For the past five years or so, I’ve had a list in my head of things I’d like to do when/if I return to the US:
1) Get a motorcycle license.
2) Learn Spanish.
3) Join a roller derby team.
Roller derby in its current incarnation was revived, well, deep in the heart of Texas. Ironically enough, one of the things I’ll miss the most about Hamburg specifically will by my first roller derby team, the Harbor Girls.
Hamburg is a city based on PR. Image and reputation is present here like in no other city I’ve lived in. So even if you are a punk or an anarchist, you generally fit a certain visual image. People shell out hundreds of euros to look grungy or to have the perfect shade of green hair. So it’s only natural that a tough-girl sport like roller derby found its way into the St. Pauli tattoo bad-ass culture.
I’ll admit, I was partially attracted to the sport by the image. Girls who don’t take crap from no one, who come up with goofy pseudonyms. “Yeah, cool, sounds like fun and like it would pull together a neat community of strong women.” Yes, there IS the theater aspect. This ain’t no professional wrestling, but you still get to make a persona who is assertive and possibly scary. For many women who learned to be polite and put the needs of others before there own, there’s something refreshing about knocking people over and burping at practice.
But I fell in love with the sport itself. First of all, skating is awesome. It was awesome when I was 10 years old, and it is awesome now. The rules of roller derby are complicated, but logical. The penalties are many, but fair and in the interest of player safety. And the strategy – wow, I’ve just scratched the surface of intelligent and creative team plays and individual moves. There are offensive, defensive strategies and you really have to play as a team if you want to succeed.
So now that I’m actually moving to the US, I have a head start on #3. I’ll be starting this modern American sport with skills “Made in Germany”.