Chances are if you live in Eugene, you’ve heard of the Emerald City Roller Girls. But, did you know there is a men’s roller derby league in town? The Lane County Concussion were established in 2009 and are still relatively small compared to their older sister league. This Saturday night, the Concussion hope to help build support for their league with a fundraiser showing of the documentary This Is How I Roll.
Flat-track roller derby was created in 2001 as a predominantly women’s sport. According to This Is How I Roll, there are over 25,000 flat-track roller derby players in the world. 98% of those players are women. This Is How I Roll is about the other 2% and their struggles to play the sport they love. Men were a part of the sport from the beginning filling roles as referees and coaches, but seeing how much fun the ladies were having, it was only natural to want to play.
From the very first bout in 2007 between the Pioneer Valley Dirty Dozen of Massachusetts and the New York Shock Exchange, there was a lot of disdain toward men playing roller derby. Roller derby legend Bonnie Thunders articulates the many facets of the female backlash to men’s derby, including that roller derby is “our sport”: men need to create their own. Pioneer Valley’s Bazooka Joe and Dr. Spankenstein do a great job of voicing the men’s viewpoint of wanting to work with women to grow the roller derby community in general. They do not want to take anything away from anyone.
This Is How I Roll documents how the attitudes toward men’s roller derby changed over the years. And recently, the women’s governing body, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, announced its support of the Men’s Derby Coalition (now known as “Men’s Roller Derby Association.”) Today, they work together toward bringing roller derby to a larger audience.
Overall, This Is How I Roll is an enjoyable film for anyone of any background. There is a short explanation of how roller derby works at the start, but it is not necessary to appreciate the history of men’s roller derby. The descriptions of the New York Shock Exchange’s growth and men’s roller derby superstar Jonathan R’s involvement in that growth give the viewer an idea of how much work goes into a little bit of glory.
It is well worth the price of admission, which will be $10 at 6:30 this Saturday night, January 26th, at the Bijou. Included in the price of admission is a big bag of gourmet kettle corn from Eugene Kettle Corn. There will also be Mancave beer available for purchase. Tickets are available on-line or at the door.
To make a day of it for area skaters, the Lane County Concussion will also be hosting a co-ed black-and-white scrimmage at the Willamalane Center in Springfield at 3pm on Saturday. If you are a WFTDA/MRDA/USARS-insured skater, bring both black and white scrimmage shirts with your numbers on them and a winning attitude. It is $5 to participate in the scrimmage, or $13 to participate in the scrimmage and to see the movie.
All profits from the two events will be used to help pay for the Lane County Concussion’s track time and their dues to be part of the Men’s Roller Derby Association.