About a month or so ago, I watched the movie “Roll Bounce.” So first off, if you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend watching it. Be warned though… it may make you want to start a Roll Bounce Gang. Or maybe not. But just be warned.
I grew up skating at Lloyds Roller rink in Calgary, AB, and I am lucky enough that it is still around. It is still the place to be if you wanna get your roll on. And it still has the same decor and disco balls from when I used to frequent the rink in the 80s. I take the kids there once a week, and now I go by myself one night a week as well. Why you ask? To start a roll bounce gang of course.
I have decided that this year is the year that I am going to jam. I will jam and block, but I will be intentionally working on my jamming skills and never turn down an opportunity to jam and learn. So in my quest to build my jam skills, I approached a good derby friend and asked him for some mentorship. He is an old school jam skater who naturally fell in to the jammer role once he found derby. And he can roll bounce like nobody’s business.
I met with him last Monday night, and he skated around with me and chatted about the art of jamming, along with the art of roll bouncing. A fast song comes on and he says, “just follow me as close as possible, and do what I do.” All my trust was put in him to lead the way as we whipped around that rink rolling, bouncing, dodging roller rink patrons and narrowly squeezing through people who leave an inch for us to get by. It was terrifying, and yet invigorating. We were flying… and I wasn’t scared.
I feel like it’s important to say that this kind of skating is not done full of derby gear. As someone who has skated my entire life at Lloyds, I have never worn gear there. In fact, the only time I wear gear is when I’m playing derby, practicing derby, or skating outside. I don’t skate derby at roller rinks…. I skate differently. I have caution, control, and maybe even a little bounce. I dance and sing, and that is just how I roll. So the terrifying part comes from this. I was not ready for a fall, and I made damn sure a fall didn’t happen. But that meant taking risks and working on one foot balance and agility, and stops. Oh the stops. You must be able to stop (or change direction) on a dime if you don’t want to fall at a roller rink.
And this is the beginning of our roll bounce gang journey. We skate in a line, all rolling and bouncing in sync, grinning from ear to ear, and all relying on the person in front of us to guide us safely around the rink and between the other skaters. I love it. And this is part of my journey to becoming a jammer. And how I fit derby in my life, even if it’s not technically derby.