RollerCon is this week (July 28th-August 1st). If you don’t know what that is, it is exactly what you think: a convention devoted purely to Roller Derby.
I have never really had an interest in going to RollerCon because it is in Las Vegas Nevada. How naïve of me! I don’t like to gamble and I’ve never been to Vegas, so I guess it took a few years to convince me there was actually other stuff to do there, (isn’t it the only thing people talk about: gambling?). This is the first year I really have a desire to go, so maybe next year I’ll make it.
In honor of RollerCon week I thought a little bit about derby wives would be a pertinent topic.
The tradition of derby wives is certainly unique to this sport, and a bizarre one at that. Basically, you marry your best derby friend. Tradition typically goes, you unofficially choose your derby wife, (get engaged?) and then make it official by tying the not in Vegas at RollerCon. I do not have a derby wife. It is not because I have a problem with this tradition, though I do find it weird and do not quite understand it. Perhaps it is because I think it is weird and don’t understand it that I don't have a derby wife. Perhaps it is because I am anti-social. Let’s just say it’s because I haven’t been to Vegas yet.
The best I could gather on the history of this tradition was from a blog written by PrincessDisGrace of the Ohio RollerGirls, otherwise known as ChewBlocka (great name!). Created in November 2003 on a trip to watch the AZRD and after a not surprising round of drinks, ChewBlocka and crew came up with this binding and concrete definition of a derby wife:
• She is the one person in this whole sport of roller derby that the very instant you looked at her you felt like you’d known her since you were a fetus. She looked just like your best friend from fifth grade, or something she did reminded you of all the things you ever liked in anyone else.
• She is the first person you’d call if you ever needed to get bailed out of jail.
• She’ll ride in the ambulance with you when you lose a tooth, break a wrist or tear your ACL.
• She’ll make her wife’s actual husband understand that if he loves her, he’s gunna have to put up with you too, no matter how many times you come over forcing him to re-visit all the derby related shows on his Tivo that you missed.
• She may not even be your best friend in the league or the sport, but she’d be the one you know would be the first to back you up, even if you’re dead wrong. She’ll just tell you you’ve lost your f—king mind later in private, possibly kick your ass a little bit, and then be the only one who could ever talk your hot headed ass into some reason.
Starry Starry Fight #88 of the Arch Rival Roller Girls of St. Louis Missouri has a more serious take on derby wives. In her blog knee caps and derby wives Starry says that in addition to your drinking buddy and partner in crime, “a derby wife is someone who will not let you fail when you want to curl up on the floor in pain.” It seems that derby wives gain strength and encouragement too through their found friendships. Starry relays the story of her knee blowing out one night at practice after several months of fearing it might happen. She said had anyone else been there, even a husband, they might have babied her. “But [derby wives] have a more important role. She must be honest. She must help you to compete while being your competitor. And she must make you keep skating, no matter what.”
I found these darling engagement ring charms you can clip to your derby wife’s skate so you can let everyone know she’s yours.
At this website you can actually buy a whole derby wife engagement kit! With the skate ring charm you also get derby wedding vows, a garter belt and a marriage certificate.
Meet Rosie Rampage #1200 (previously known as DJ Lois) and Coach Kutthroat Kandie #20.
I skated with them with the NCRG and in my opinion, both possess professional level skating talent. They are derby wives who got married at RollerCon August 5th 2006 in front of Hogs N Heifers Saloon. In 2007 they got these as a 1 year anniversary present and re-commitment to their derby love:
Black light sensitive tattoos on their ring fingers!
(These tattoos are completely invisible without the aid of a black light, they’re like SPY tattoos!)
Aside from being a union between two women and the fact that these weddings are totally not binding, derby weddings are far from traditional in other ways. Check out these wild women, Holly Caust and Cherrylicious: I don’t think mom would want to catch you being photographed doing this at your actual wedding! (Tasteful name by the way, Holly!)
What about gay roller girls? I don’t know about all of them, but I do know one couple who allow each other to have derby husbands, but not a derby wife. Go figure.
At RollerCon you can do what you might expect: participate in scrimmages, attend workshops and seminars, hear keynote speakers, buy memorabilia, run into semi-celebs, (and of course, marry your derby true love). Here is the official RollerCon link if you would like to check it out for yourself: