Bout Braids

by Clara Nipper


            If you’re anything like me, you have hair and therein lies the problem. What to do with all those glorious tresses on bout day? Sure, you can jerk it into a boring pony or scrape it into a standard braid, but it’s not just another practice, it’s Bout Day, sacred to all derby girls.

            You have your boutfit, your lucky charms, maybe your glitter and face paint, your Sunday go to meetin’ socks, your special mint-flavored mouth guard, why not do something nicer with all that hair?

            So unless you’re going to shave your pate bald (which is a fabulous and functional look. I’ve gone to bone many times and I would really recommend it. Plus, you can donate your hair to a good cause and get this-it grows back!), then I, Cat, am here to help or hurt, depending on how frustrated you get attempting these styles.

            My two favorites are the rope braid and the herringbone braid. What it great about these styles is that once mastered, they’re easy yet sophisticated; they look beautiful and they’re fancier than a regular braid which will give you an edge over your competition with their sloppy frizz or plain, sad ponys.

            To do a rope braid, first gather your hair into a pony and secure with an elastic. Make sure all your bout ponytails are as low as possible so your helmet will still fit. Then divide the pony into three equal parts. Take the right section, twist the hair in that section to the right and then move the twisted section over and across the other two so now it is on the left. Next, take section two, formerly the middle and now on the right, twist it and cross it over. Then repeat with the third section and so on until you’ve gone as far as you care to and secure the bottom of your rope with another elastic.

            To do a herringbone braid, secure your hair with an elastic in a low pony and divide into two equal sections. From the left of the left section, separate a tiny amount of hair and cross it over to the inside edge of the right section. Then take the same size small section from the right edge of the right half and cross it over to the inside left. This can be done with larger, thicker sections of hair, but the smaller the pieces are that you use, the more interested and complex-looking the herringbone effect is.

            So then take an outside left section, cross over to the inside right and take an outside right section and cross over to the inside left. Keep repeating until you run out of hair or until you reach the desired length you like. Secure with elastic.

            Both of these styles can be done (and I have been in a lot of bouts, so I’ve done them all) in pigtails as well, which might be easier if you prefer braiding in front of a mirror, or if your arms get too tired and this whole ordeal makes you fussy and crabby as a result.

            Also, have fun with your elastics! You can get them with skulls or dice or cherries or even in your team’s colors.

            If you prefer to disguise your elastics, you can use this technique for the top of your style, or even the bottom if you allow enough hair to remain free to accomplish it.

            Put your hair in a low pony. At the base of the pony, where the elastic is (and before you begin braiding), separate one small strand, roughly the thickness of your hair band and then wind it tightly over the elastic, covering it with your own hair. When you have wrapped it and you’re at the end of the hair, use a bobby pin to attach the hair to the base of your pony or to the elastic or to your head, anywhere it can remain secure but concealed. Then begin your braid (or leave it loose). If you desire to do the same at the end of your braid or braids, allow plenty of free hair at the end and do the same process.

            One last variation on a plain ponytail to dress it up: slide the elastic down the pony one to three inches and divide the hair above the elastic in two parts. Flip the entire pony up towards the crown of your head then draw the pony down through the division and pull and straighten. The pony can be rolled through as many times as you wish. Once you are satisfied, push the elastic back up to tighten the style and conceal the hair band.

            And voila-you are ready for a victory in femalition derby and you’re gonna glamorize and terrorize. Now go skate!