Rollercon Wrap-Up

by Clara Nipper

First published in USARS Magazine, 2012



            It all started with a vow I made to myself never to go to Vegas. I hate lavish shows, gambling, shopping, garish ostentation and conspicuous consumption, so Vegas and me = fancy oil and plain water.

            However, in the short time I’ve been a derby girl, I’ve been deeply shocked to learn that like Ron Burgundy in The Anchorman, who will read absolutely anything off a cue card, derby can make me do anything. An ee thing guh.

            So as a sober, book smart, bisexual vegetarian who would rather garden, cook or read for recreation, there is much in the world abhorrent to me but for which I would grin and git er did for derby. So when I heard the siren song of Rollercon, I astonished everyone by asking, “Yes, I’ll jump, how high?”

            So I packed my practice uniform of spandex bike shorts and scrimmage tee and filled my suitcase with cute little outfits I might need like strappy sandals, summer dresses, white capris, frilly blouses and sparkly jewelry. I never check baggage so I made arrangements to Federal Express my skates, pads and helmet. $200.00 for shipping and a long flight later, I was wondering lost with my precious Fed Ex box in a hotel so enormous that its lobby stretched as far as I could squint. I expected to pass under a sign any minute that read, ‘Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.’

            Because, with apologies to Dante, I have always believed that Vegas, like Branson and other ersatz environments catering only to the crass and tacky, is a level of hell and yet an apt expression of American character. Pioneers and Mafia may have found meaning and exultant triumph in Manifest Destiny, but all those debatably lofty ideals seem lost in the lurid blue swimming pools, KISS on the muzak, paycheck loan stands and tawdry souvenirs made in China.

            However, I checked into my room and proceeded to register for Rollercon, which went so smoothly, the organization and volunteer training was obviously fierce and comprehensive, so I felt that I was in good derby hands already. I had run my highlighter dry choosing classes I wanted to take, so I put on my shorts and top and headed to my first class.

            I had been exhorted by friends to leave the hotel at least once and people watch, but as a confirmed misanthrope, I didn’t even pencil that in. Was it for the benefit of derby? Did it help my team? Then no. But derby girl watching was endlessly fascinating; I had no idea there were so many of us! And it was wall to wall ripe, round asses. I definitely had glute envy and pledged to do more lunges. Seeing all of us rollergirls together, fearsome, athletic, unorthodox, brilliant and beautiful and I had never been prouder or more thrilled than that weekend to call every one of them family.

            Skating on Skate Court was odd since I’m spoiled to a sweet maple floor, but I adjusted. And the time just flew by! The training was excellent and the instructors I had were well-prepared and overly qualified and there was a good mix of skating ability in each class. I made skatefriends for two hours at a time all day, every day. The volume of information from the teachers was so immense that many skaters took notes at every water break, which I should’ve done. All I can remember is the class in which we were instructed to hit each other in the buttocks with our cooches. That is one ferocious hit I didn’t need any practice to master.

            The time not spent in class, I shopped all the glorious derby merchandise. When you come to Rollercon, bring quadruple the amount of money you think you might spend because you will be dazzled by all the great vendors that have that perfect thing just for you.

            I never left the hotel, just rode the elevator from my room to classes and gladly paid $3.00 plus tax for a cold can of Dew when I needed it. Everything was in one location, which was ideal. I never gambled, but I would’ve had better luck at the slots than getting into one of Quadzilla’s many classes; the lines for which formed well in advance of admission tickets being issued. The only thing I would change if given the chance is to be able to pre-register for classes so the schedule isn’t so hectic, chaotic and unpredictable. However, it is well-known that I’m a confirmed Type-A tightass, so I don’t do well with spontaneity. And I’m sure that making pre-registry would be an Herculean task and a monster migraine of additional work and so I understand why it isn’t done.

            Four days later, I had not brushed my hair, flossed or changed out of my practice uniform. I was using leopard print duct tape to attach my pads to the a/c unit in the hotel room to dry them overnight. And running for the elevator once, I could’ve sworn I saw Wayne Newton.

            A big booty block of appreciation to Scar Leigh Ermey, Atomatrix, Tannibal Lector, Catholic Cruel Girl, Vicki Handyside, Smarty Pants, Iron Maiven and of course, the Queen Goddesses: Ivanna S. Pankin and Trish the Dish, both of whom I had the honor of meeting at the Black and Blue.

            Although I’m a Vegas virgin, the Riviera Hotel was an excellent choice because not only did they have more than enough room for all of us, a pool, restaurants, room service, gym, tattoo shop, wedding chapel and other standard amenities, but also express check in and out, multiple mini-grocery stores for all those lip balm, tampon, Dew and Snickers needs and a business office where I printed my boarding pass and to which I returned my beloved package to be shipped home. I followed, exhausted, achy and derbyhappy.

            See you there in 2012!