Just got back from Rollercon in Vegas. For the seventh year in a row, this is pretty much the only reason I'll undertake going to the desert in the middle of summer to stay at a shit hotel. I'm tired, hungover, and ate a LOT of food. No skating, thanks to the patellar tendonitis in my right knee. But I did wander around a lot, talked to many, MANY people, and got to hone the announcing skills. Here's an impromptu personal best/worst list:
Best Drinking Buddy: Cherry Chainsaw from TXRD. Whenever she's not at Rollercon, my fun level drops 75%. I won't be her(or anyone else's)derby wife, but she's one of my most favoritist people in derbydom. She helps me by taking on any and all drinks I can't finish, because she firmly believes in the rule of, No Drink Left Behind.
Best Experience While Volunteering: announcing with Dumptruck for the Derby News Network feed of the Team Awesome/Team SeXY rematch. Dumpy makes announcing look so easy and so fun, but it's really interesting to see him behind the scenes, taking his job very, VERY seriously. But once he goes live, he knows how to balance having fun with doing his job effectively. The best part is his habit of turning to his announcing partner to involve them in the announcing process. I've learned so much about announcing just from that seemingly minor detail.
Best Venue for Rollercon: The Riviera hotel. It's a shithole. But it's not the worst shithole RC has been at. The first RC was at a hotel appropriately named Terrible's. Then there was the Plaza, which made me fear for my personal safety numerous times over the course of four days. Imperial Palace was a maze of ridiculousness, and the only reason it was acceptable at all was because of its location on the Strip and its dealertainers. The Tropicana and Hooters? They weren't bad, but they apparently didn't want the likes of us back.
But the Riviera? Not only do they have One-Notch-Above-Scuzz rooms, but they had enough convention space to house ALL of Rollercon's activities, including space for 3 FUCKING TRACKS. For the first time in four years, everything RC related was in one facility. That's ten bajillion times better than taking a non-air conditioned double-decker bus to an off-site facility that barely fit two tracks and was kinda boring to hang out at because nothing else was walking distance in the area.
Which brings me to...
Best Excuse to Leave the Riviera Occasionally: to go next door to the Ross Dress For Less to shop for something cheap and fancy for the Black and Blue Ball. Since we've been working like crazy and had no time to plan fancy outfits, it was great to get something for under $20 that looked good poolside and fit into the color theme of black and/or blue. While you're out at Ross, you can also stop in to the Peppermill Lounge for a salad the size of your head while wearing an econo-sized sombrero while sipping on an expensive mojito. 24 hours a day. WIN.
Best New Item of Clothing: I finally got to meet and greet Luludemon, founder of the Canadian clothing line, PivotStar. She's English, but lives and skates in Canada. She went back to the UK around the same time I took my first trip there, and she posted some really fun video blogs of her visit. If you remember, PivotStar had a contest last year to name their sleeveless hoodie after a skater, and I lost to a skater who had more Facebook friends than me. However, Luludemon sent me one of the hoodies(which some awesome friends still call a "Tara Armov hoodie" despite the contest results), which was very nice of her to do. For one of the challenge games, she supplied the team with Chicabomb shorts. Now, I thought the shorts would look horrible on me. They don't. Buy them. They look gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood. On anyone and everyone.
Best Logo Use: Iron Maiven asked me to do a logo for a fanny pack giveaway her clothing company, Iron Doll, was doing to promote her Lift and Separate shorts. So I did. It turned out to be very, very popular. I now want a shirt with said logo on it, just because. Check out the facebook page of all the Lift and Separate contestants. It's tremendous.
Best Reason to Hang Out by the 24-Hour Pool: watching the unwashed and horny dude-masses think that they have any remote chance in hell to get into the non-pants of a seemingly-wild and willing roller derby player. I watched several small groups of four or five bros saunter poolside with the aplomb of a peacock in full feathery glory. By the time they wandered a quarter of the way around the pool, they were visibly shaken and their confidence levels had dropped approximately 4000%. If they managed to stick around past halfway around the pool, they were crying for their crackhead mothers and had shat themselves. It was really fucking funny.
Best Conversation with Random Strangers of the Weekend: I was sitting at an outdoor patio not far from the pool, drinking Four Loko. What?! Anyway, two Brazilian skaters came up to me out of the blue, introduced themselves, stated that they knew I was Tara Armov and started talking to me about how great it was that former SD skater Bonnie D. Stroir came to South America to train. I ended up talking to them for quite awhile, and they were cute as buttons. I am so excited to talk to skaters from outside the US!
Best Approach to get a Tara Tattoo: buying me a drink is a sure-fire way to get me to draw on you. If you don't have that, come up to me when I'm goofing off at the Derby News Network booth and ask if you could get a drawing, and then hand me a handmade necklace of your league logo. That's what Andrematron from Crossroads City Derby in New Mexico did. And it worked beautifully!
