Monday, August 20, 2007
Roller Derby Action
Our friend Dayala called Saturday afternoon and asked if we'd be interested in seeing the Bay City Bombers roller derby team that evening.
It was being held in the Bombers' ancient haunts of Kezar Pavilion at the edge of the Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park, and the place felt like walking into a literal time warp.
The Bombers were playing against the Chicago Pioneers, one of the revived mixed-gender "professional" roller derby teams that reconstituted in the late 1990s.
It seems that roller derby started during the Depression as an offshoot of the marathon dance craze and over the decades it peaked as an entertainment during the early days of television in the 1950s and 1960s (click here for an interesting Wikipedia article on all the various leagues and schisms).
The sport has died any number of times and presently has mostly revived with all-female leagues raced on flat tracks rather than the traditional mixed-gender banked track affair we were seeing that is an odd mixture of serious athleticism and "sports entertainment" like professional wrestling.
The teams were an interesting mixture of legendary old stars and young people who were being mentored in the Roller Derby Way of Life...
...with its skaters flipping dramatically over the rails and into the crowd...
...lots of fisticuffs...
...and plenty of outrageous drama over the course of eight separate periods that alternated between genders while keeping a cumulative score.
The tickets were cheap if you bought them in advance, $10 for adults and $5 for kids, and the crowd was half the fun with the large, scary woman above taunting the Pioneers and leading the audience in chants of "Let's Go, Bombers, Let's Go!"
There were also more family groups of more ethnicities than I've ever seen at a public event in San Francisco, and everyone seemed to get along famously.
The greatest moment for me was at intermission just before the second half when the Bombers' captain was being honored for his decades of service to the sport and its revival, and after a long speech was awarded with a monstrously large trophy.
This apparently so enraged The Bad Guy of the Pioneers, an excellent athlete/villain named Trujillo (#58 above), that he walked over to the Bombers' captain, grabbed the trophy out of his hand, and proceeded to smash the thing into small pieces all over the rink at which point mayhem ensued.
We were duly informed that Trujillo had received a $500 fine "PLUS the full replacement cost of the trophy."
The match finally wound down to the last minute and a half with the Bombers six points behind, but the gentleman above managed to leap over the entire pack at one point which had been conveniently tackled from behind. He then lapped the pack again and proceeded to climb on top of the rail and somehow skate around them, scoring 10 points in the last seconds and thereby bringing joy to the home fans.
Afterwards, the fans and the players joyfully hung out with each other, and Dayala drove us home, remarking "that definitely exceeded expectations." The next match at the same place with the same teams is Saturday, October 13 and I can't recommend it highly enough (click here for the Bay City Bombers website).