Archive for the ‘The Another Derby Series’ Category

Another Derby Extra: The RollerCon Seminar

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Didn’t go to RollerCon this year? Or maybe you were there, and you couldn’t make it to Another Derby: The Seminar.

Well, that is egg on your face. Those who went saw something special, as evidenced by these actual testimonials:

• “That was a fucking AWESOME seminar, thank you!”

• “At least there are people thinking about the big picture. Thanks for continuing to care, WindyMan.”

• “Simply amazing – people who weren’t there don’t know what they missed.

• “Thank you for doing this!”

Regrets? Fret not. Now everyone can get in on the best kept secret in roller derby: Roller derby itself.

Find out the hows and whys of the game, from the pack, to the pivot, to power jams. Discover what all roller derby rule sets, past and present, have in common. Then see how this knowledge can be applied to the modern game in a way that benefits everyone. (WFTDA, I’m looking at you!) Even if you know derby—or rather, if you think you know derby—get ready to love the game you love in another brand-new way.

The 75-minute seminar has been enhanced with full diagrams and video overlays, so you’ll know exactly what’s happening through every concept and video as it’s happening.

Check it out below:

Thanks for watching, and thanks for spreading the knowledge. Knowledge is power!

Another Derby: The Seminar Coming to RollerCon

Good news, RollerCon attendees. You are going to RollerCon!

That’s enough of a reason to be excited. But here’s another: WRDN is also going to RollerCon! And we’re doing a seminar as a part of the Another Derby Series!

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The summarily titled Another Derby: The Seminar will attempt to cram 78 years of roller derby history, game rules, strategy, and videos from both the classic and modern eras of the game into a single hour. In examining the derby rules of the past and comparing them to the rules of the present in another way, we can discover the fundamental concepts of roller derby that persist through all versions of the game.

Whether they be sport or sports entertainment; done for the show or done for the competition; or legitimate or illegitimate, we’ll boil it all down to what the essence of roller derby is all about. That done, we will then then take this knowledge and apply it to the modern game in a way that will hopefully improve it for everyone.

Some of the topics to be covered include:

• The main strategy behind Leo Seltzer‘s original roller derby rules and how USARS is trying to preserve it with theirs

• The changes Jerry Seltzer made to the game in the 1960s and how the resulting pivot strategies apply to MADE (and USARS) roller derby

• How the Japanese solved the power jam problem 20 years ago at the first World Cup, and how the RDCL solved its power jam issues in a similar way

• Why the Rollergames TV show and its figure-8 track, jump ramp, Wall of Death, and alligator pit is truer to the sport of roller derby than the WFTDA—in one way, at least

If you are curious about the full history of roller derby, want to see what roller derby looked like in The Old Times, want to see how and why other modern derby rule sets play the way they do, or just want to discover something new and interesting about the game we all love, this seminar is for you!

Take in the first half of the Arch Rival vs. Rocky Mountain WFTDA game in the challenge bout hall Friday night, then join us outside in Room #115 at 7:30 p.m. You can find the seminar on the RC Google Calendar schedule, here.

In case you can’t be there, or you hate fun and won’t be at RollerCon this year, good news! There are tentative plans to film the seminar for uploading to YouTube at a later date, so everyone can see what it is all about. Or, you can take it all in the old fashioned way by reading the Another Derby Series entries here, starting from the beginning and working up through Chapter 11. Note that Part 4 of the series, consisting of Chapters 12-14, will be coming within the next few months. So look out for that soon.

But if you want to see it all—or at least, most of it—then we will see you in Room #115 on Friday night for Another Derby: The Seminar. Be there, or be somewhere less fulfilling!

Another Derby Extra: The Rollergames TV Show Soundtrack

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This Extra is a part of the Another Derby Series. Click here for the full series index.

Remember the 1989 TV show, Rollergames? You know, the mutant version of roller derby that had a figure-8 track, a jump ramp, and the infamous alligator pit? If you grew up in the 70s or early 80s you’re probably old enough to remember watching it. (If not, be enlightened with Another Derby #2: Rollergames, a WRDN retrospective and appreciation of the insanity that was the TV show.)

