The ARC Campbelltown, Sat 16 Mar.
[EVENTS ~ SA]
There’s something extremely charming about entering what is clearly a very tight knit, very niche subculture that you don’t belong to. That was the immediate feeling I had attending the South Australian Roller Derby Extravaganza. The Extravaganza is supposed to be an expo for people unfamiliar with derby, but it was clear that most of the audience was part of the same tight knit derby community.
Presented by the Murder City Roller Girls, none of the teams from the five state leagues represented are playing. Instead, the three bouts – co-ed juniors, co-ed derby, and the headline all-female derby that most people are familiar with – are made up of exhibition teams pulled together for the night. The announcers briefly explain how derby works, although I needed to text a friend or the exact rules and I still wasn’t that clear on what was happening. That wasn’t much of a problem, though. You don’t need to know the rules to enjoy, for instance, the sight of a nine year old attempting to body a girl twice her size, or a woman in a short green tutu slaloming her way into a crowd of people with a look of grim determination on her face while the sounds of a girl’s high school basketball game filter through from across the hallway.
The acoustics of the basketball court – and the very shrill whistles of the referees – made the bouts difficult to follow, and I still don’t think I get the rules, so I’m not sure how well this works as an introduction to the actual mechanics of roller derby. As a show of skill and community, though, it was a fascinating look at a game I’ve only had the vaguest idea about previously, and if nothing else, it showed that derby seems like a blast to play.