Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Where Everybody Doesn't Know Your Name & May Not be Glad You Came

This Saturday is our (Charm City Roller Girl’s) season opener – Season 3, and we’ve landed a bigger and better venue than ever before: DuBurn’s Arena, home of the Baltimore Blast (the professional soccer team). It’s at a great location – within the city limits, on a main road, plenty of parking, and in a part of Baltimore that’s been experiencing a rapid explosion of upscale development: Canton.

Even better, our team approached the bar/restaurant in Canton (aka, the most popular one) and got them to sponsor us $1,000: Nacho Mammas. Rad, right?

The money’s rad, the location is rad, the Nacho Mamma’s bar owners and workers are rad, but sadly it seems every other patron in Canton is slightly less than rad – apparently this is where all the people moved when they graduated college and had to leave the fraternity or sorority houses.

In the course of one evening last week, when we had a viewing party for our Ace of Cakes episode at another bar in Canton, our lesbian ladies were being hit on by drunk men who would not take “I don’t like men” for an answer and proceeded to scream at our ladies, and our big derby girls were being made fun of to their faces by the ex-frat boys for being “fat” and “unattractive.”

“Oh, Christ,” I said last night. “I wonder if we’ll have to pay back the sponsorship money if we get into a bar fight.”

“Nah,” my teammate said, “It would probably actually get those people to come see us, and the bar owners would see it as a success.”

Derby doesn’t typically want to make me fight. I love the sport, I love my teammates, and I even love the ladies on the other teams, regardless of what game faces we have on come bout day. Perhaps I’ve given people in general the benefit of the doubt, in that everyone I seem to come into contact with is really supportive of derby and its diversity, and Baltimore has celebrated us as such a positive part of this city. I’ve never felt threatened, and I’ve certainly never been made fun of to my face. And now this.

Is derby really breaking down barriers and showing it’s fans great things about women of any shape or size, of any color or sexual preference, or does derby just naturally attract the people who already have and share the same ethics as we do?

I’m trying really hard to embrace the community that envelops our new bouting location. Part of me has pie in the sky hopes that our moving into their community will help break down some of the stereotypes many of these community members seem to have, but whether or not it actually will is another story.

I must qualify this entry in saying that we have had good experiences with the women in Canton – I think they’re ready for derby. The men? Well, at least a handful of them need to be schooled in equality and respect. Hopefully, if some of them show up on Saturday, we and our fans will set a good example of what respectful human beings look like – there is no “look,” it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

I suppose all we can do is what we already do and maybe bite our tongues a bit more and tout the positive aspects of derby. I am looking forward to having a team bar, a home base for the mighty Speed Regime! Come see us this Saturday, May 3 at 6pm at DuBurn’s Arena: $10 General Admission!!!

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