A recluse’s take on Rollercon

I really wish I had enjoyed Rollercon. I really wanted to enjoy Rollercon.

But I didn’t.

While the whole premise of it is incredible – skaters from all over the world travelling to one location to take part in fun games, try a banked track and be coached by some of the world’s best skaters, the reality of it for me was socially awkward interactions, dehydration and skating at the worst personal level I’d achieved since my fresh meat course. Oh and a complete stranger’s thumb in my mouth.

I blame myself for some of it. I took my new skates, complete with new plates and toe stops, which on the one hand made me look like I was a pro at just rolling also made me look like I had never practiced a day of any stops in my entire life. I realised this as I saw a guy I’d never met extremely reluctantly hand me a pivot panty, like I was a first time skater in an a-team game, pretending. The shame.

Roller derby at rollercon

Photo courtesy of Illbilly

I’d also just spent most of a year’s savings flying to Calgary to watch the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup, and spent too little time drinking coffee and exploring, and way too much time waiting for Giggity to finish leadership meetings and smelling man sweat. Roller derby and I were not on speaking terms by the end of that trip, let alone in love enough to spend another part of the holiday smelling sweat and watching MORE of it.

Oh and then there’s the whole new people thing and my first interactions with the amazingly different culture that is America. This was a shock, mostly because I realised just how truly British I am.

Quite simply, I found Rollercon intimidating and not where I wanted to be, for all the above reasons and because I also personally, really struggled with the big mix in skill level and the unpredictability to people’s playing style – it turns out I really like skating with folks I know and if you’re that type of skater then I guess Rollercon really isn’t for you.

Of course it’s not all bad. If, unlike me, you are going with a larger group of you all excited to skate – or perhaps you join a group of like-minded souls and pre-plan that you’re going to meet at Rollercon, then I guess you’d be fine. But Gigs and I travelled with another couple (Tom A Hawke and Razzo) and out of the four of us, only one of us was really into playing any games that week (I’m looking at you Tom). This meant there was a lot of oddly timed games, pad smell in our hotel room and no drive to take part in everything. In fact, after three half an hour games I pulled out of the rest, rested my body like I should have been doing with my off-season and explored Las Vegas and watched other people play YET MORE ROLLER DERBY.

I also ruined the Las Vegas part of my holiday I think, by immediately landing from Canada hiring a car with my friends and driving across Arizona to see the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. THAT WAS INCREDIBLE and absolutely NOTHING in Las Vegas was ever going to top that.

That being said, once I took the pressure off myself to make games or to try and skate with roller derby’s a-listers I enjoyed myself a little more and it actually started to feel like a holiday. Las Vegas became more enticing, even despite it being expensive.

Couple walking through las vegas hotel

—Highlights of Rollercon 2016—

  • The Black and Blue Ball and people’s interpretation of clothes
  • The glorious air con
  • Watching Brits on the banked track
  • Doing a pick up mixed black vs white mixed scrim with 8 of us playing
  • VR vs Caulksaulkers (squad goals on both fronts)
  • Watching gigs awkwardly dance in the half-time of Magic Mike vs Chippendales

—Lowpoints of Rollercon 2016—

  • Half an hour games
  • Only taking my brand new skate set-up
  • Missing Drag Kings and Drag Queens
  • Big skill level mix
  • The jetlag on the way back

WFTDA International Playoffs: My D2 Wichita Picks

If you’re not watching footage, you should be and if you’re already watching footage, then you should be watching more.

There’s never enough footage and until quite recently I could brag I’d watched 95% of the games stored on the WFTDA archive. In fact, one glance at my YouTube history and you’d quickly realise I use YouTube for nothing more than searching for obscure roller derby and the most talked about games.

Division Two is a relatively new level of roller derby for me, as like most Brits I’d previously only watched to see the European teams smashing it up.

