Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rollercon 2012! I'm jealous you're going and I'm not!

So you're headed to Rollercon this year!  Congrats!  It's a great experience and it's one I think that every skater should have in his or her skating career.  If you take advantage of the classes and seminars while you are there, then this will be an extremely informative trip for you.

I went to my first Rollercon last year, and I felt like it was a baptism of fire for derby travel for me.  For the first time since I had joined derby,  I had to deal with bringing my gear on a plane, which was awkward and a little anxiety laden for me.  (See my blog entry about derby travel).  I'm a control freak, so packing was an ordeal for me.  I probably packed too many clothes, and if and when I go back to a future Rollercon, I will pack fewer articles of clothing and more food.

Things you should pack:

1.  Your skates and gear.  This should go with you on the plane.  Never check your gear and skates!  Find a great gear bag where you can put everything you need to skate, plus your black and white shirts with your numbers on them.  Also, pack your necessities for one day, like underwear, socks and your tooth brush.  I know you don't want to be disgusting for the five days at Rollercon, but you're mostly going to need black and white shirts with your name and number on them to participate in the classes.

2.  Food.  Pack food for breakfast if possible.  Pack dry snacks like protein or breakfast bars, nuts, dried fruits, whatever you might need for snacks.  The most expensive part of Rollercon for me was buying food, and breakfast is not provided by the Riviera.  If you can get a car while you're there, find a grocery store off of the strip and stock up on food.

3.  Swimsuit.  The pool, or as I'd like to call it, "Derby Soup" is great, especially at night.  Personally, I found the pool too hot during the day, and I was too busy going to classes to hang out and burn in the Vegas sun.
The pool was a great way to relax at the end of the day.

4. Black and Blue "formal" wear.  The Black and Blue Ball is held outside by the pool.  People really do it up, and I saw everything from sailor outfits, to full body suits of zebra stripes.  I rocked a blue and black tiger striped mini skirt and a black shirt for approximately 20 minutes before I went back upstairs and changed into my swim suit and stayed in the pool for the rest of the event.
It was so hot I ditched the outfit for swimwear.
The more eye catching your outfit is, the better.
Little black dresses are boring; be more creative, like this lady here.

5.  Space.  Hunh?  Space?  Yes, you need to have room in your suitcase for items you buy at Rollercon.  Don't kid yourself, you will buy stuff.  There are so many awesome vendors there that you really will want to stock up.  Definitely drop by the Sin City Skates booth!

6.  Pen and paper.  Take notes after each class to help keep the lessons from turning into a jumbled mess in your brain.

What to expect:

1.  Heat.  It's hot in Vegas, even at night.  You will need to drink lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of water.  Did I say lots enough?  Drink more.  The hotels are dry because they have mega air conditioners, and duh, it's the desert!  Even when you walk out of the hotel at night you will feel the dryness in the air.  Bring water wherever you go, and if you decide to drink alcohol, know that you will have to drink even MORE water.

2.  Lines.  I was shocked by the lines to check in at the Riviera.  Maybe everyone arrived at the exact same time, or the Riviera is just slow about checking people in, but it took us an hour to check in.  I was pretty grumpy by the time I got to the desk, but the room was really nice, and I never heard the people next door to us.

You will also have to wait in lines to get access to certain classes.  I don't know how they will be handling that this year, but last year you had to get a ticket and wait in line for each class.  The more popular classes have lines that start waaaaaaay before the classes do, so plan accordingly.  Also, make sure you have your Rollercon pass and driver's license with you at all times!  You will not get into the area without them.  Also, be prepared that once your class is over, you will be asked to take off your skates.  The hotel is very adamant about NO SKATING inside.
Waiting in line for a class.

3.  You're not going to make every class you want.  Sometimes you have to juggle the schedule, or sometimes you're just tired.  Being at Rollercon is a WONDERFUL experience, but it is overwhelming at times, so it helps if you have a buddy who can cover some of the classes you couldn't make.  Beth Row was my travel buddy, and she and I divided up the classes by subject matter; she took the jammer classes and I focused on the blocker classes.  When we got back home, we shared our notes.

This was on the the outside of the and my buddy.

4.  There is always something going on. Rollercon is a full on experience, with classes, seminars, games and social events; add to it the fact that Vegas never stops.  You can go down into the casino at 7:30 in the morning and see people gambling; sometimes you need to take a break from derby and Vegas.  Just remember that you're there to learn and experience new things.  I did see a lot of people basically treat Rollercon like a full on vacation, which seemed like a waste of time and money to me.  Don't be one of those attendees who decides to do Vegas instead of Rollercon.  It's got to be easier to go to Vegas WITHOUT your skates.  Remember why you're there.  Go and enjoy Vegas, but concentrate on your skating interests.
Go see the Bellagio fountain show at night.  It's free and happens every 15 minutes.

And the showgirls will walk the Strip for pictures!
5.  Men in tights.  Rollercon is dangle friendly, and they will be playing in most of the challenge bouts, so if that isn't your cup of tea, be ready to bow out of your bout.  Also, be prepared for men sporting the Iron Doll lift and separate shorts.

I'm jealous that I can't go this year, but I'm happy for you for taking this step to further your derby education!  Hopefully I'll be attending again next year!

Some links to check out, if you haven't already.

Fun bout to watch in a fun space.  Vagine Regime Sky Box

Scavenger Hunt details.  More info here

Reidell Luau info here.  Also, their jam skate crew will be teaching classes at Rollercon this year.  Go and learn something new and expand your brain.

Vegan friendly restaurants are here.


  1. One thing I learned *after* my first trip... If you want to be in any of the bouts you have to sign up 6-8 months in advance!

    One good thing this year is that they will have open scrimmages every other hour (with open skate in between) all day! (last year it was only 9-midnight) so you have MUCH more opportunity to learn and play with new people.

    Hopefully they learned their lesson from last year and don't put sport court directly on top of the carpet in the classes and smaller tracks. I found it extremely hard to learn in the classes with the tiles sinking under my skates. I had to compensate for the floor so much it made it difficult to learn! Here's hoping they put plywood under ALL the tracks!

  2. I am not going this year, but I'm hoping next year! I am curious though why I shouldn't check my skates? I will travel with my equipment next week and I was planning on checking them in. It is a short flight so I believe loosing them won't be too risky, but are there other reasons?

    1. They can get lost and damaged. You can always buy underwear when you get there. Don't take chances with your gear.