I was busy selling The Butcher a t-shirt, while Smackagawea reorganized the merchandise. On my other side, Lipstyx and E-Teez were talking fanny packs when Medusa walked by, deep in conversation with one of the boys from Blitzdkreig. No, this wasn't some kind of fantasy convention. It was the first day of BrewHaHa, the Midwest's big, bad roller derby tournament, and we were having a blast. Roller derby, for those who don't know, is a full contact sport played on a flat, circular skate track. Teams of five batter each other senseless in rapid-fire bouts. Jammers score the points, one per enemy player passed. Blockers blow holes in enemy defenses, or do their best to sit on the opposing team's jammer. Pivots are tricky chameleons, waiting to be passed the Jammer Panties. To say the sport is flamboyant would be a criminal understatement, with its riotous outfits and wild pseudonyms. It's dominated by women, but there is growing interest for men's teams, as well as mixed and junior league play. And the BrewHaHa was a hell of a showcase: 30 teams, 40 bouts, crammed into a single weekend of derby madness.
Did I mention that Erin's a derby superfan? She got hooked on the sport in Korea and skated with ROKD (Republic of Korea Derby - now sadly defunct). When we got back to the US, birthplace of the sport, Erin had to find a way to stay involved. For her birthday, we got her a set of skate pads so she could sign up for the Brewcity Bootleggers, Milwaukee's rec league.
Which was how she found out about BrewHaHa. It was held at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena this past weekend, June 3rd through the 5th. Erin and I volunteered to help out at the merch table in exchange for free admission. After selling t-shirts, we ducked into the arena. The Brewcity Bruisers had a double-header, first against the Naptown Roller Girls out of Indianapolis, then against Grand Raggidy from Grand Rapids.
Both bouts were high-scoring, kinetic fun.
The Bruisers' jammers had some good breakout moments.
During a timeout, I caught the huddle chant for the Bruisers: "Brewcity Bruisers, Beer! Beer! Beer!" It got the team pumped but left at least one fan a little bored.
Even the refs got in on the badass pseudonyms.
The score jostled back and forth in both teams' favor. The Bruisers played like heroes, but lost their bouts. We stayed 'til the last hurrah and were surprised three hours had passed.
The Bruisers maintain four teams plus the Micro Brew junior league. If you're in Milwaukee, come see a game. Or check out the derby scene in your local community. There are more than 300 teams all over the world. The sport was even considered for the 2020 Olympics.
Roller derby owes its existence to volunteer enthusiasm. From the refs to the players to the folks selling team shirts, nobody's getting paid. People show because they believe in it and because it's a hell of a lot of fun. Derby afficionados are passionate, and it shows. It's an awesome way to spend an evening.
For more info on derby, visit the Brewcity Bruisers on the web. Or check out the men's league, the Milwaukee Blitzdkrieg. They're both awesome. We even have a friend playing for the Blitzdkrieg (congratulations to Lemme Adam on his first concussion sit-down, by the way - glad it wasn't an actual concussion).