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Bum bruises and punny names: here's what happened when we tried roller derby

Photograph: Richard Annable

We all know what it's like to get caught up in the rat race. So we're shaking up our routine (and inspiring you to as well) by sending our journalists out to try some of Melbourne's weird and wonderful experiences. Follow us as we try something new, from rope bondage to roller derby. 

I’m trying not to think of all the ways I could injure myself – not to mention how embarrassing it will be when I fall on my arse. I know this is an inevitability, not a possibility, because I’m currently skating in circles on a suburban indoor basketball court, surrounded by ten or so padded-up roller derby newbies (known as fresh meat). Never heard of roller derby? This contact sport combines speedy wheels, agility and hilariously punny derby names (think Beyonslay, Assault and Pepper and Hermione Danger). It’s played by two teams who skate counterclockwise around a track trying to pass each other, get in each other’s way and knock each other out of bounds. From what I know about derby’s reputation, I’m certain I’m going to come out of this experience bruised and bloody – and I honestly can’t wait.

"This contact sport combines speedy wheels, agility and hilariously punny derby names."

But before the fun starts, we first have to learn how to skate safely in a group without falling. This is trickier than I expected, though I shouldn’t have been surprised seeing as I spent most childhood skate parties glued to the skate rink’s scuffed-up walls for safety. I’m trying, though, and thanks to the constant reminder from my coaches to bend my knees and look forward, not down, my fear of falling slowly evaporates. It’s mostly because I’m learning how to fall properly (on my knees with my fingers tucked into my fists). Soon enough I’m embracing my bum bruises in some weird act of masochistic pride.

Try it at: South Sea Roller Derby, Northside Rollers, Westside Derby Dollz, East Vic Roller Derby.

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