But this year I’m committed to watching as much of the WFTDA feed as possible, especially because I paid approx £70 for the privilege. BUT also because I signed myself in for the UltraCompetitive league on Fantasy Derby, with some of the world’s favourite London-based skaters… I look practically unambitious compared to the crowd below.

fantasy roller derby game

Unlike me you might have had more raucous weekend plans (sub in “a life”), and as a result may have missed some of the Division Two play. So below I’ve listed out two games I think are a must watch, and a couple of reasons why. A warning, the final scores are included, as are the winners. So there are spoilers, but if you like watching great roller derby again and again then maybe you’ll enjoy knowing the ending…


— Nashville Rollergirls vs Tucson Roller Derby —

Okay I admit it that this was the first game of the tournament I got to watch, so I may doing an injustice to the two games that came before this. BUUUUTTTT I did hear the announcers say they were largely blow-outs, and I don’t want to recommend any one-sided games.

Nashville vs Tucson took place on the first day of D2 Wichita, and was the third game of the day and the tournament. Nashville came into the tournament as third seed and Tucson was sixth, so I don’t think you’d have been critiqued on making a judgement call on who was going to win.

However, the game unfolded quite differently to how everybody (maybe just me) imagined and the gameplay and strategy on display was for the most part closely matched.

Early on it looked like the game was Nashville’s but after a lead change, Tucson led with varying margins for most of the game. In fact, it seemed for a while that only Nasville’s Lady Fury was capable of breaking through the Tucson defence to score points, which looked like a great source of frustration for Nashville and Lady Fury. Understandable really with the rumours that Nashville would be losing nine of its charter to retirement at the end of this year and the announcer confirmed departure of Lady Fury at the end of the weekend.

By the last quarter of the bout (yeah bout, what of it?!) was Tucson’s to lose. Which, unfortunately, they did.

With Lady Fury out for Nashville from a big and high hit on the jam line, it genuinely looked like Tucson had this in the bag, but a series of jammer and blocker penalties, poor clock management and some excellent defence from the Nashville blockers saw Music City take the lead in the closing jams.

Far from a bracket upset with the third seed clinching the win this game was still a differential killer and definitely worth a watch (if only the second half).

Final Score: 152 – 149 to Nashville

Seeds entering the tournament:

Nashville Rollergirls – 3

Tucson Roller Derby – 6

Finishing position in the tournament:

Nashville Rollergirls – 4th

Tucson Roller Derby – 7th


— Houston Roller Derby vs Boulder County Bombers —

If this game was one thing, it was close. If I could give it another adjective, it’d be hitty.

The game started out quite formation heavy with many iterations of braced three walls and a dedicated offence. Expectantly, this created some long periods of play without a lead jammer. But as the game progressed each team became more desperate and hungry for the win and as a result the game became more individual, contact-heavy and demonstrative of solo skill.

Yet none of the above is the reason why I’m recommending that you watch this game. Nope.

I recommend watching this game (spoiler incoming), which was the 5th/6th position playoff because you’ll see the Boulder County Bombers, the 8th seed in Division Two Wichita, come from behind at halftime to beat the second seed, Houston Roller Derby.

THAT’S RIGHT – Boulder County Bombers usurped Houston for fifth place, and what’s more they did it all in the last fifteen minutes of the second half. If ever I thought there was a game to drink to, game 15 of the Divison Two Wichita International Playoffs was it.  The amount of lead changes would have made even the most seasoned derby drinker drunk as a skunk.

Final Score: 184 – 181 to Boulder County

Seeds entering the tournament:

Houston Roller Derby – 2

Boulder County Bombers – 8

Finishing position in the tournament:

Houston Roller Derby – 6th

Boulder County Bombers – 5th


All-in-all I think the Division Two Wichita International Playoffs were a tournament categorised by surprises and upsets. Of course there were blow-outs, but surely we can all expect that at any level of play now in roller derby? The game of jostling for position is always going to have its ebbs and flows of epic growth and mammoth come-downs.

But what was really surprising in this tournament was just how different the final tournament positions were from the start; out of all 10 teams, only two remained in the same seed.

