Roller Derby Xtreme

Book now! Local derby girl “Ale Mary” Bolling meets a couple of wheel-deal Americans set on world domination – and first, they’ll take Melbourne

This event has finished

Is there anyone left who hasn’t heard of roller derby? If they are out there, fearsome New Yorker Fisti Cuffs hasn’t met them. Probably just as well – for them.

The Gotham Girls Roller Derby skater is in Melbourne with Gori Spelling of the LA Derby Dolls. They’re previewing Roller Derby Xtreme: a spectacular banked track (velodrome) version of the popular women’s sport.

“The past two weeks I’ve been in five countries because of roller derby,” says Fisti. And she’s made a discovery: “Everywhere you go, most people do seem to know what roller derby is – it’s very exciting!”

But maybe not so surprising – the 1930s exhibition sport has seen a decade-long revival, led by determined ladies with a thirst for full contact. While the sight of feisty females in fishnets undeniably helps sell the spectacle, Fisti says it’s the high energy and big hits that get fans hooked.

“Initially, everyone thinks of old-school derby – so first you have to explain it’s not scripted or choreographed, there’s actually a lot of athleticism,” she says. “I haven’t worn fishnets in like, six years!” (Image doesn’t take a back seat, though – lining up for photos in Fitzroy alley, Fisti suddenly halts. “Actually, can I swap sides? This ink is new – I want to show it off!”)

In this born-again amateur sport, veterans are anyone who can count their competing years on more than one wrist-guarded hand. Yet Gori and Fisti struggle to remember a time before they started skating.

“Life was boring before derby!” says Gori, who’s even met her 90210 namesake since starting her skating career in 2006. Fisti laughs – “I remember my childhood, I guess.”

Hundreds of Melbourne derby girls have also got the bug – since 2007, they’ve been flocking to compete in flat track derby. The Americans merrily warn that witnessing banked track will only step up the obsession.

“It’s such a faster game, skaters can get up to 25 or 30 miles an hour with a whip,” says Gori, describing a skater being accelerated by a teammate’s assist. “The track’s at 35 degree angle, there’s a four-and-a-half foot drop – it just feels like a battle ground!”

Going into the battle, the LA Derby Dolls play the Gotham City Roller Derby girls, in six big nights around Australia. “This sort of playoff series is completely unprecedented,” says Fisti gleefully.

Don't forget to support your local teams as well. The grand final of the Victorian Roller Derby League is held on November 24. 

First published on . Updated on .

By Mary Bolling   |   Photos by Graham Denholm   |  

Roller Derby Xtreme video

Roller Derby Xtreme details

Hisense Arena


Address
Olympic Boulevard

Melbourne 3000

Transport
Nearby Stations: Flinders St; Richmond; Jolimont

Telephone 03 9286 1600

Price from $44.00 to $149.00

Date Fri 23 Nov 2012

Open 7pm

Hisense Arena details

Melbourne area guide

Restaurants near Hisense Arena

The Tippler and Co

1015m - Coming to East Melbourne, The Tippler & Co is aiming to be a laid back...

Bacash

1162m - Head to South Yarra’s Bacash restaurant for the ultimate fine dining...

Richmond Hill Café and Larder

1204m - Grab a seat for a breakfast dessert of caramelised banana and pecan praline...

Bars & pubs near Hisense Arena

The Precinct Hotel

992m - Established in 1926 The Precinct Hotel is a family owned pub that is known...

The Botanical

1185m - The Botanical is a Melbourne institution on the south-eastern side of the...

Richmond Hill Cellars

1193m - If the wine runs out between dinner and dessert then the guys at Richmond...

Other venues near Hisense Arena

AAMI Park

201m - Conceived and developed for Melbourne's burgeoning rugby and soccer scene,...

National Sports Museum

291m - Bradman's baggy green cap, Bart Cummings' collection of Melbourne Cups,...

Olympic Park

321m - Just a five minute walk from Melbourne's CBD, Olympic Park hosts an array of...

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus
 


© 2007 - 2014 Time Out Group Ltd. All rights reserved. All material on this site is © Time Out.