Our last day in the States was picture-perfect (and thus fits in well with the rest of the trip). We began by skating up and down the Hermosa Beach board walk: On top of the fact that it follows a lovely Pacific Ocean beach, it's super-smooth and really fun and easy to skate. We must've made very high squeeky noises of delight because we walked up to the ocean to discover two dolphins playing in the surf right in front of us. We're thinking that we went super-sonar and attracted them. After splashing around in the waves ourselves for a bit, we went to check out Square Cat Skates. And yes, the fact that Rage runs a skate shop basically ON the beach made us re-evaluate our life choices a little... Today was the perfect end to a perfect trip and if there weren't our loved ones and a very beloved roller derby team waiting for us in Vienna, we might just stay.
Have you ever wished you knew the people who live in refurbished lofts in LA's Fashion District? We certainly have and it turns out we actually do know someone: Malice Munro skated with us for a bit in Vienna before she went on to greater things and the Angel City Derby Girls. Thanks to her (and Herr Zac!), we got to spend our one night in LA with wonderful people and a very friendly cat in a prime location. We made our LA experience complete by hitting rush hour traffic on the way to Sta Ana where we were heading to practice with the Orange County Roller Girls. Our great friend Tease, who visited us in Vienna, had put this great team on the map for us and the notion of skating on a banked track into our heads. So, guess what, the world isn't flat! We were initially somewhat intimidated by the fact that the upper rim on the banked track was higher than we expected. Luckily, though, things were a little easier than they had looked once we got up on the track. The OC Roller Girls "Fresh Squeeze" (that name alone would make us want to be a new skater there!) were very patient in walking us through the basics of life on the banks and it only took about 10 minutes before we felt like we really never wanted to get off the track again. Skating "with" the track was as fun as skating against it was tough on our muscles. So, if anyone in Europe feels like building a banked track, please know that we'd definitely be in line to be allowed to skate on it!
So, life was already pretty much a beach before we hit the beach towns of Southern California: The gigantic Pacific Ocean, white sand, palm trees, and surfboard-under-arm pedestrians instantly put us in a hang-loose state of mind. We headed south to San Diego where some of Anktion's fondest childhood memories are rooted and got to stay in that same neighborhood with Judy who instantly became a great friend to all of us. She guided us around San Diego and was even able to recommend Doyle Park for a sunset round of skating on the first night. As the SoCal Roller Girls themselves phrased it, we "saved the best for last" and joined their practice on our last night in the States. It turns out that playing roller derby outside with a great group of women in southern San Diego really is a great way to finish off our kind of road trip.
We arrived in Las Vegas well-rested after two days of no skating and light hiking in Zion and Grand Canyon national parks. We dropped our rental car off at the airport, met the first skaters there, and even the shuttle chauffeur was already well-informed about roller derby since he had been driving RollerCon participants to the Riviera all day. The dry desert heat and the crazy hotels-gone-amusement-park architecture of Vegas stunned us - so much life in such a dry environment is amazing. We spent an average of 9 hours per day on skates and most of the rest of our waking days watching bouts and talking derby, little time was left for eating and sleeping but the excitement of it all carried us through 5 intense days. We'll spare you the details, instead, here are our top RollerCon moments:
1. All of Smarty Pants' classes (we took three of them) and her unique and very productive coaching style.
2. Stephanie Mainey's eye vision class in which we learned to have eyes at the back of our head and her blocking class in which we learned to hold back someone we could see with those secret eyes.
3. We've never felt as graceful on skates as we did in Dirty Deb Harry's classes; she revived the basics for us by being an excellent and down-right hilarious teacher.
4. We're not quite sure how she does it, but Juke Boxx can take you from barely getting your feet off the ground to jumping three people on the apex in two hours. She also teaches a mean Skatercize class in a can-totally-pull-it-off bodysuit whilst eating pizza.
5. Hurricane Heather makes jam-skating so fun that you don't realize how much you've learned for your derby skating until the class is over.
6. We found out that there are lots of almost magical ways to block that we'd never thought of in The Rev's classes.
7. After midnight, weird white foam begins to form on the Riviera pool and after two days your hotel room will "smell" of derby gear even when that gear is not in the room.
8. Demanda Riot uses the F-word very effectively to describe crotch weight (!), blocking technique, skating styles, and sneaky jammers and you've never really snow-plowed until you've done it Scald-Eagle-style with a lot of chatter and burning muscles. There is no particular reason why we mention these two together ;)
9. 8mean Wheeler's classes are bound to make your head spin: So much useful stuff that we'd never even remotely thought of before and just when you wish you could forget some of it again, you realize how important it all is.
10. Suzy Hotrod is the Justin Bieber of roller derby. She has the better hair and teaches in.an extremely insightful manner with so much dedication to demonstrating skills that she'll drag the mic across the track behind her for half a lap without the insane noise distracting her.
That's it. That's our list. That was RollerCon 2013 minus all of the great people we met, the volunteers who amazed us with their ability to good-naturedly deal with their jobs each and every day, the occasional fatigue, the derby crushes, and the overwhelming sense of community.