There’s a roller derby event in Brighton tomorrow (Saturday 10th December). Not just that, but in actual central Brighton, within a 213-year-old building in the Pavilion grounds at heart of the Cultural Quarter. No, we’re not imagining it. After seven years of playing in an old (now demolished) Parcelforce depot in Shoreham and a leisure centre in genteel Haywards Heath, the Brighton Rockers are finally fulfilling their long-term ambition of ‘doing derby’ in the city itself.
2016 has been the Rockers’ most game packed year on record, with fifteen open door A- and B-team matches against teams from half a dozen different countries. So you can’t blame them for wanting to round off the year by, er, playing with themselves. Tomorrow’s game at Brighton Corn Exchange sees the league split into two factions – Team Black and Team Blue – with veteran coaches Mass Janeycide and Mistress leading the two sides into uncivil war.
Doors are at 4.45pm with the first half (between B-team level skaters) kicking off at 5.30. The A-team squads will inherit these scores for the second half. The Dome website promises live bands, DJs, face painting and more at this ‘Roller Derby Special’. Tickets are available online or from the Dome box office, priced £10.50 adults, £7.50 students and free for under 12s. With the size and shape of the space available, this event will see a few changes to the usual derby ruleset – that in itself makes this a unique and unmissable event. Let’s hear from some of those taking part…
“I’ve told loads of mates that have never been to any of our games. The moment I mention that this one is actually in Brighton, they go straight on their phones to buy tickets. It’s nice that it’s in a venue like the Corn Exchange, right in the heart of the city next door to the Pavilion. How many sports events take place in there? I love the fact that the Brighton Rockers are seen as a cultural thing.”
MASS JANEYCIDE, TEAM BLACK BENCH COACH
“Being part of the community and breaking that barrier between arts and sport and culture is such a big thing for us. We were the first sports team to be invited to participate in the Brighton Fringe, which we’ve done for several years now (albeit not in Brighton itself). Also the first sports team on the cover of the local listings mag. Now, we’re one of the first (if not THE first) sports events to take place in the Corn Exchange. It fits in with our ethos of trying to appeal to all walks of life, rather than just skating fans, sports fans or whatever.”
MISTRESS VON UBER VIXEN, TEAM BLUE BENCH COACH
“Team Black are the bee’s knees. We’ve got the speed and agility, plus we hit proper hard. We’re also all incredibly good-looking. Team Blue are named after the colour of the bruises we’ll be leaving them with.”
CAKE OR DEATH, TEAM BLACK
“Team Black are superior in only one respect. They are better at losing.”
DR WHOOLIGAN, TEAM BLUE
“I only know the Corn Exchange through gigs. I’ve no idea how it will be set up for derby, but I’m really excited about playing there. It’s going to be such a good vibe playing in our actual home town!”
GRENADE O’CONNOR, TEAM BLACK (PLAYING IN HER FIRST EVER GAME TOMORROW!)
[Photos by John Hesse]