At RollerCon 2014, HELLARAD passed out copies of its final issue, issuing the end of an era. Entitled only “The Death of Fun,” this rag mused on what roller derby was like when skaters were less athletic and more drunk, a time when RollerCon was a wild party and “skaters actually played a hangover bout with a hangover.” Now that roller derby game play has reached a new level of athleticism, it requires a stalwart dedication to health and wellness and, as a side effect, quashes the party first lifestyle.
In a little town in South Dakota, however, a wilder derby lives on. Run by Danger Girl of Black Hills Derby, Rolling Sturgis was born 5 years ago out of a desire to offer a clinic-type skating experience to skaters from all around. Co-ed derby players travelling from Wyoming, Canada, California, Colorado, Texas and Wisconsin all paid a reasonable fee to attend the 8-day clinic which coincides perfectly with and is held at the epicenter of the Sturgis annual biker rally. Besides combining one great gathering of people on wheels with another, Danger Girl also brought in top coaches to lead the clinics. Coaches including Quadzilla, Coach Spanx, Coach Lime and Second Hand Smoke also skated in the nightly bouts.
Skaters get a screaming good deal on entry/camping at the Buffalo Chip with one condition--they have to work for it. While participation in nightly bouts is technically optional, the Rolling Sturgis team needs enough skaters, refs and NSOs each night to put on a full bout. Roller derby at the Chip is part of the entertainment offered to guests of the motorcycle rally. After putting on a good bout however, skaters are able to attend all the concerts offered at the venue and have just as much access to the party as the bikers do.
Since inception, the Rolling Sturgis track has been difficult to negotiate. In years past they used a sport court that had to be put up and taken down twice a day because it was being warped by the sun. The new permanent track is painted right on the black top inside the Chip. Designed by SkateMaster, this surface is 100% acrylic coating and offers a smooth ride for 92-95 durometer wheels.
While Sturgis at the Buffalo Chip in its 74th year suffers the fate of most long term gatherings--commercialization--Rolling Sturgis has something special; it is veritable frontier derby, delving into places where derby is mostly unheard of. Even as the clinic grows in popularity, Danger Girl wants to keep it small. Only allowing about 80 to 100 participants, she hopes to preserve the intimate nature of the little derby gem she has created for years to come.