Rollergames was extremely well-rated, but financial issues doomed the show to an early death before a full season could be completed. Despite this, the show’s popularity spawned merchandise befitting of the show’s impact: A pinball machine, a Nintendo game, an arcade game—and yes, even a lunch box. If you were good enough to be on a lunch box in the 1980s…

Anyway, no expense was spared in the production of Rollergames. A big part of the show was its music, which included everything from a catchy theme song, intro music for the teams, halftime performances by artists—some of which were also skaters on the show—and even a team with a rock n’ roll theme.

The show also produced a CD soundtrack, which was released in 1989. Because this was early days for the compact disc format, not many copies were produced. Those looking to take a roll down memory lane with the pinball machine, the Nintendo game, and the arcade game need only go to YouTube to see these artifacts in action.

But because the soundtrack was released well before the digital music era, it was impossible to relive the musical memories of Rollergames without getting your hands on a rare, physical copy of the original album. The CD is decades out of print, it’s not (nor will it ever be) available on iTunes, and the original production company behind the album ceased to exist once the television show went under, since they were the same company.

Despite these obstacles, someone has gotten their hands on the rare, physical copy of the original Rollergames soundtrack album. More importantly, that someone was kind enough to rip and share the CD, for all to enjoy. Now, it will forever exist on the Internet.

Let’s get ready to rock!

As a service to this great show, all 13 tracks from the soundtrack are here for the taking. There’s Rock and Rollergames, the show’s rockin’ main theme; the epic rock ballad that is All in the Game, to the amazing/horrible/hilarious Rollergator, the intro music for the alligator.

(Yes, the alligator had its own theme song. This is significant!)

Though the album, and the show itself, was produced at the turn of the decade, the vibe of the music is pure 1980s. It’s schlock, but damn it all, it’s quasi-roller derby schlock, and that should count for something in this day in age.

If you need some unique pre-bout music for your DJs, you want to be the life of your afterparty, or you just want a look back into what music was like three decades ago, check out the album. It’s a part of roller derby history, in the same way that 1980s pop culture is a part of American history. Whatever that means.

Listen to the Rollergames soundtrack on YouTube

Download the Rollergames soundtrack:
256kbps AAC | 128kbps MP3

Rollergames Soundtrack Album Track/Artist List:

  1. Rock and Rollergames – Douglas Cooper Getschal
  2. Hit and Run (Hot Flash Theme) – Tammy Hanson
  3. Kick Butt (Violators Theme) – David Sams
  4. Rock It (Rockers Theme) – Holly Fields, Tammy Hanson, Dar the Star, Debbie Darnell
  5. Rollergator – Douglas Cooper Getschal
  6. Made in the U.S.A. (T-Birds Theme) – Dar the Star
  7. Commissioner’s Theme
  8. All in the Game – Jarrett Michaels
  9. Show Off – Holly Fields
  10. No Brakes (Maniacs Theme) – Douglas Cooper Getschal
  11. Bad Attitude (Bad Attitude Theme) – Tammy Hanson
  12. Out of Control
  13. On the Way to Our Dreams – Douglas Cooper Getschal, Debbie Darnell

A very special thanks to Brian A. for obtaining and sharing this album!

Another Derby #3: Roller Game Japan League

For an introduction, explanation, and chapter index for the Another Derby series, click here. (Make sure you start from the beginning!) For Another Derby bonus content, like photos, rare derby videos, and other nuggets, follow the WRDN Twitter and look for tweets tagged with #anotherderby.

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Modern roller derby.

By most people’s accounts, it began in Texas in 2001, when women began to play the game legitimately for the first time. A year later, flat track roller derby would be invented for the first time, and with that came standardized rules that, among other things, allowed roller derby to be played with just one jammer on the track for the first time. The accessibility of the game eventually allowed everyone—men and women—to play together at the same time, for the first time. The game grew so quickly around the world, a World Cup was commissioned, and teams representing their countries played against one another for the first time.

By most people’s accounts, that’s the history modern of roller derby.

