Houston Roller Derby, Kicking Ass and Taking New Last Names
Growing up in the eighties and early nineties was an insane time for us all. Saturday Morning cartoons were more than enough cause to roll out of bed. Some of the greatest pop acts of all time like Michael Jackson and Madonna became show stoppers as they took the stage light. This was all happening while some of the most popular movies to date, “The Breakfast Club” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” were making their debuts. This was also a time when one of the wildest sports to ever be on television, Women’s Roller Derby came into existence.
Being from small towns, we remember not having many options aside from playing outside with our friends; “Can Jimmy come out to play?”. When an enraged mom answered the door and said no because Jimmy hadn’t finished his lunch, that wasn’t an option so we turned to our huge wooden televisions to watch any chaos we could find. After assembling the foiled antennas just right, there it was, Roller Derby in all its glory, filled with crazy clotheslines, body slams, huge hockey-like checks and even an alligator that would “attack” the girls if they were shoved over the railing. We recently took a walk down memory lane and found ourselves, in the flesh, at the Houston Roller Derby at Bayou Music Center Downtown Houston. The night was filled with everything we remember as kids save for that damn alligator. To embody the whole experience, we threw a temper tantrum about it.
2015 Season Opener Bout February 21st, 2015
We arrived at the Bayou Music Center about 30 minutes before the 7:00 p.m. games began and went straight to the bar for a quick drink. The bartender must have thought Rage Against the Machine was playing that night as he held his head high, “Let’s see here, ah double Jack and Coke and a double Tito’s and Water, that’ll be $44.00! Man what an experience it was handing over a $50 dollar bill at a Roller Derby game! Prices weren’t that high in the 80’s, late 90’s! Though the drink prices were enough to choke on, at least the tickets to the event were only $15.00 before tax, and the bartender did have a heavy hand. It ended up being a relatively inexpensive night, so after catching our breath we entered the venue on the bottom level of a very packed house.
All Houston Roller Derby events are open seating, so be sure to arrive early if you want the best seat in the house. Since the floor level was already packed, we made our way up the stairs to a balcony above. In our opinion, balcony seating is the way to go for the Roller Derby. You can see all of the action on the floor from a bird’s eye view so you don’t miss any of the big hits.
The season opener kicked off with a guitar rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” which was the perfect way to initiate this event. Normally this is when the Roller Derby would start, but on this night there was one more activity planned before the bout could begin. Once the guitar solo was over, all of the girls lined in in a semi-circle, middle of the court while two girls stood to one side. The song by Macklemore “Same Love” started playing through the speakers as one girl at a time rolled up to the lone girl on the side and handed her a rose. After she received close to 20 roses, she was surprised to find out that the girl who walked up to her side was asking her to marry her. After an answer of yes and a quick embrace, the match was ready to begin!
Game 1: Bayou City Bosses vs. The Brawlers + Game 2: Psych Ward Sirens vs. The Valkyries
While the girls were warming up the rules were introduced, which seemed easy to understand, but not as easy to follow when they are going around the track so quick. The objective of roller derby is for each team to try to score as many points as possible in the allotted time. Each team has a single point scoring skater called a Jammer whose object is to lap as many opposing skaters as she can. All of the other skaters who aren’t scoring points work both on offense and defense at the same time to block the opposing Jammer and to clear the path for their own Jammer.
As the first bout got under way we sat on the edge of our seats watching the girls whip around the track while heavy metal blared from the speakers. The refs for each bout sat in the middle of the circle and blew their whistle every time a point was scored. We were anything from disappointed as we watched the girls weave in and out of the pack and score points left and right. The only problem was that it was difficult for us to keep up with the scoring because there seemed to be a score every 5 seconds. As we watched the matches we would glance up at the score board and one team would be down by 20 and then 2 minutes later the score would be tied. This also ended up keeping our interest because no team was ever out of the match.
Overall, the night was filled with all of the huge hits we remembered on television when were little. The girls were more athletic than we anticipated and we wouldn’t be caught dead around them on skates. The Houston Roller Derby is a great family environment and it is filled with action you can’t see anywhere else….especially since Hockey left town. Chasing Houston will definitely be coming back to check out a match in the future.
The Houston Roller Derby started in 2005 and has grown into a league of more than 120 skaters that sells around 1,400 tickets for each bout. Bouts are held on the third Saturday of each month during the season, which runs from March through September at Bayou Music Center (formerly called Verizon Wireless Theater) at 520 Texas Avenue in Houston.
The league consists of four home teams, The Bayou City Bosses, The Brawlers, The Valkyries and The Psych Ward Sirens, and two travel teams, the Houston All-Stars, and the Knockouts (B-team).
Houston Roller Derby filed as a public charity (Houston Rollergirls Inc. dba Houston Roller Derby) and received its tax-deductible 501(c)(3) non-profit status effective March 11, 2011.
Check out the after party at Lucky’s Pub after each bout is played. You can catch a ride from Lucky’s Pub to the venue on game day with the Lucky’s Pub Shuttle Bus. The Bus will drop you off and pick you up before and after the game. The ride is free, but be sure to bring cash to tip your driver.
Lucky’s Pub Heights
2520 Houston Ave
Houston, TX. 77009