Last night, Anne and I went to watch Roller Derby (which doesn't, by the rules of English grammar, need to be capitalized, but by the rules of capitalizing Things What Are Awesome does) live for the very first time.
I used to watch it on TV when I was a kid, and grew out of it the same time I grew out of wrestling, for pretty much the same reasons, so each time my friend Burns, who is a referee at the Doll Factory, told me to come watch a derby, I always had something else to do.
About a week ago, Burns told us that he'd get us VIP tickets if we wanted to come out. He promised us that we'd have a good time. Anne and I have been looking for excuses to get out of goddamn fucking suburbia lately, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to see something our friend loves, experience something new, and get out of goddamn fucking suburbia all at once.
We fought through horrible are-you-fucking-kidding-me-it's-7pm-on-a-Saturday traffic (we can't move away from Los Angeles soon enough) and walked into the Doll Factory just before 7:30. I instantly fell in love with the scene: an incredibly diverse crowd of enthusiastic, interesting people mingled around The Doll Mall, a room off to one side of the main building where artists and vendors had all sorts of cool stuff for sale. Skaters from both teams cruised around, talking to fans and each other, and the vibe was overwhelmingly positive.
We found Burns, found our seats, paid way too much for two Newcastles (not the Dolls' fault, apparently, but come on, vendors: $7 for one can of beer is bullshit) and got ready for the derby to start. Checking Twitter, I learned that the people sitting next to me were friends of @Mickipedia, putting them one degree from me through a bunch of different friends, including Sean Bonner, who I've concluded is the nexus of awesome in Los Angeles.
(Fun fact: About two weeks ago, I taunted Paul F. Tompkins during his hilarious #verifypft efforts that I'd get reverified before he got verified. I didn't think it would actually happen, but I sat next to @trammell who works for Twitter, and he was able to speed up my process. I got reverified this morning. Your move, @PFTompkins.)
Just before 8, the derby started. The Dolls' fielded an all-star team called the After Shockers, while Arizona brought the Derby Dames. The match was a blowout – LA won by something like 80 points – but it didn't seem to bother either team, because it was obvious that everyone was having a hell of a good time. All the girls skated like they meant it, and I'm pretty sure most of them are feeling it today, because they beat the shit out of each other for every point.
Unlike the televised stuff I watched in the late 70s and early 80s, this was not scripted or planned or faked or stupid, and by the end of the first quarter, the only thing I regretted about coming to the derby was waiting so long. The entire experience was amazing, from beginning to end, and did I mention that the girls are incredibly sexy? Because holy shit, you guys.
Now that our kids are grown and becoming more independent, Anne and I finally have time for ourselves that we haven't had for over a decade. In the absence of being full-time parents, we're starting to miss all the art and culture that we used to experience before we moved out here for the schools. We both feel like we've been trapped in a Suburban world bounded by responsibility, yard work and the mall, and the only road out is so choked with traffic, taking it is an aggravating ordeal that's barely worth the effort … but I keep thinking about the quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off about life moving by pretty fast, and I'm not quite ready to resign myself to missing it. Going to the Roller Derby last night, and being around all the non-suburbanized people there felt foreign and familiar and inspiring, all at once. It viscerally reminded me of all the things I've been missing, and I can't wait to go back.
Seriously, guys, if you live anywhere near roller derby, it's really worth making the effort to go and see it in person, at least once. Unless, as I said on Twitter last night, you hate things that are awesome.