Vive la Revolution!

With top notch coaches such as Quadzilla (US), Joy Collision (captain Team America), Ballistic Whistle (UK), Roxy Rockett (US), Teflon Donna (US), Kamikaze Kitten (UK), Hidden Ajjenda (US), Luludemon (Can), 8mean Wheeler (Can), Derby Revolution brought together around 300 of derby players, about 25 of refs, and quite some and derby gear vendors from all over Europe.

While it was a 4 days convention, I was there for ‘only’ 2. The full 4 seemed great but quite demanding, 2 seemed intense enough, though. Work assignments decided for me that I would only be going during the weekend and 2 days turned out perfect for me. It was long enough to learn tons of new skills and strategies, give me the muscle soreness of a lifetime, without ‘overdoing’ it and making me wish for moooore.

I can’t say there was any class I did not like. But of course there were a few that will stick a little more than others. These were my highlights:

I loved the blocker class by Teflon Donna. She is awesome (period) in breaking down exercises so that the concept of the drill is very clear and easy to grasp. I learned that to be the kick ass blocker I want to be, I need to be a kick ass cone weaver. So we did some exercises on that, and indeed: by the end of the class I managed to hip check my opponent very effectively, several times in succession. Added to wish list: a set of cones to practice my weaving more! :)

She also taught us a whole set of different ways to transition, skating back to forth and back. Since that is one of my weak points, it was good to go over the options, as I believe I just haven’t found my ideal way to transition yet. Teflon Donna likes to end her classes by going over all the steps we’ve learned in each class, so you’ll memorize it better.

8Mean Wheeler, über-pivot extraordinaire, had some wisdom to share on how to communicate and multitask as a pivot, and showed us some nifty blocking skills. In my first class with her, we were taught to speak in our ‘bad dog-voice’, which is speaking loudly and lowly from your diaphragm, instead of high and loud, which is an energy draining way to speak – and you’ll hurt your throat as a bonus. So after a few rounds of practice speaking loudly and lowly while standing still, she made us do an exercise in which we ‘commanded’ one skater, while communicating normal to another. Not as easy as you might think! When focussing (too much) on one teammate, you’re prone to forget about your other co-players. So good to practice on that multitasking aspect.

I was also charmed and impressed by her ability to use figure of speech to clarify and memorize a drill. I’ll remember for ever practice ‘not pee on my skates’ as to make sure I bring my ass towards the floor when going low. Not mentioning the ‘Show me the money-block’ and the ‘Check your shave’. Priceless.

Also priceless: her and PivotStar-partner Luludemon’s Canada Day attire. Happy Canada Day!

photo by Ian Roofthoofd

And then there was a jammer blocking class by Kamikaze Kitten, where we learned the Golden Rule on when to close the gap on the jammer at the in- or outside of the track, when blocking in a wall. When she disappears from your peripheral sight – STEP! or, depending how far you are: SHUFFLE! to close that gap.

Quadzilla taught us about pack strategies and ways to counter that annoying sausage thing. He assured us that we

photo by Ian Roofthoofd

probably won’t be dealing with it much longer (in it’s current, annoying form) as a change of rules is at hand. Yay!

And then there were the scrimmages. Fabulous to watch, but also an amazing experience to be a part of as a player. Yes, I played one: the very final scrimmage even (major thanks to C.C. Titmouse and Wham! Bam! Wonterjam! who encouraged me to do it). To be able to play with titans like Quadzilla, Kamikaze Kitten and Ballistic Whistle… wow, just wow.

Being trained by these people, who were just so awesome and patient, AND getting to play with them, is quite a humbling experience. They showed me nifty ways to hit and block, and to be a much better derby player. I’m sure that all participants feel that they left Derby Revolution as a better player, with the knowledge that there’s still soooo much to learn and to master. Which is an awesome fact in itself.

Derby Revolution is now over and life just isn’t the same since. Looking back on a weekend full of derby full fills me with good memories and a desperate need to go back in time. It puts a big smile on my face when I think back on all the awesomeness I got to be a part of.

photo by Colin Smith

Much respect and for SuckerPunch, derby owned skate shop in Ghent and organizer of this unforgettable event. Thank-you for making derby dreams come true! And errr… where can I sign up for next year’s edition?

 

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