Alyssa Kwasny aka Georgia W Tush busts the top derby myths
Photo by Lysanne Tremblay
As an avid roller derby fan, I find myself explaining the rules to curiosity seekers and newbs on a fairly routine basis. Almost always, without fail, the first question is, “So, do they hit each other and stuff?” It’s perplexing, since this question usually comes from people not old enough to remember the second wave of roller derby as WWE-style sports entertainment in the 1960s and ‘70s, which was markedly more violent than the new roller derby of the aughts.
Alyssa Kwasny, aka Georgia W. Tush, is the founder of the Montreal Roller Derby League and owner of Neon Skates, and she’s surely heard this question more than anyone in the city in the past six years. Along with it, she’s counting down and dispelling the Top 5 roller derby myths for Cult MTL. Get with the times, newbs.
5. Y’all throw elbows at each other and punch people in the face? Although I have thought about punching many people in the face — on and off the track — we are not allowed to do that. There are rules. In fact, some would argue too many rules. We can’t do things like punch faces, trip people, push from behind, scratch, poke in the eye and, my favourite, pull the hair. What can we do? I can hipcheck that gal, scoop her up and send her flying into the beeramid. That’s what I can do! Legally, of course.
4. Players are nothin’ but fishnet-wearing rockabillies. The re-emergence of roller derby [in the early 2000s] was brought on by a bunch of rad rock ’n’ roll chicks from Austin, TX. Yes, there were a lot of fishnets.
When Montreal roller derby started [in 2006], there were fishnets, and some people still wear them. Now, I want you to have the mental image of fishnets and skin scrapping on a concrete floor, then the image of peeling your fishnets out of the fresh and oozing wound. Gross. Most of us wear short shorts or athletic tights, often shiny or neon.
As for the rockabilly part, sure, there are rockabilly girls — not to mention jocks, punk rockers, hippies, artsy folk, normies, straight edgers, moms, rock ’n’ rollers, artists, weirdos…blah blah blah.
3. Roller derby girls are slutty. No, we will not make out with you at our after-party. Unless you’re cute, of course. I’d also like to take this opportunity to call out that creepy douchebag that kept touching our butts at one of our parties a few years ago, and kindly tell him to please go fuck himself.
2. Is it like the movie Whip It ? No. Well, sorta. The majority of [roller derby leagues] don’t skate on a banked track — we skate on a flat surface. But similar to Whip It, we don’t get paid, we run the league ourselves and are a bunch of super-cool gals that put our heart and soul into what we do. Did I run away to Austin, TX as an underage teen to join the roller derby? No, but I kind of wish I did. I also wish there were more food fights and naked swimming scenes in my life.
1. Aren’t you a bunch of lesbians? Not at first. Hah!
But seriously, folks, not all roller derby girls are gay. To be honest, Montreal Roller Derby is a pretty gay league, but all sexual orientations are represented. I’ve met plenty of gay, straight or whatever derby players all over the world. One thing for sure, though, is we try to be LGBT-friendly and do not discriminate. I’m positive that we are like most female sports teams — a mixture of gay and straight women working together for the purpose of ultimate awesomeness.
See the truth in action on Saturday, July 21 in the second-to-last game of the season. Local teams la Racaille and les Contrabanditas go head to head to secure a spot in the Montreal championship at 6 p.m., and at 8 p.m., Montreal’s elite travel team New Skids on the Block battle New Hampshire’s Skate Free or Die. It’s your last chance to see the Skids this year on their home turf, the St-Louis Arena (5633 St-Dominique). Tickets cost $10 in advance, $15 at the door.