The Derby Girls of Minneapolis Are Grit on Roller Skates
Elbows are flying, roller skates are slapping against the track, and the stadium crowd is erupting with cheers for their favorite players. If you’re looking for Minneapolis activities that skew toward the athletic and gritty, roller derby might the the answer. And luckily for locals, the North Star Roller Girls call Minneapolis their home base. Here’s what you need to know about the sport before you go see a game.
How It Started
Roller derby’s popularity has really skyrocketed in the past decade or so, but its peculiar brand of carnage first wheeled its way onto the rink about 80 years ago. According to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA)—roller derby’s largest governing body, of which the Roller Girls are members—the popularity of roller derby boomed in the 1940s when the sport rolled onto television screens, but then it waned in the 1960s. After several revival attempts, the sport has been experiencing a resurgence since the early 2000s; the North Star Roller Girls burst onto the scene and have been hosting Minneapolis events since 2006. And they have company—over in St. Paul, the Minnesota RollerGirls have been competing in roller-derby bouts since 2004.
What It’s Like
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that roller-derby leagues refer to their matches as bouts: the modern game is a fast-paced, full-contact sport that pits teams of five skaters against each other in a battle for speed and positioning. During competition, designated blockers congregate in a pack, where they push, shove, and bully each other in order to clear lanes for their team’s selected jammer. Jammers, in turn, attempt to maneuver through the pack as many times as possible, earning a point every time they lap a member of the opposition.
The Local Scene
The North Star Roller Girls have two traveling teams of top-tier skaters who compete in national bouts. But during home matches at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, the league’s four teams—Delta Delta Di, The Kilmore Girls, Banger Sisters, and Violent Femmes—compete for bragging rights. And if you think the team names sound menacing, just wait till you see the names on the backs of the derby uniforms. A typical bout might see players like Kee Lime Die, Ally McSteel, and Jowanna Beat Down.
Roller derby isn’t confined to any one demographic, but across the country, participation tends to be primarily female. Not so in Minneapolis, however, where the Roller Girls are joined by Minnesota Men’s Roller Derby and their all-star team, the Twin Cities Terrors.
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