But in reality, the history of modern roller derby, the history of flat track play, the history of power jams, the history of co-ed roller derby, the history of true international play, and the history of legitimate gameplay itself goes back much further than that. In fact, none of these historic firsts in roller derby can even be claimed by the country that invented the game 80 years ago, and re-invented it for the 21st century.

That honor goes to one of the last countries you’d imagine would have a place in roller derby history.

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It’s flat-track co-ed power-jam legit roller derby…in 1988 Japan.

Believe it: Japan gave birth to modern roller derby before there was modern roller derby. Through its own transformation from scripted derby to that of a pure sports league (and an intriguing contemporary prologue) Japan’s branch of derby is a fascinating chapter in the history of the game. If you’ve never heard of it, buckle your seat belt—this is roller derby like you’ve never seen it before.

But before we strap in, let’s travel back to Japan in the early 1970s, to the genesis of what was soon to be the first time real roller derby would become a reality in the modern era…

Chapter 8

Roller Game Japan League: The Battle With Speed and Crash

In 1973, the golden age of derby came to an abrupt end when Jerry Seltzer was forced to shut down his Roller Derby promotion, finally succuming to the financial worries that had plagued him and his father for decades.

On the other hand, Bill Griffiths and his rival Roller Games promotion showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, he could hardly contain the mania to the United States.

A few years after Roller Games had exploded onto the American sports scene, Griffiths partnered with new and existing skating leagues in Canada, Australia, and Japan. The leagues in these four countries joined forces to collectively skate as the National Roller League, or NRL, later to become a part of the greater Roller Games International empire.

Though the number of teams in the international leagues were small compared to the six that Roller Games had stateside, they were very popular, just as popular as their American counterparts. Griffiths took advantage of this fact to set up all-star tours featuring RGI skaters from each of the countries against each other.

Or in the case of the United States, the World-Famous, World-Champion Los Angeles Thunderbirds, who Griffiths made to be America’s Team when it came to roller derby. Their popularity crossed borders, making the T-Birds truly known and loved the world over—or at least, known and loved enough to be able to play in front of sold-out crowds in the countries they toured through.

On one such tour in 1974, the T-Birds traveled to the Land of the Rising Sun to play a series against RGI Japan’s top team, the Tokyo Bombers.

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Another Derby #2: Rollergames

For an introduction, explanation, and chapter index for the Another Derby series, click here. (Make sure you start from the beginning!) For Another Derby bonus content, like photos, rare derby videos, and other nuggets, follow the WRDN Twitter and look for tweets tagged with #anotherderby.

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Imagine, if you will, that it’s the last day of the 2029 WFTDA Championships.

After another crazy weekend of roller derby featuring some of the best teams in the country, Gotham and Oly again find themselves facing each other for the Hydra.

The final game winds up going back and forth the full 60 minutes. Neither team can pull out a comfortable lead. Going into the last jam, the score is tied. Both teams pour on the defense in a desperate push to steal the winning points. Miraculously, the jam goes the full two minutes and no one scores.

It will take sudden-death overtime to settle it.

Do they play one overtime jam to determine the victor, as in the current rules?

No.

How about a five minute overtime period?

No, not that either.

You see, sometime in 2028, the WFTDA adopted controversial new overtime rules. Tired of the same-old passing-for-points system used during regulation, the powers-that-be re-introduced a sudden-death format that was popular with TV rollersports audiences some 40 years earlier.

As the two overtime skaters get ready to do battle, a loud growl can be heard from beneath the stands. Soon after, the stars of sudden death are revealed to the players and the crowd…

The live alligators.

Believe it or not, this was actually A Thing. It was broadcast on syndicated television. Millions of people watched it. Not only that, it was one of the most popular TV shows in its day.

If you grew up in 1980s America, you no doubt remember Rollergames, the derby-like spectacle that featured a figure-8 skating track, a jump ramp that launched skaters into the air, and the super-high banked Wall of Death. Most famously of all, it had an alligator pit in the infield of the track used to break ties in sudden death overtime.

Many skating in the modern game today may remember something about alligators and roller derby crossing paths at one point in the game’s history, but lack the specific details owing to the fact that the TV show is almost 25 years old.

