2.44p m Sunday afternoon (6.16am Monday morning in the Barossa), East Walton Place (just behind Water Tower Square), Chicago downtown, Illinois, USA
So goodbye yesterday to the Sunshine Steamy State. I took the 3 hour aeroplane ride from Fort Lauderdale up to Sweet Home Chicago and had the great pleasure of putting on my long sleeves and jersey for the first time in weeks! 7 degrees C and loving it.
As soon as I get into town, I always read the local free paper, and as luck would have it, last night was the last home season match for the Windy City Rollers – Chicago’s premier all-girl flat track roller derby team. Now for the last three months I’ve been reading in the free papers about the roller derby revival that’s been going on in the US (starting in Austin, Texas), and seeing as I’m a big fan of Jim Croce, I always liked his song “The night that I fell in love with a roller derby queen” – so I took the opportunity to go and have a look at this thing up close. When I got to the UIC centre downtown, I got my first surprise – there were queues for the tickets. Inside, I reckon there were about 3 or 4 thousand people there for the match. Good thing I went, because it took me about 5 minutes flat to see why everyone was there – a really mixed crowd including a heap of families – I got hooked properly!
Here’s how it works. The girls are in sets of 5 per team (there’s about 20 – 25 gals total per team) for each 2 minute jam. Each team has 4 gals (a pivot and 3 blockers) in the pack, and a jammer that starts from behind the pack. The whistle goes, and the pack starts to move around the oval track, then seconds later the two jammers take off and chase the pack. The idea is for the jammers to compete with each other to thread their way through the pack first. This decides the lead jammer, who is then eligible to score. They fly around the track to recatch the pack, then every gal in the opposite team that the jammer passes – is a point scored. Now whilst all this is going on, the teams are trying to knock each other out (literally) and block the pathway of the jammers. And it all happens with 2 minutes to score as many passes as possible. It’s pretty exciting stuff.
Last night’s bout was between the Windy City Rollers Allstars (Chicago) and the Rose City Rollers Wheels of Justice (Portland, Oregon). The WCR are going to be my team to follow, so sportsfans we’ll have a whole new season to follow in 2010, as this is the end of the season for 2009. But check out some of our gals – great characters – Varla Vendetta (11 point single jam last night – that’s big), Ruth Enasia, Hoosier Mama, Malice with Chains, Blossom Bruiso, Georgia on yer behind! Magic! Some of the gals on the Portland team were pretty good too – JK Rolling, Madame Bumpsalot, Ma Rollin Monroe! Oh and by the way – the WCR got up over the Wheels of Justice last night and are off to the National Titles. Good luck to the gals, we’ll follow your progress, and like they say “Talk derby to me!”
Now back to the main event – the wine. I still have some neat stuff to catch up on from Florida, because we had a lot of good things happen. I’m on some other nearby hotel’s free wireless hookup thing, so before they discover me as an illegal infiltrator I’ll post these all in blocks. Be back soon.