Saturday night I went up to Hunter College with some friends to see the Gotham Girls Roller Derby: Bronx Gridlock vs. Manhattan Mayhem.
Gridlock’s in yellow; Mayhem in…peach if you’re from Georgia, I guess, and salmon if you’re from New York, Maine, or Alaska. Everyone in between can take their pick.
I didn’t really know what to expect. (Unlike the rest of the population, I haven’t even seen Whip It.) Here’s a quick rundown based on my amateur understanding: the game is played on a flat track. Each team fields five players at a time – one jammer and four blockers. A “jam” lasts up to two minutes; blockers start ahead of the jammers, both space- and time-wise. Jammers score a point each time they pass a player on the opposing team, after the first lap. Whichever jammer passes the rest of the pack first is the Lead Jammer, and she has the option of ending the jam before the two-minute limit by gesturing with her hands on her hips.
My explanation may sound boring or confusing, but I assure you that roller derby is neither of those things. It is AWESOME. One of the friends I was there with is a big fan and has been to a lot of these. She was cheering for Gridlock, so I did too. Despite having the best record in the league, they were down 39-81 at the half (there are two 30-minute halves). Then they made an ABSURD comeback in the second half to win 116-105.
This was mostly thanks to one of the Gridlock jammers, Bonnie Thunders. (Oh yeah – all the girls make up names. Bonnie Thunders, Luna Impact, Dainty Inferno, etc.) She scored 88 points – just a shade over 75% of Gridlock’s total. She was amazing to watch.
And a trophy. Apologies for the blurry pictures, there’s only so much you can do with a point-and-shoot in a gym. The real photographers with their fancy cameras were down on the floor, trying not to get run over.