Who are these women, these women who have become intoxicated by roller skates, bruising physical contact, and their little band of gnarly rink sisters?
Good luck trying to define the average Dub City Derby Girls player. They’re as different as their colorful, and often salty skating names.
One look at Jessica “Elastic Ass” Rivera, the 30-year-old Delray Beach graphic designer and player-coach, and you might imagine that this is a sport for lean, young women with multiple arm tattoos.
“It used to be that everybody you saw at a fetish party, you’d saw at roller derby,” Rivera says. “But not any more.”
A few feet away, lacing up her skates is Amy Lowe, who is 48 years old, and the mom of a 23-year-old daughter who used to go to school with one of Lowe’s roller derby teammates.
It’s easy to imagine Lowe as a paralegal for FPL, which is what she does during the day. But here in the Palm Beach Skate Zone in suburban Lake Worth, where the team practices and plays its home games, she suits up as “Hellon Skates.”
She may be smaller and older than most of her teammates, but be advised this is a woman who has already broken an ankle and torn up a knee with roller derby — and she’s still lacing up her skates.
“I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t doing this,” Lowe says.
This isn’t the old banked-track roller derby that used to be a kind of pro-wrestling on skates. There’s nothing faked or staged about this sport. Dub City is part of the Women’s Flat Track Women Derby Association, a national organization that serves as a governing body for hundreds of teams.
The women skate oval loops on a narrow track, trying to get their skaters called “jammers” past the opposing team’s “blockers” to score points. It’s a game of strategy and lots of legal body contact that frequently sends players flopping out of bounds or tumbling on each other like human bowling pins.
That’s the part of the sport that appeals to Julia Belcher, 25, a promotions director for a radio station who drives 40 miles each way from her home in Jensen Beach to be a Dub City player. Belcher played volleyball in college, but she found out she likes roller derby much more.
“You can’t touch anybody in volleyball,” she says. “And in some other sports, you chase some ball around all day and don’t see any results from your effort. But when you knock somebody down, you see the results immediately.”
Belcher’s derby name is “Vulvarizer.”
“I knew I wanted a genital or menstrual cycle name,” she says.
And “Great Wall of Gina” was already taken by a player on another team.
For Jenny Matthews, 37, a Jupiter stay-at-home mom, her nights and weekends playing roller derby is more than sport. Matthews grew up roller skating as a child and was a performer on “RollerJam”, a late-1990s TV show that presented a cartoonish, choreographed version of the game.
Matthews likes this real version of roller derby better.
“It’s intense,” she said. “You kind of feel like a bad ass and the relationships you have with your teammates is like a family.”
For more information on the team and its schedule, go towww.dubcityderbygirls.com