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Click above to buy tickets for the Boston Derby Dames August 15 games. Click here to buy tickets for the Boston Derby Dames July 18 games.
In the midst of the Great Depression, as millions of people lost their homes and jobs, some looked to God. Some looked to Benny Goodman. Everyone else played roller derby. Today’s Groupon dampens depression woes (economic and emotional) with an $8 ticket to Boston Derby Dames. Roller derby, the contact sport based on formation roller skating around an oval track, emerged from skating races in the late 1800s. During the Depression, unemployed folks increasingly participated in prolonged dance marathons. The Depression era spectator appetite for preposterous endurance gradually became more and more vulgar, eventually added roller skates, and became roller derby.
Derby was reborn in the early 2000s as a ferociously fun sport. Nearly all modern leagues are composed of female, DIY-spirited bands of punky costumed, vicious-monikered (like Kitty Twister) rascals who shove each other on traditional quad roller skates. The Dames, Boston’s only all-female flat-track roller derby league, is owned and operated by the more than 50 skaters who makeup its four teams: the Cosmonaughties, Nutcrackers, Wicked Pissahs, and Boston Massacre (the traveling team). And the ladies are as tough as they sound. They leave bouts with sprained shoulders, bruises, and hematomas, which is nothing compared to the competitors’ pain (at the beginning of the 2009 season, Boston Massacre was in the top three teams in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s Eastern Region).
The Derby Dames skate twice every month at Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington at 99 Fordham Rd. Bouts consist of two thirty minute periods plus half time. This Groupon is good for bouts on either of these days:
- July 18: Boston Massacre vs Duke City’s Munecas Muertas at 5 p.m.; Nutcrackers vs Wicked Pissahs at 7 p.m.
- August 15: Wicked Pissahs vs Cosmonaughties at 5 p.m.; Boston Massacre vs Detroit Derby Girls at 7 p.m.
Q: Is this a Groupon to a sporting event or an outlandish cabaret?
A: A roller derby bout is played between two teams of five skaters each: a pivot, three blockers, and one point-scoring player, the jammer. Jammers score points each time they pass an opponent. Bouts are divided into two 30-minute periods composed of an unlimited number of “jams,” which can last up to two minutes. You’ll get a card that explains the intricate rules (whipping a teammate? legal. tripping? no way!). Not that you’ll need it to enjoy the wildly entertaining spectacle of Killary Clinton trying to take down Dreadnought. Know that the Dames’ debut bout in ‘06 sold out all 625 tickets in 20 minutes, so 500 derby-rabid fans (who didn’t have this Groupon) couldn’t get tickets and were left in the roller dust.
The Boston Derby Dames are media darlings. They’ve been cheered on by The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix, Weekly Dig, Bostonist, and even Newsweek. What are they saying? > * This isn’t your grandpa’s flat-track roller derby of the 1920s. The Dames are all-female, and the league, organized and run by the players, has a DIY punk-rock feel… The bouts look like a vicious combination of playground games: Red Rover meets tag meets a three-legged relay race, all on quad-wheel skates and with a healthy dose of hip-checks and ripped fishnets. Derby, however, is not child’s play. To these players, derby is life. – The Boston Globe
Thirty-four Yelpers give Boston Derby Dames a perfect five stars with enthusiastic swears. Here’s what they’re saying:
- Slap me now, and call me an addict. This here is some mighty fine roller derby. The dames are kick a**, theatrical and amazingly athletic. – Ligaya T.
- An explosion of hardcore ladies on wheels, checking each other, landing in the crowded bleacher seats…It’s some sort of weird circus/ultimate fighting, dizzying affair not to be missed. – Emily R.
- Way to rock my face off ladies!…Cheap beer, snack bar fare, old men in funny hats and even a band playing to boot. – Chrissy G.
Other Games Invented During the Great Depression
Not only was the Great Depression a period of extreme unemployment and sad black-and-white photos, it was also a period of prolific game invention. Americans used their newfound free time and resourcefulness to come up with fun low-cost Depression-diversions:
- Connect Two: An early version of Connect Four.
- Depression Ballet Competitions: Similar to modern gymnastics, only participants appear sadder, dance to melancholy music, and have their scores determined by counting the judges’ tears.
- Stickball: Two teams of 30 players, each armed with a broom handle or tree branch, play one inning of baseball-like hitting and catching, and then a very different second inning involving a race to hunt, capture, kill, skin, gut, season, and cook a rat.