack for the first scoring pass. There were a lot of jams in which no points at all were scored, and only a few where the non-lead jammer scored anything. There was also some slow/stopped derby when it was appropriate, but this tactic wasn’t over-used.

The first bout was between the Psych Ward Sirens and the Suicide Shifters from Dallas. I could not go past supporting the Psych Ward Sirens with their all red and black gear. Of course. They were fantastic. Jekyll and Heidi was absolutely my favourite player – she was completely outstanding as a blocker. Watching her single handedly stop the Suicide Shifter’s jammer time after time was just amazing. I also really liked SyRenge as a jammer – and the jams when she was jamming and Jekyll and Heidi was blocking were fantastic to watch. The Sirens used a variety of tactics, with knee starts a regular feature when the Shifters jammer was in the bin.

In the end the Sirens smashed it, winning 262 to 82.

The second bout was between two Houston sides – the Bayou City Bosses and the Brawlers. The Brawlers roll out was dedicated to MCA with them all in shirts and ties and sunglasses to the sound of Sabotage. So naturally I chose to support them. I also moved to the upstairs seating for a different perspective.

This was a much closer game with a few really impressive players on each side. For the Bosses, Big Bad Voodoo Dollie was the jammer who impressed me the most. Fast and small, she was able to whizz through the pack. For the Brawlers, I loved Freight Train – a powerful skater who used that power both jamming and blocking and popped out as lead jammer repeatedly. This bout ended with the Brawlers winning 125 to 111.

I must say it was nice to get out and drink enormous plastic cups of beer and eat a hot dog and fries and watch some fabulous derby. It also felt quite familar, just with a lot more Texan accents. And no small talk! But I knew that the work and jet lag combo was hitting me when in the last couple of jams I actually found myself nodding off slightly!

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