Mannie Fresh Meat

Mar 022011


So, I’m at this bar.  Word quickly spreads around the pool table that…wait for it…Derby girls are in the building.  This may sound like a joke to most of you reading, but for me, well, suddenly the air grew stiff.  I mean, everyone knows Derby girls rule so hard and everyone wants to know them.  ”Why?” you may find yourself asking.  To the outside world, Derby girls are kind of like these mysterious creatures–running into one is rare and that makes them even more exciting.  But it’s not the fact that Derby girls can kick everyone’s ass that makes them intriguing-it’s their bold delivery of life-how they’ve got the balls to do what they do and they do it loudly.

So, having seen Whip It about six or seven times, and having hosted my childhood birthday parties at the local skating rink, I decided that, were I to drunkenly encounter one of these Derby girls, I would be totally educated and unafraid because, luckily, I wore my ripped tights that night.

Somehow, the ladies and I had a friend connection and I quickly donned my toughest face.  Under the influence of the drunken atmosphere, quite a few games of pool, and an early morning trip to Louie’s (a local greasy spoon), we had become total BFFs.  Five pounds of cheese fries later and still sporting a good buzz, I was absolutely in love with these ladies. Little did I know that a few days later, after their firm demand that we must attend, my friends and I would see our very first bout, ever.

Anyone involved in Derby can remember seeing their first bout, scrimmage, or the first time they saw a flyer for one.  No one needed to convince me, though they tried anyway, to be a part of something so liberating.  Like most, my eyes tuned in on the action–aka, the jammers.  I could imagine it then–me, a jammer, skating so hard the wind would practically spill against my face.  That feeling of attack, of letting go any instinct but to throw my body forward.  I wondered how satisfying it would feel to weave in and out of the blockers, to score so many points that the crowed roared, panting my name.  All I knew in that moment was the rush.  I mean the energy was just feeding off of these girls and it was almost torture to not be a part of it.

It was easy enough to forget the excitement a week or so later, but fortunately trAC was on my shit.  If it weren’t for this girl, I would never have made it to tryouts.  Now, here as fresh meat, I’m getting my ass infinitely kicked.  But it’s the first time since having stopped competitively dancing that I have something to work at and someone to challenge me to work hard.

I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t had my doubts.  At times, I’ve totally panicked the day of practice.  Though the idea of challenging myself and wanting to improve at Derby is there, putting that thought into action is actually terrifying. I never know what will be in store for me or my ass, and I’m constantly looking like a jerk when I can’t grasp a 180-stop, or  feeling like my life might literally end if I have to squat for one more second, or how if the word “suicides” comes up in practice I might actually commit one.

The best part of Derby, however, is the fact that you aren’t allowed to whine or be lazy, and if you are, someone will be quick to call you on it.  All of that aside, when practice is over, all my mind does is pace about the million little things I learned and the thousands more to come.  Being new, the information is endless, which can be taken in two ways–as chaos or opportunity–and I’m going with the latter.  Every practice I’m surrounded by a great group of ladies laying their hearts on the track and if that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is. The best way to describe observing Derby dedication is consumptive.  Derby is almost like a black hole that we all want to dive in.  Rowdy and passionate, it makes you feel alive.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m nowhere near ready to even skate next to the veterans, but the Derby in me is growing quickly like an animal and before I know it, I will be absorbed—consumed.