But Rollergames was a more than just a one-off mutant version of roller derby. There’s a rich history behind the promotion that planted its roots in Los Angeles and ended its run after four decades of giving roller derby the Hollywood treatment. And like Hollywood, Rollergames was a heavily-scripted theatrical version of the game. But that doesn’t mean it was completely “fake,” as many in derby today are quick label it.

So let’s climb back into our time machines and set course for California in the middle of the 20th century. The circumstances that led to roller skaters and alligators crossing paths can be traced back to the first time roller derby split into two separate groups with conflicting ideas of how to promote the game…

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Another Derby #1: Classic Roller Derby

For an introduction, explanation, and chapter index for the Another Derby series, click here. Make sure you start from the beginning!

The Another Derby series will be taking a look at all sorts of roller derby variations, from the basic to the complex; the tame to the extreme; from the versions of the sport grounded in reality to fantasy imaginings up to and including those that are not of this world.

The common thread that they all share is that they were inspired by, if not directly based off of, the game invented by Leo Seltzer in the early 20th century.

Today’s legit sporting version of roller derby is in that same boat, a modern update of the game that started it all. Contemporary efforts to make a game that is consistent, fair, and engaging are praiseworthy[1], especially considering the all-volunteer nature of the organizations overseeing things. However, with so many moving parts to worry about and so many voices to consider when updating rules among other things, growth can sometimes be a painful and frustrating process.

At the same time, many people involved with modern leagues want absolutely nothing to do with roller derby’s theatrical past, working under the impression that doing so will make it easier to work towards gaining ground in establishing legitimacy. Completely cutting off ties to the past may indeed be a good thing when it comes to educating people about what today’s game is all about.

On the other side of the coin, there were things in the original form of roller derby, before the game became entertainment-based, that could be of help in today’s drive to improve the game for everyone. Much of the groundwork for a fair set of rules was devised in derby’s pre-history, and ignoring the blueprints of the past, which have been around for more than 75 years, may be a bit narrow-minded.

Regardless of what you think about the old game, there’s no harm in taking the time to see where it all began. The origins of roller derby, its history, and its original rules came about for a reason, and there may be some useful information for today’s roller derby to take from it. Maybe with this extra perspective, everyone in the derby community can help themselves make a better game for everyone—players and fans alike.

So jump into your time-travelling machine of choice, set the dials for the 1930s, and warp back to the first time a new skating sport emerged from a major American economic recession…

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WRDN Presents: The Another Derby Series

What is roller derby?

Seems like a pretty easy question to answer. Most people in the derby community might respond to it with something like this:

Roller derby is a team game played on roller skates where a player from each team has the ability to score points by passing players from the other team, and is a game where teams play offense and defense simultaneously.

For most people, that should be sufficient enough to send them on their way.

But not me.

When I ask, “what is roller derby,” I don’t mean how the game is played.

Nor am I asking for a description of modern derby, the people playing it, the explosive growth of the modern game, or the culture and attitude that permeates through it.

What I really mean is, “why is roller derby?”

In other words: What makes the sport of roller derby, roller derby?

What’s the real reason for having a pivot? If roller derby is supposed to be a game where teams play offense and defense constantly and simultaneously, why do power jams have to be an exception to that? What’s the real difference between “fast derby” and “slow derby?” Why is “the pack” such an important part of making the game work?  What does it really mean to play as a “team” in roller derby?

Just how is this sport actually supposed to work?

Many of the fundamental concepts that make derby what it is are unknown to many, including many of the players playing it. Established team sports like football, hockey, basketball, and soccer have been around for decades, and throughout this time has been built volumes upon volumes of knowledge to refer to when teaching the basics, crafting strategies, and refining rules to play by. Roller derby as we know it today has no such repository.

I think it’s about time I change that.

Roller derby is more than 75 years old. During this time, different people tried making their own versions of roller derby (or something resembling roller derby) to various levels of success.

Since those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and the last thing any of us wants is to see roller derby fade away again, the Another Derby series will highlight six different variations of roller derby that have appeared throughout the years, using the history of the game to demonstrate the concepts behind the sport of derby.

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