If you have a favourite game of D2 Wichita please let me know.

WFTDA D2 Wichita Roller Derby

Bracket from WFTDA

Prufrock: A Central Coffee Shop

It feels like an age since I blogged about London’s Best Coffee shops, and that’s probably because it is. Needless to say in my absenteeism I didn’t stop visiting the coffee houses of London or go caffeine-free, I simply was lacking the time and the photographs to blog about it (my camera memory was wiped).

So after a short hiatus I’m continuing my mission to try out new coffee shops and test the best of what London has to offer (mostly as stated in this list).

Next on the list is the Farringdon based coffee shop Prufrock that is listed in Time Out as one of the best coffee shops in Central London.

About five minutes from Farringdon Station, on Leather Lane, Prufrock stands in a back street, competing against a handful of other coffee shops with somewhat unusual opening hours as they appeared to be closed mid-Saturday afternoon.

The shop, painted in white, contrasts against the overwhelming grey of the street, and the blue logo hints at the colour scheme to come.

Central London Coffee Shop

The shop is large, unnecessarily so for a quiet Saturday. But the street outside hosts a market on a Sunday, and is centrally based so one can only assume the shop is a hive of activity Monday to Friday too.

Chris and I did not struggle to find a seat, choosing one of the benches backing onto the wall that is quirkily decorated with spoons. I like this touch – although the spoons are relatively recent ranging from the early noughties, it gives me nostalgia of the old 70s spoons my Gran collected and stored in a jewellery box.

Prufrock Coffee Decorations

Call me unseasoned in coffee ordering, or perhaps still a little jetlagged but Prufrock’s seemed to lack a clear place to order – instead there were just a handful of baristas stood around one coffee machine, making or supervising the production of one drink.

They were friendly nevertheless and spoke to me over the machine for my order.

Prufrock doesn’t seem to serve lattes, which as you might be aware has been my benchmark-test-drink. Instead they serve “espressos with milk”. Aside from the literality this strikes me as borderline pretentious – but we went with it anyways and ordered two espressos with milk.

Prufrock Latte

Barista Coffee Bar

The baristas took their time, which I’m not opposed too. I’d rather a well-served drink than a rushed, over milky, burnt “espresso with milk”, but that did result in my drink being much cooler than Chris’. In fact, mine was just above room temperature, where Chris’ was deliciously warm. I don’t believe this is a mark of inconsistency but it did mean I had to drink my coffee with speed.

The milk seems to mask the smoothness of the espresso that you normally find in a latte. ~ Chris

The atmosphere in Prufrock was pretty sombre. I’ve already mentioned it was pretty quiet, a victim of its location on a Saturday afternoon. But the general chatter of those in there was minimal, with most people staring at their phones or on laptops.

I’m not opposed to this and I actually think it’s a sign of being comfortable by the punters that drink there. But it did lead to Chris and I having a quiet conversation as to not disturb the soft indie music playing throughout the shop and those people using this quiet time for productive things.

Unfortunately, the people to the side of me did not have the same consideration and instead chose to speak VERY loudly about politics and to quote, “that whatsit report”.


— So would I return to Prufrock’s? —

Probably not, but not because of the coffee.

Generally, there is no reason for me to visit Farringdon, and to do so is a reasonable commute. Prufrocks, although a great coffee shop, is not pull enough for me to visit Farringdon. However if you’re in the area I’d recommend popping by for a good coffee (but maybe ask for it a little hotter just to be sure).


— Prufrock’s Summary —

Things that count in their favour:

  • Good coffee
  • Plenty of seating
  • Decoration
  • Water on tap
  • Good music
  • Friendly staff
  • Free wifi
  • Barista lessons

Things that count against it:

  • Limited outdoor seating (London though)
  • Location

If you’ve visited Prufrock (either at their Farringdon location, or before they closed in Shoreditch) let me know! Or if you have a coffee shop recommendation please comment! Or why not stare at my photos of coffee here?