I asked my teammate, Neuralize Her, to write about her impressions and adventures at Rollercon this year. I know it seems premature to be planning your itineraries for next year, but Rollercon is one of those things you need to start planning to save up for NOW. Neuro is an old pro at Rollercon, since this was her third year. And now, in her own words.......
I traveled out last Wednesday with my boyfriend for my third year at RollerCon held in Las Vegas, NV. I’m pretty sure all of you know what it is, but if not I describe it as the largest gathering of roller derby people worldwide; this year boasted 5000+ attendees. It was held at the Riviera, same place as for the last 2 years, and it really is the perfect venue as every single event occurs under the same roof. I believe if you are a roller derby skater/ref. fanatic, etc or involved in derby in any way, shape, or form this is an event you need to attend at least once in your lifetime as there is an experience for every person involved with the sport.
I will breakdown a few topics so I can try to give a good overview. First off, what really seems to be the MOST limiting factor as to why people can’t or don’t attend RollerCon is cost. COST SAVING TIPS: The earlier you plan, the cheaper and more affordable it is. Tickets normally go on sale Thanksgiving weekend every year; if you’re planning on going next year, 23-27 July 2014, buy them at this time. MVP passes sell out FAST!!! You will be able to purchase tickets for under $100 but from here on out the price will increase as it gets closer.
What is the MVP pass? Well, if you want to take any on skates training classes, this is the pass you need. If you are not interested in taking classes, you can wait another month or so until skater passes go on sale; this is the pass to get if you are only interested in skating in bouts, scrimmages, and challenges and don’t want to wait in line for any classes. There are also spectator passes if you don’t want to skate. Then buy your plane ticket ASAP – as you are likely aware, these go up the closer RollerCon gets. I found this was the most expensive part of the trip for me. For your lodging, the Riviera offers a great discount for RollerCon attendees but you need to book ASAP as they fill quickly- sharing rooms greatly reduces the cost. And lastly, there are some grocery stores within walking distance so you can buy food for your room as the food in the hotel can get costly.
Since many of your questions can be answered on their website, rollercon.net I would like to talk about my experience this year and what keeps me coming back year after year. On-skates Classes. I am admittedly not a big fan of the classes because you normally have to wait in line for an hour or so and ‘hope’ you get a spot in that particular class, and I had a skater pass this year so I did not attend any, but from those that did they said the actual content and coaches skill levels were excellent. The lines definitely looked shorter this year and I can tell they have been working hard on improving wait times and amount of classes offered. Advice is that classes during non-peak hours such as first thing in the morning or last thing at night when the parties are going on as well as when any of the big name bouts are scheduled tend to be less crowded. A few of the coaches included Hockey Honey, Smarty Pants, Suzy Hotrod, Quadzilla, Stefanie Mainey, Demanda Riot, Juke Boxx, and so many more …pretty much every big name skater you can think of, they were there coaching.
Open skate/Open scrimmage
If you have a skater or MVP pass, you can participate. These are held every other hours (i.e 10am open skate 11 am open scrimmage, etccc.) ALL day long…literally you can skate from 9am until midnite every day!!! So YES you can skate A LOT all the time!! I only attended one open scrimmage. Because RollerCon is (thankfully) run by amazing volunteers, there is a shortage of refs in this room since they are needed more for the full bouts and challenges on the competition tracks. These can be fun, but fair warning ALL skill levels are welcome and I’ve found there is a much higher chance of getting injured in the open scrimmages so please be fair-warned.
This is the reason I come to RollerCon – to skate skate and skate more!! If you want in on these challenge bouts, as soon as you decide you are going and have bought your ticket you need to get on the forum! The link for the forum is on the website. A lot of first time skater s don’t realize this until most of them are already full. These are 30-min bouts and have all kinds of different themes! Come prepared with every shirt every color of the rainbow and if there are jump-in spots available day of, be prepared to use another skater’s number that may have not shown up. Also please appropriately assess your skill level; RollerCon has gotten a lot better at assigning skill levels and appropriate challenge bouts for each level from first-time bouter to Team USA vets. In other words, if you put yourself down as an advanced skater, please be prepared to share a team with the likes of Suzy Hotrod and Demanda Riot! You don’t necessarily need to be as awesome a skater as them, but you do need to be able to keep up with the pack and catch on quickly to all the strategies taking place. I had the opportunity to skate in 14 challenge bouts while at RC and with some very amazing and talented skaters – for me, this is really how I learn to skate better. I enjoy skating with and working with other skaters, and if it is a superstar skater I try to get on their line and skate close to them so I can pay close attn to what they do in each situation.
