Sure, you can call Roller Derby Grrls feminists or punks. Or you can just admit that you’re jealous that they have more fun than you. And can quite possibly kick your butt. More than once, if needed. I say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. You’ll have a blast, get a killer workout, and become a skating hellion before you know it (and maybe gain a little Florida spirit while you’re at it). But first, you’ll start out as Fresh Meat. And you never thought you could relive your freshman year again.
3:30 p.m. Snack / The Floridian
1410 E. Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale
With Roller Derby now being an international sport with over 600 leagues in more than 20 countries, it’s time we work on our Florida spirit and be our teams’ biggest fans! Eating at a restaurant called The Floridian should inspire us. Located on Las Olas Boulevard, you can sit outside and enjoy the people-watching and coastal breeze while eating like an All-American grrl. I don’t know about you, but I think a grilled cheese sandwich and french fries sounds like a true dinner of champions. Perfect for a pre-roller derby orientation.
5:30 p.m. Skate / Gold Coast Derby Grrls Fresh Meat Orientation
2604 South Federal Hwy Fort Lauderdale
The FIRST Sunday of every month
Do not underestimate this sport. With Roller Derby beginning in the 1880’s, we should have reason to believe that it had some influence in the ratification of women suffrage at the beginning of the 1920’s (and for that, Roller Derby Grrls, we thank you). With its DIY (do it yourself) ethic, Roller Derby promotes athleticism and the idea that an ordinary person can learn to do more than he or she thought was possible. This also includes fixing your own skates. Basically, it teaches you to stop being such a princess, and DIY.
For orientation, show up at the awesomely painted Gold Coast Skating Rink (also infamous for its INTOXISKATE parties). Walk-in, meet the amazing ladies, other newbies, grab some smelly gear from the back, lace up, and then sit-down. Because you really need to know what’s going on before you start skating on the rink, thinking you’re 13 again, and hurt yourself (or someone else). You’ll get briefed on what Roller Derby is, how to play safely, and what your obligations are as a team player. Then it’s up and at ‘em. And by up and at ‘em, I mean time to practice falling. Hard. But correctly. Over and over again.
Your Fresh Meat leader will teach you four different falling techniques, and you will practice skating, falling, and then getting up. Skating, falling, and then getting up. If this sounds funny, it’s not. It’s actually quite a workout that will have you sweating within seconds. And, when you picture the real thing, it’s kind of scary. When you’re playing, there are normally nine other girls speed skating on a small, tight, track. But, it’s cool to learn their tricks. Next you’ll practice different methods of stopping and you’ll do a few rounds of an obstacle course of sorts. Then, you’re ready to join the ‘graduated’ Fresh Meat (who, have basically been partaking in a major boot camp style workout without skates).
On the track, you skate. And skate some more. You skate low. You skate high. You skate and fall. And then get up (you have 3 seconds for this part) and skate again. You skate fast. You skate slow. And then you skate fast, again. Even for an athletic girl, this is enough to give you a side cramp. But it is so much fun. And it’s hard to make yourself stop. Flying through the air. Dropping it like it’s hot. Racing other Fresh Meat. It’s an amazing thrill.
You end the night with a quick and fun five lap race between you and one other Fresh Meat. A good score is five laps in 1 minute. A stellar score is doing it in 30 seconds. Then it’s team stretch. And then, it’s time to clean up and go home. When the lights go off, it’s a sad moment. But we have a feeling you’ll be back. Us Grrls gotta stick together (and kick some non-Floridian butts)!
9 p.m. Drinks / Elbo Room
241 South Fort Lauderdale Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale
Since elbow room is basically what you’ll be fighting for on the rink, why not toast to it at its namesake bar (kind of)? Enjoy live music, ocean breeze and a cold one as you reminisce about that one amazing time you spent at a Roller Derby practice. And how much you can’t wait for next Sunday when you get to do it all over again. If only there was such a thing as a second Sunday…
Note: Before you go to your Fresh Meat Orientation, it’s probably a good idea to take a few hours and remember what it’s like to be on skates. Luckily, Miami has the perfect place for that: Super Wheels (superwheelsmiami.com) located at 12265 Southwest 112th Street, Miami. It’s $12 to skate and Monday nights from 7:30 p.m. – midnight is adult-only skate night. Apparently they also have great pizza. Oh, and air hockey tables. What’s not to love?