Ever since the resurgence of interest in roller derby, I’ve been trying to contextualize the phenomenon. Who participates? Who attends the events? What cultural or sociological groups are driving its popularity?
I’ve never been to a, what, a game? I should, of course, but I’m not sure how many matches I’ll be able to catch on Malta.
I’m particularly interested in the whole showmanship (or showwomanship, as it were) angle. Is it a community-driven version of WWF or American Gladiators? I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I see a connection in this kind of feminine theatricality between the roller derby and burlesque phenomenona.
They seem to be opposite sides of the same coin of new forms of public displays. Put another way, burlesque enables the amateur to play with her sensuality in socially risky or formerly taboo ways, while roller derby enables her to play with her physicality and aggression.
I just watched a five-minute documentary on the sport from Cool Hunting. It didn’t answer many of my questions, but it did give a better sense of the participants. They feel a bit like the early adopters of Ultimate Frisbee, long before it went mainstream. The documentary seems to draw a connection between the punk aesthetic and attitude and roller derby. That may be coincidental, or strictly regional, but I thought it worth mentioning.