Shortbus vs. Amazons, Challenge Bout at RollerCon. Photo: Jason Santti
Three days into RollerCon and everything starts to blur together in a Hunter S. Thompson sort of haze, technicolored neon lights and heat waves a given. Everyone in their basic black scrimmage shirt, names and numbers printed on the back in all similar fonts and sizes, the difference between one derby diva and another is diminished, and we blend into a sea of sweating faces and leg tattoos.
Thus was the case after so many of RollerCon's famed challenge bouts mashed together over the fifteen-hour days. Basically the same as a black and white scrimmage, skaters come together and unify under a team name and common interest. Amazons vs. Short Bus is one example, both teams needing to adhere to a height requirement. There are others that are more lax, like Star Trek vs. Star Wars or 420 vs. Wasted. Really, showing up with the right color of shirt qualifies a player.
Having the arbitrary themes helps to foster more rivalry than a plain ol' black-and-white. For RollerCon newcomers without an extensive little black book full of friends from every league, you only know to cheer for your friends from back home. At a challenge bout, you can at least cheer for whatever topic is more agreeable to you.
In the battle between True Blood and Twilight yesterday, my allegiance lay with the vampires less likely to sparkle in sunlight and more prone to dirty, pretty murder. Our team was just a ragtag bunch of misfits up against some of the West's best, the odds stacked against Bon Temps' finest. Though Uinta Madness jammer and Davis County resident Milk Toast Boy attempted to break the early Twilight lead with some HBO-only moves, they won through keeping their hits parent-friendly and accruing a nasty lead.
Immediately after, I wandered to the next track and witnessed the Rock vs. Rap bout, another high-profile carryover from previous RollerCons, but minutes later could not recount specific events or even players in that challenge. Everything not written down has melded into the slippery pool of memories, just like so many hard RollerCon partiers slipped into the Riviera's pool, all sorts of chocolate wasted.
It's all part of what makes RollerCon great, the overwhelming emotions and cheering and booing, and the energy in every room. I wouldn't call it camaraderie, it's more like a common goal. Everyone is here to win, either in this moment on the track, or in the next bout, or next season. So we can all cheer for each other and give each other shit, and in the end, nobody has to weep goodbye like the last day of summer camp. Because we'll see these girls and guys again, and we're gonna kick their asses.
Photos by Jason Santti.