I’m spreadeagled on the floor. This is not exactly how I’d imagined my first foray in roller skating as an adult. I kind of thought I would be … well … good, I guess. I had roller skates as a child – isn’t it like riding a bicycle? Apparently not, because three minutes into skating I have fallen. On the bright side, no one is laughing at me.
That was a few months ago. The Cape Town Rollergirls had organised a skating night, where everyone was welcome and falling was not frowned upon. There were disco balls, flashing lights and old-school music. There was a girl there who looked like she’d stepped out of a 1950s pin-up magazine and another girl who held my hand for three loops after I fell.
So when I heard they’re hosting a roller derby at the end of the month, I got really excited.
It’s the last Friday Night Derby of 2014 and the theme is Rocktober so be sure to clear your schedule and head out to Sunningdale Sports Complex. As anyone who has watched Whip It and loved it knows, roller derby is a speed-skating competition on roller skates. The Betty Blues are taking on The Metal Maidens and it’s bound to be a showdown of note.
Ming-Cheau Lin of Cape Town Rollergirls explains it to me: ‘Our Friday Night Derby is a concept we came up with to provide our skaters, who are cleared for contact, to have gaming practice and experience. These are mixed teams, comprising rookies (who’ve just been cleared for contact), level 1 skaters (who are all in home teams already) and visiting skaters who are clear for contact and are in the city while the game is on. Our coaching and training chair slots skaters into the different teams to ensure there’s a balanced level of skill, and enough point scorers (jammers) and defence (blockers) for each side.’
If watching this doesn’t make you happy, nothing will. To add to the merriment, there’s a bar, food for sale and you could win a cool CTR merch hamper for best dressed. And if all goes to plan you can watch people fall over and hopefully not do it yourself.
Photography Bev Meldrum