What do you get when you mix up the top UK derby teams, tattoos, camper vans and ice-sculpting? A typical rollergirl outing!
I’ve been hearing about Tattoo Freeze for a while. It’s a convention that brings together aspects of a lifestyle that includes tattoos, leather and motorbikes. When I hear about events like this, they get sorted into ‘not for Daphne’ category and I switch off, so it took me a long time to realise that roller derby was actually involved.
At 8AM on Sunday, I shuffled into the car with Thunderkat, Raging Bulmer and Just Awesome, and off to Telford we went! I hadn’t exactly been looking forward to the show, unable to imagine it would appeal to me or that I would fit in any way, shape or form. I thought about claiming I was covered in tattoos under my clothes and made of ice, but I realised the two were not complementary.
The tournament was held in a huge hall with ice sculpting at one end, a stage where live bands played, a BMX ramp and then the track and stands set up for the roller derby. It was very loud and busy, plenty of people were wearing onsies and I was a bit upset that I hadn’t realised onsies are now acceptable outerwear, since I have quite a fetching cat one myself that the world needs to see.
There were eight games in total, each lasting only 30 minutes, with a maximum of two time outs and a stricter penalty system: only four minutes in the box was grounds for ejection, rather than the typical seven. So, er, maybe that explains why five Blitz Dames skaters managed to foul out… We’re not sloppy, we’re spirited!
Shortly after we arrived, I found out what I had been starting to suspect, which was that I hadn’t made the team and wouldn’t be skating in the tournament. I was understandably glum, but I’m fairly realistic about my own abilities and I wouldn’t have wanted to let down the team. More on that in a later post.
So, situating myself on merch, I discovered that by standing on the chair and ignoring people trying to buy t-shirts, I got a pretty good view of the games. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed watching teams I barely knew. I’m fond of the Dollies and of course there are the World Cup favourites, but most of the teams were unfamiliar. I walked past Jack Attack twice and resisted the urge to touch her and try and absorb some of her derby prowess. Self control, thy name is Daphne.
While watching the derby I jumped on the chair – quite dangerously – and screamed my head off. So much so that I had a horribly sore throat by the second bout and had to flail to convey my excitement, lest I lose my voice.
Watching the Blitz Dames game was awful. I was far too emotionally involved and probably a fried Mars bar away from a heart attack. I was alternatively proud of my teammates, horrified by the penalties and then heart broken as the point gap started to grow.
Aside from my emotional meltdown, watching the derby was fun. I came away with a slightly inappropriate derby crush on Cherry Fury whose jam reffing I could watch all day. I’m so close to sending her an embarrassing confession of love on FB but I will resist.
The day had a few surprises for me which completely made up for not being able to skate. I met up with the photographer, China Blade, who called me a ‘top banana’. Anonymous Russel became significantly less anonymous - I might start referring to him as just ‘Russel’ - and I even was introduced to muslim lady interested in roller derby! That’s right, there were two girls wearing headscarves at that tattoo convention. No one was more surprised than me. I thought I was looking in a mirror.
I apparently also got a shoutout on the PA by Twisted Miister but I was oblivious as usual. Thanks for that, dude. Next time, say the url, okay?
All in all, weirdly incredible day! I could never have imagined I would end up in a place like that, far less that I would enjoy it!
See you all there next year!