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
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