By: John “Fragglepuss” Evans
What do you get when you cram 5,000 people into the Riviera in Las Vegas for almost a week? You get Rollercon! 2012 was my first year attending Rollercon and it was definitely an experience. Before leaving for the convention I had ideas about how I thought it would be, based upon the stories of people that had previously attended the largest gathering of Roller Derby members in the world. Some of the stories lived up to the hype while I was completely unprepared for others.
I flew into Las Vegas early Wednesday morning to find a line waiting for registration. I was lucky to arrive early because the line continued to build until it was practically as far as the eye could see. This was the first but not the last line to be seen at Rollercon. The on-skates training sessions caused lines to build throughout the week with skaters antsy to learn from some of the best in the world. There were a variety of training sessions for all skill levels to help every type of skater. Once inside the venue, it was a well prepared location. Stadium-style seating with skyboxes were available to watch the bouts and scrimmages that constantly filled three tracks from Wednesday through Sunday. There was always Derby to watch and jump in on if that was your desire.
The WFTDA-sanctioned bouts were interesting to watch. Philly and Denver both had a great weekend, Rocky played pretty well, while Rose and Minnesota both dropped the ball. Philly and Denver both looked very impressive in all of their bouts and I am excited to watch them play at their regional playoffs. I heard about how Rose was short on jammers due to injury and other reasons, but as it stands they got beat up on pretty good. All I can say about them is that I sure hope that they are full strength by the regional playoffs, because if not they are going to have a rough time.
I could end my Rollercon summary here with only discussing the skating aspect of Rollercon, but doing so would withhold so much of the Rollercon experience. There were always after-hours activities happening at Rollercon. There was the Riedell Luau, the derby wedding, the Black and Blue Ball, karaoke, and of course an all-hours pool. I had heard so much about these parties from previous Rollercon attendees, and their explanations rang true, this being that you have to be there to truly appreciate it. All of these parties were a great time, and people really go all out for them.
Rollercon reaffirmed several thoughts that I have regarding Roller Derby. First off, Roller Derby attracts people from all walks of life. It is a unique sport that brings together so many people that would otherwise not appear to have anything in common. Next, it is interesting that the “Celebrities” of Roller Derby can be recognized by everyone inside the convention and then recognized by practically no one by the time they reach the airport to fly home. This shows me that Roller Derby is a growing sport, but has a long ways to go in reaching the general population. The number of international skaters at Rollercon and the high amount of vendors are another example of how Roller Derby is growing. Another thought regarding Derby growth is how awesome it is to see the dedication of everyone involved with Roller Derby. There were long lines for classes, showing that skaters are concerned with improving their skills. There were three tracks running scrimmages constantly, showing that skaters are always wanting to play. The WFTDA sanctioned bouts were crowded with spectators, showing that people want to watch good Derby and learn from it.
In the end, Rollercon was a ton of fun. There were pros and cons to it. There were some things that I would do the same and other things that I would do differently. However, the pros outweighed the cons and I enjoyed myself for the entire stay. I have only been home for a day, but I already miss the constant Derby action and I plan on going back next year. In addition, the overall chatter that I heard was that people learned a lot and had a good time. For the people that planned a week long get together for 5,000 people from all around the world, I would say they did a terrific job.