Last updated on 24/07/2015
Roller derby @ Bruxelles : Brussels Derby Pixies
If you expect us to talk about wriggling babes in mini-shorts, go your way! Thursday night, during the roller derby league’s "Brussels Derby Pixies" training session, we saw ladies barded with protection and ready to ruthlessly bump into each other for the sake of victory. And let's face it, this is not so vintage in the end. Meet Margaux Legroux, a pixie among the others.
Where does roller derby come from ?
Margaux Legroux : Roller derby was a show type sport in the 30’s. It was a race on skates where the slowest blocked the fastest in order to win the race. From the 60’s to the 80’s, it has become more of a show than a sport. Players pushed one another to generate a reaction from the public.
Can we say that roller derby is vintage then?
M.L. : I think the mere fact of being on skates, just like at the beginning in the 20’s, is a rather vintage act. The second correlation that can be made between roller derby and vintage is the"do it yourself" factor that is very present in both. I would just like to clarify that between roller derby of the 20’s and today's, exists a whole different world. The evolution was made in the 2000’s in Texas: new rules to bring roller derby up to date appeared and made a real sport. Now, if vintage can bring new people to be interested in roller derby, I think that’s cool.
Can you explain what roller derby is today?
M.L. : You should know that it is very complicated, there are more than 50 pages of rules to know by heart before even hoping to play your first game! The new recruits, called "Fresh Meat" must wait between 6 and 9 months before playing a real game. The big difference with roller derby from the 60’s to the 80’s is that it is no longer a show, it is a real contact sport on skates that requires endurance and to surpass oneself. Protections (elbows-knees-helmets-teeth) are also part of this renewal and are especially needed!
In a few words, can you explain the course of a match?
M.L. : Two teams of five players compete on the track. Each team consists of four blockers who form the pack and a jammer. The pack gets on the starting line, the pivot, and starts at the first blow of the whistle. Once they have crossed the line, the jammers have their turn. Their goal is to pass the pack, the first to accomplish this is called the leadjammer and, as the leader, has the opportunity to stop the game whenever she wants. With every girl on the opposing team passed by the jammer, the team earns a point. The aim of the pack is to obviously block the jammer of the opposing team without using hands or feet or touching her back. Safety is very important in roller derby, at the slightest felony, the one at fault will be sent to"jail." The game consists of two main phases of 30 minutes which are themselves composed of sets of 2-minute jams followed by 30 second breaks. It's very exhausting, demands immense concentration and is a continuous sprint on the track. It is for this reason that, at the end of the jam, another team takes the field.
How does one come to say "I want to do roller derby?"
M.L. : It depends on how we discover this sport, mostly via reports or mouth-to-ear. I would still like to say that despite many movies or stories that show the opposite, roller derby no longer holds a rockabilly/punk image, at least not in our league. It is true that it is in this world that it all started but the girls do not come from that world at all. It is confusing today. Some think it's cool, but no one wants to be associated with pin-ups anymore. But I can only speak on behalf of the Brussels Derby Pixies.
In comparison to other sports, what are its advantages?
M.L. : I think one of its most appreciated values is respect. As this notion is becoming lost, both in life and in sport, I find that it is very present with our players. There is also much mutual assistance, even between different leagues. Gloria Rojas Galvez