I grew up on punk rock and as such, I’m simply not the type of person who can sit still quietly for any length of time. When the “punk movement” was surging through Southern California in the 80’s and 90’s I attended many shows and engaged in many conversations about “what punk REALLY is.” A good number of people had the “punk is an attitude” philosophy but somehow I sensed this was mostly rhetoric and pontification versus the way people acted in real life.
The truth is, there were unwritten rules about what was “punk” and what was not “punk” and though they may have changed from person to person, they were there nonetheless. There was a dress code and a set of acceptable behaviors. Never once did I see a man in a three-piece suit at a gig, long hair and tans were definitely not “cool” and black was the color of conformity. Oh, and by the way, in many circles if you did anything that might make you money or cause you to be successful (even if it was having a punk band) you were a “sellout.” UGH.
It seems that most groups of people eventually fall into these traps with rigid roles, rules and restrictions, even when their starting premise is freedom of expression. I got disenchanted by the whole punk thing over time, it just didn’t seem vital anymore and I missed the “good old days” where it seemed fun and raw and fresh and creative.
(Open The Wreck’s MySpace page in a new window and listen to Punk is an Attitude off of Not So Quiet on the Western Front while you read the rest of this blog. If you listen while you read it will really enhance the experience. If you like it, buy the single on iTunes.)
Well, all my good feelings about punk and DIY culture and self-expression and hell, even the women’s movement and the civil rights movement, came back when I stepped foot into my first Derby Doll bout at Little Tokyo in April ’07. I fell in love instantly and began skating with Fresh Meat and doing volunteer work almost immediately.
There is so much I could tell you about this DIY operation. SOOO many behind-the-scenes stories just begging to be told but I think I’ll start it all off with a pictorial that captures a tiny bit of the Roller Derby Attitude.
It seems to me that the only people who are not welcome at a Derby Doll bout are those who are under the age of 21 (and I’m sure many of them WISH they could come). Other than that, this is truly an ecclectic, diverse, creative, energetic group of amazing people with almost unanimously great attitudes. I’ll let the pictures tell the story. And when you finish looking at the pictures and start reaching for your wallet to buy tickets for the next bout, go to this link and do it now. It is a life-changing event, trust me. (By the way, you can click on any of the photos below and see a larger version).
Mila Minute fan displays support as crowd looks on. Man with camera documenting roller derby history. It’ll only go up from here.
Part of the reason it will grow is because of Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut of the movie Whip It! starring Ellen Page. The publicity machine is already on the scene and pictures of Drew at the Doll Factory have popped up in People Magazine and on People.com at least twice.
The cookie monster served as the Tough Cookie mascot for the evening. Look closely and you’ll see Drew Barrymore on the right, she is taking research photos and appears to be talking to Ellen Page. Whip it! is a movie about a young girl coming of age in roller derby world.
13th District Los Angeles City Councilmember, Eric Garcetti gets the party started by singing the national anthem to a sold out crowd at the Doll Factory.
And these women? They’re cheering everyone on. It’s girls night out and time for some roller derby fun.
Here’s the type of energy and dedication the skaters have. Everyone in the building is pumped up.
This beautiful young lady is Jodie. She’s the lead singer for the automatic music explosion. Even though she’s getting ready to play a gig, she still finds time to make a sign for her Derby Doll friend, Laura Palm-Her. If you listen to some of the songs on their MySpace page, you’ll get a feel for what it’s like the entire night at a derby bout. They even have a song titled Roller Derby.
There is no size, weight or height requirement in roller derby. If you wanna kick ass on wheels and you’re over 21, come on down. You literally don’t even have to know how to skate to get started.
Here’s a glimpse of the newest Derby Doll team, the Varsity Brawlers. They’ll compete in their first bout in October, 2008. If you’re smart, you’ll get tickets now, before it’s impossible to do so. Heck, the place only holds 1,700 spectators and it sells out quicker and quicker everytime.