Skaters learn new techniques at one of the MVP classes at RollerCon 2012. Photo: Jason Santti
Shortly after joining the ranks at SLUG Mag, I threw out the idea of covering RollerCon 2012. It had been a dream of mine since I started skating, to one day make it to RollerCon. For me, it seemed so out of reach. Not only did I not think I had the ability to compete (not at 17, nor when I was playing recreationally last year at 18), I knew the cost of a five-day trip to Vegas on top of the ever-pricier RollerCon pass was way out of reach. As the possibility loomed closer and it was finally confirmed that I was in, this seemingly lofty goal was now completely tangible.
So it was with nerves and curiosity that I came to my first RollerCon. It was so overwhelming walking through the Riviera's halls amongst hordes of other derby girls I had yet to meet, but knew we had at least one thing in common. Derby is the greatest of all unifiers. It doesn't matter what you do off the track, so long as you gear up and get going, especially between the doors of the Riviera in July.
I've never been to summer camp, but I have watched the Parent Trap (1990's Lohan edition) enough times to know that it can be some seriously life-changing shit. Though I was participating in RollerCon only as a spectator this year, it was still amazing to experience. I saw skaters take the track that I'd only heard of in derby girl fairytales, and cheered on the folks I knew from home, all while Swagger Lee kept my social anxiety in check. We slipped away from the hustle and bustle to check out rad places like Ronald's Donuts and Veggie Delight. Then, we jumped right back into all the sweet hot action.
Of course, one caveat and call-out: All-access MVP passes sell out incredibly fast, and beyond that, this year's lines for MVP-only classes and clinics stretched practically a city block. Some skaters found out the hard way that without waiting in line hours before the class started to get one of 60 entry tickets, they wouldn't be allowed to participate. This seems like a crucial flaw in the RollerCon planning at this stage, because with 2,000 MVP passes completely sold out and classes only accepting 60 people, it's possible that a skater might pay hundreds of dollars for nothing. Still, the fact that so many MVP classes were filled and so many skaters waited for that chance is an amazing example of how much this means to everyone who attends.
I think one of the most inspiring things about being at RollerCon 2012 is seeing all the optimism in the sport. Derby continues to grow, as well as the skills of the players and the number of places derby has gone, and everyone is so excited about it. Some people talk about wanting to see roller derby in the Olympics. I'm still not sure if I agree or not, but I look at RollerCon and all the happy faces, all the sold out passes, and I think that this is enough glory for us. This is our own way of celebrating the sport and the lifestyle. We don't need a McDonalds sponsorship to validate that.
Photos by Jason Santti.