We never thought we would go to a roller derby contest, but that’s where we found ourselves Saturday night as we were roped in by one of our veteran roller derby attendee friends. Though a little skeptical at first, we were definitely glad we went and think it might just be worth going back again.
The first thing to know about Baltimore’s own Charm City Roller Girls – an all-female league of rollers with creative names like Flo Shizzle and Dolly Rocket – is that if you attend a match, you must get decked out in your favorite team’s colors. That means we got all dolled up in pink and black to root on the Junkyard Dolls – yes that’s their actual name which we think is very hardcore. Then know that when you arrive at the arena you will be in for a sporting event unlike many with cheap beer and floor seats so close to the action the girls actual run into you when they go down. Plus with crazy fans and even crazier announcers, there’s really no shortage of game-time excitement.
The bout, as they call it, featured four teams in two one v one matches. The first two teams take to the rink and during their half-time the next two start their first half. (This is actually a brilliant idea and some little leagues and professional teams could definitely benefit from a format like this.) The game is rough, no doubt about it, but it wasn’t the all-out brawl we thought it would be. The game actually has a lot of strategy to it as teammates form blocking lines to prevent the other team from scoring and penalties are common though not for things like punching or scratching as you might imagine. (The rules state you can’t extend your arms to push someone away from you – and this was the type of foul we saw most often.) And don’t worry if you’re like us and had no idea what was going on at first. The concept of the game is pretty simple and you’ll pick up on the basic scoring rules pretty quick. (Plus, they give you a cheat sheet in the program.)
The best part about the night, aside from the fact that our Junkyard Dolls crushed their opponenets, was the crazy and fun atmosphere the arena becomes during the matches. The announcers (who were each about 5 beers in) were hilarious and witty, and their play by play was actually entertaining and accurate, unlike so many of those for the more money-driven professional sports (that’s right Madden I’m talking to you!) They even got the crowd to do the wave during a timeout. The fans are great too as they cheer so loudly for their teams and with the combination of kids, parents, college students, and all those 20-somethings with their beers, it made for quite an interesting mix of chants and intensity.
The bouts are only about 2 and a half hours and for just $10 you get to see 2 great matches. Plus, these girls are some of the best in the nation as they compete in national tournaments and put up great showings against east coast rivals. Located near the Canton and Fells Point Area, the Charm City Roller Girls offer a night of intense athletic competition and a fun, entertaining environment to make taking in a game the perfect way to spend a Saturday night.