Tonight it was Furious Truckstop Waitresses against Vice Squad, and once I heard about it, I knew we absolutely had to be there. Roller derby … right here in Tucson? It’s an icon of American pop culture, right up there with drive-in movie theaters. I never thought I’d have a chance to see it live.
Problem was, Eleanor had memories of fierce hair-pulling antics and epithets screamed from the one roller derby she attended in Boston many years ago. She didn’t want to go, and wouldn’t let Emma go. So I dragged Adam and Susan, who are visiting in their Airstream motorhome, across Tucson to the place by the interstate where Tucson’s bravest babes battle in an oval track.
It turned out to more of a family event than reprise of “pro wrestling” or The Jerry Springer Show. Tucson Roller Derby is popular and fun. The rinkside was packed. The parking lot around the building was packed. We had to park two lots away. Sure, the rollergirls are colorful with tattoos and bruises, but they are also real people, not invented characters from the mind of a TV producer. They consider themselves athletes and do this for fun and exercise, not money or glory.
I wish the lighting had been better, or that I had a big honkin’ fast lens for sports. This was serious fun to watch and photograph. The crowd was almost as colorful as the rollergirls, and the halftime band were punk rockers called “The Fisters.” The announcers were a riot. So it was worth documenting. It was definitely worth the $8.50 for an advance ticket at Bookman’s.
Going to something like this helps break down the barriers that get between people. Here are a bunch of people who look nothing like me, do things that I don’t do, listen to (and play) music that I don’t, and take risks that I wouldn’t. It doesn’t matter, because in the end we’re all people enjoying a good time together. We share values. (I was watching the girls hugging each other at the end of the game, talking to each other, and signing autographs for the little kids.) We’re not divided by arbitrary lines (political, racial, economic, social, religious, etc.)
I like people who know how to get out in the world and have a good time. And now that I know Tucson Roller Derby is not a freak show, and that it’s less violent than most of what’s on TV lately (including football), I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my daughter along to see the fun. She could benefit from the role model of real women competing on the athletic field for fun.
Sadly, the Furious Truckstop Waitresses (FTW) got pummeled by the Vice Squad last night. Both teams had some strong players, but it was a lopsided score at the end, 185 to 33. I think with a little work FTW could come back in a big way. But it will be a while before I see that. They won’t be playing again until April 18. Next game is Iron Curtain vs. Copper Queens, on March 28.