These are scheduled at lunch and dinner normally and are for advanced skaters only. They include iterations of WFTDA-sanctioned bouts (this year they had Rocky Mtn, Denver, Arch Rival, Tampa, and Sin City) and high-level pickup teams such as Team Antik, Team SeXY, Chupacabras Peligroso and Team Vagine Regime to name a few. The most anticipated bout each year seems to be the Team Vagine v Team Caulksuckers bout as the costumes and super-close games from year to year really make it a highlight of RollerCon. This year Team Vagine won by I think 5 pts in an overtime jam, and last year Caulksuckers won by I believe it was only 1 pt! These 2 teams included the likes of Scald Eagle, Hockey Honey, Ivanna S Pankin, 4Closer, Death by Chocolate, to name a few. You may have the opportunity to skate on one or a few of these if you are a high-level skater, but normally these are already ‘rostered’ pickup teams that at times play in other bouts during the year. I had the fantastically fun opportunity to play in the full-length USARS showcase bout for the first time ever at RollerCon this year and I gotta say USARS is HELLA fun!! I do like skating fast and faster however so it may not be for everyone and my one critique is there were a lot of timeouts as I’m not to sure all of the refs were well-read on these rules yet. But I do recommend you try this ruleset if you can…I really enjoyed that it involved a lot of endurance and NO clockwise skating whatsoever, which is what I generally think leads to a lot of injuries in WFTDA.
There are themed parties every night, from the Riedell costume party where the best costume wins a shitload of Riedell stuff to the pants off dance off and then the infamous Black n blue ball. There are also derby weddings, a scavenger hunt, and a 24/7 pool party….I went to the Riedell party for a bit this year and then fell asleep getting ready for the black n blue ball sooooo you can tell how much of a ‘party’ animal I am. But it’s all about what you are looking to get out of or do at RollerCon. Since I wanted to skate and skate so much, all the social events kind of went by the wayside for me (as they kinda do every year) but again it totally depends on what you want to do while you are there.
So I did open this up with how much you can make RollerCon cost effective right? Well you can……but, you also should NOT look at any of the vendors there then! If you’re
like me and you see derby gear, shirts, paraphernalia you just have to have well YOU HAVE TO HAVE IT!!! And you will see that there- they have between 5 and 6 conference rooms full of vendors not to mention the 4 rows that surround the main competition track. Really anything you can think of is there….Riedell, Atom Wheels, Derby Famous, Wicked, Derbalife, Five on Five magazine, derbyskinz, Crazy skates, Sin City skates….and on and on…plus they had a wonderful massage therapist and athletic tape lady this year that saved my day! So…yes bring a little extra money if you can. And usually they are all running deals at RollerCon..if you can wait until Sunday (last day of RC), a lot of the stuff goes on sale too.
Seminars/Off skates training
These are kinda a great way to get a little distance from the ‘fun’ chaos that is RC. Seminars are normally held in smaller groups related to any sort of topic you can think of to officials training, learning how to run a great bench, recruiting skaters and volunteers…I happened to attend a seminar on sports psychology on how to ‘up’ my mental game with Catholic Cruel Girl from Rocky Mtn and it gave me some good advice and stuff to think about before I prepare to skate. I really enjoyed the time ‘away’ from the fun chaos to focus on some other derby stuff in a quieter setting and in a small group. The off skates training is also good for something different – there was some great yoga everyday to stretch out those sore, tired muscles as well as plyo classes and speedwork and agility footwork classes at the top of the Riviera. I did not attend any this year as I was skating to much and wanted to really focus my time on that. Last year, however, I did do the yoga and it felt great before putting on my skates that day. Most of the coaches also were the same that taught the on-skates classes.
There is something for every level of skater here, so there is no reason NOT to go. If you are a brand new skater, you will learn a lot and likely improve more than you think in just a couple of days. Vets, you will get a break from a lot of the pressure on the travel team and be able to play in a fun, action-packed atmosphere with your friends, old and new. The worst thing is leaving – it normally takes me about a week to get back into the rhythm of ‘normal’ life from the routine at Rollercon where I am skating itll nearly midnight most days and waking up around 9am to do it all over again! Of course, I also did not party hard so I’m sure there are many who had a ‘different’ schedule then myself. All in all, YES you should go, at least once in your derby career – there really is no other roller derby experience like it anywhere else. The best part for me was all of the amazing people I met and the opportunity to skate next to and with some of my derby heroes. Huzzah RollerCon!!! See ya all next year!!!