Holy shit. I am sore, tired, and overflowing with the sweet nectar of derby love. Yes, I am actually halfway through Day 3 of B&T, but you’re gonna have to forgive me cuz derby twelve hours a day leaves little time for blogging. So just forget about the dates and let’s get it on.
I started Day 2 with a blocking workshop with Coach Pauly. (See Day 1 for details about his unorthodox and amazing teaching skills.) He took us off our skates again, which always makes me groan and then is the most valuable approach on the planet. He made us focus on our hitting skills by positioning ourselves correctly in relation to the target. The target being, of course, the bitch nearest you in another color jersey. We did a lot of crotch stomping. Without skates, it becomes really obvious that the best crotch stomps come from behind when you lead with the whole body. Pauly is the master of telling you things that you should have already known without making you feel stupid. Like if you hit a bitch with your shoulder and she don’t go down, give her the ass. And also to deflect should hits with a hip and vice versa. And, holy epiphany for the new girl, again, but he taught me to give the girl trying to hit me my shoulder so she gets a penalty for back blocking. Duh. I love him.
On to Stance with Smackya Sideways. Have you heard about her? She’s like a sidewinding hurricane. She’s got this totally unflappable demeanor that makes you think she knows everything, and frankly, I’m pretty sure that she does. She immediately put music on to get us moving. To figure out our stance, she made us squat for like a hundred years while picking up only our toes to move in little circles. It really helped me understand where my weight needs to be. Think of your inside toes like steering wheels, pick em up and move em in the direction you want to go in. Then she showed us some jam skating move called Downtown (some people call it grapevining), which I totally can’t do yet, but the dancey steps helped me think about my footwork in a more fluid way. Like I don’t have to be a triceratops with wheels on it’s feet. Maybe I could be more like a gazelle. More like Smack.
Then what? Then I went back to my hotel with this crazy nineteen year old from Seattle, Stank A. Pantz (don’t get excited, it ain’t what you think), ate a pound of chicken and a bunch of candy (Krissy Krash, I hope you’re not reading this!) to get refueled. By this time the bruises on my arms from blocking with Coach Pauly were really starting to form and my legs felt like bendy straws from trying to keep up with Smack, but fuck it, I’m here and I’m not tryin to waste my time, so I geared up and got my ass back to class.
Jamming with Quadzilla was seriously intense. He made us hop from foot to foot for like an hour, and really hit home the idea of weight transfer. If you only step from foot to foot, all you do is lose power, but if you really hop then that leg that you hopped on becomes like a spring that propels you. Once we started doing it on skates, I was instantly faster and more agile. Instantly. Just thinking differently about where I’m getting my power from, muscle-wise, totally changed my approach. Plus, Quad has this great motivational spiel about rewards and consequences (video coming soon). Basically, if you’re a player (and I know that you are), you can’t be thinking about failure or getting hit or any of that shit. Sure, those other bitches want to knock you down. They probably will, too. But focusing on the consequences just makes you scared. If you’re jamming, you gotta be thinking about points, and that’s it. Points and the roar of the crowd screaming your name. Roar fucking roar.
I took a class with Gingersnap on using levels in blocking. I have already raved about the intense greatness of this woman, so I’ll try to tone it down. Using levels is about blocking when you don’t have much space. In actuality, you never have as much space as you want to give the kind of hits that you want to. So, what do you do? You gotta make it. You gotta make that space by getting so low you can touch your laces and let that be your velocity. Snap calls it harnessing mother nature. She’s got this great line about how derby is a sexy sport, and you gotta be using all the power from your, uh, mother nature, bringing it up and throwing at people.
Oh, what?!?! I forgot to say that I made the roster for the public bout! Quadzilla is my coach, and this crazy skater in the green helmet is my teammate. Her name is On Da Sligh and she’s like a little fucking badass jackrabbit on wheels. She jukes and fakes and speeds like a mofo and I think I worship her. And she’s on my team. What? Practice was a little chaotic at first since we don’t know each other, but we quickly figured out who does what. I hold the line. That’s what I do. Since I’m on a team of more experienced players, I was scared that I wouldn’t have a place, but I do. I’m pretty okay at it, and the other blockers can be off doing important things while I sit my ass on that line.
Oh, and I got hit in the face. Wait, guess what number hit me? It was a pretty crucial moment, because the refs totally didn’t notice or call it or ANYTHING, so after the jam I ran to the center and screamed, “Hey refs, whose fucking number is on my face?” and they were all, “oh shit” about it and then they had a little ref meeting about paying attention to illegal activity. And then everyone wanted to take my picture because it really isn’t that often you have someone else’s number so perfectly reproduced on YOUR FACE. Thanks #10. I got your fucking number.