Derby Whores

by Clara Nipper

(first published as "Derby Tarts" in Hit and Miss Magazine, March, 2013



            You know them, you’ve skated with them, hopefully, you’re not one-the ubiquitous Derby Whore. It’s a slimy downside of success. We’ve all worked so hard to launch derby into the stratosphere, saturating the globe with it; each of us vowing never to rest until every person on earth is either a skater, a zebra, an NSO, a volunteer or a fan. Congratulations to us! We are fierce, ambitious amazons making our own revolution. You’ve heard of the Iron Age, the Bronze Age, and the Industrial Age? This is the Derby Age.

            When we were struggling and our leagues were held together with spit, paper clips, hope and duct tape, we didn’t have to endure such odious creatures as the team hopper.

            But now that the sport is spreading like a team rumor, busting every city’s seams to gobble more territory, cheap, derby baggage are flourishing.

            You know the type-usually young, usually mouthy, always with more ego than skills and more skills than sense and more attitude than loyalty of which they have none. They are drama divas who are too precious to do the work of derby. They just want to cherry pick their experiences and they have rotten habits, such as sleeping in on Sunday mornings when everyone else is busting a nut at practice. They skip the boring skills drills and they either never volunteer or on the rare occasions they do, they are exhausted by their own eye-rolling. They’re never available for critical derby events, they never serve on any committee, or they serve reluctantly by attending one meeting and playing with their phones the entire time. They are pot-stirring, whiny punks who are never happy with how a league is run but categorically refuse to step into a leadership role or they are in a leadership role and are entirely absent. Yet somehow, miraculously, they will move heaven and earth to be ready and willing for every single bout and they righteously recite the derby whore’s mantra: “We Just Want to Skate.”

Well, my dear, you cannot be a slackass at the rest of derby and a badass at a bout. Let me do a little math for you-to have any leagues or teams for you to “just skate with,” there first have to be those of us dull, devoted duds who do all the work for you and carry your prima donna posterior. Without us slavish workhorses, there would be no league.

            My own mantra: “anything for the team,” has demanded much of me, which I have happily given and it has surprised me by all its varied applications in almost all life situations and by not yet finding a limit of my dedication.

            So after all the meetings, minutes, board postings, emails, texts, sweating for sponsorships, team errands, brainstorming, bout production, events scheduling, equipment maintenance, paid bills, social media work, recruitment, charitable giving, car washes, candy and bake sales and other fundraising, PR, creating flyers, selling raffle tickets, and general cleanup, I am taking a break and calling you out.

            You do nothing but dishonor this sport and however badly we need skaters, my standards will always be too high to allow you on the roster. I would rather lose with dignity and with a team we’ve created together than with a skating harlot who’s either never really present for the derby work or just trolling the rinks and web for bouts. If you’re in it just for the games and glory, then you miss the entire point of DIY pride. Just keep skating on down the stroll. We don’t need you. There are skaters who may not be as skilled but who are committed, loyal and devoted who deserve the honor. Skills can be learned, strategy can be taught. But either you have a heart for derby and all it demands or you’re a whore.

            And there’s only room for one kind of skater in my pack.