Best Unexpected Gift: I finally met Vicorp, one of the founders of Cheezeballs Bearings. He had asked me to test out some bearings several months ago, and who am I to say no? Anyway, he came up to me on Thursday afternoon, introduced himself, and promptly dropped a Wicked fannypack full of sharpies into my lap. You might need these! he states. Damn right! Just as I was about to test out the sharpies on him, he was literally called away to deal with business stuff at RC, and that was the last I saw of him. NO BUENO.
Best Expected Gift: two Louise bunny-ear hats that were given out as Comic Con goodies during the Bob's Burgers panel this year. I couldn't go to Comic Con, and the artists working on the show hadn't gotten said hats, but a referee from Terminal City, Johnny Qwadd, managed to grab the bunny-ear hats and send them to me through the afore-mentioned Luludemon. I looked like a goober wearing them, but wear them I did.
Best Meal: going to the Rio's seafood buffet with the Dear Husband and Cherry Chainsaw. It was worth gaining the ten thousand pounds I put on over the course of the weekend.
Best Reason to Be Hated: Hellarad.Though now they're becoming popular, which probably means they're going through some heavy-duty self-loathing right now.
Best Half Hour of Power: stumbling across retired LADD skater and author Kasey Bomber, Mad Dog, and a few other friends while they're meeting up with Hellarad for a very structured drinking session known as the Half Hour of Power. It apparently consists of one's favorite alcoholic beverage and taking a shot of said beverage every two minutes. It's very effective for a pleasant drunken level very quickly.
Best Advertising: as usual, the LADD Enforcers have more fun than everyone else put together, and they do so creatively. This year's project was mimicking the escort services that advertise on the Strip by hiring schmoes to stand on the sidewalk wearing neon shirts and "slapping" the cards of the whore of your choice together before handing said card to you. Hilarity ensued when skaters found out that the website was real and the phone number was live.
Best "Do You Know Who I Am?!" Moment: Sunday morning, gray and hurtful after a long Saturday night. I was shuffling to the vendor area when I passed a skater who was wearing a Better Red Than Dead shirt. I have no idea who she was. I smiled at her. She gave me a polite "I'm smiling at you because you're smiling at me but it's really fucking obvious I don't know you so maybe you should move along" smile. SHE'S WEARING MY FACE ON HER BOOBS AND SHE DIDN'T RECOGNIZE ME SMILING AT HER.
The real topper: right after this, I stopped to get a bacon and cheddar sandwich for the Dear Husband. The dude at the counter called me "sir". Fuck my life.
Worst Outfit: anything that Dumptruck and Megatron wore when they went pantsless. I tried to drown my eyes in alcohol, but it didn't work. Second place: the league that wore bandaids and tutus to the Black and Blue ball. Put on some clothes, bitches, the Dbag DudeBro creeping problem was exacerbated because of you.
Worst Room: I heard a story about an LA skater's hotel room that had not been cleaned after the previous guests had vacated the premises. Eww. Just...EWWWWW.
Worst Situation to Meet New People: late at night, poolside, after a long day working and then flying to Vegas from LAX. I fucked myself over on that one. Never again. And then people violated my DON'T TOUCH ME rule so much I just took the Victorian attitude and dreamed of England every time I was hugged. I shake my fist at the lot of you.
Worst Security: one of the reasons the Riviera should've been awesome was their 24-hour pool. But on Saturday night, they closed the pool because they claimed they hadn't hired a lifeguard. Uhm...what?! Everyone knows they have a goddam 24-hour pool. The running theory was that the Riviera didn't want to deal with another night of near-nudity and beer in the pool from partying guests. Scumbag dudebros doing that? That's fine. Near-nekkid derby girls? O NOES. They later did open the pool, but...cracka, please. Stop sucking. We're no worse than the scumbags that usually frequent the premises. In fact, we're classing the joint up. So fuck off and let us have our goddam fun.
Worst Cut Off: all weekend one was able to bring in water and even drinks into the main room of RC. Then all of the sudden, about an hour before the Grande Event of the Weekend that was the rematch between B.A.D. Girls and Denver Roller Dolls, everyone was told no outside drinks were allowed in the venue. A bar had been set up nearby, selling overpriced watered-down drinks for the unprepared. WEAKSAUCE.
Worst Attitude: shit got SO SERIOUS this year. The usually ridiculously fun challenge games had a requirement of its team captains to submit rosters in advance...like a real game. WTF. Most of the fun of these games is the ability to show up in the appropriate color shirt and lurk around to see if there are any open slots on the team four minutes before the game begins. The excuse given? Refs need training. Now...they do. BUT...how about setting up classes that are geared towards the refs where maybe some skaters are there mimicking game scenarios for the refs to dissect and work out? Most leagues have to take a fairly serious outlook on their games because their existence depends on it. Challenge games? Pure ridiculousness that shouldn't be regulated to death like a real game because it doesn't. Mean. SHIT in the general scheme of things.
And there was behavior that was kaibashed at a WFTDA-sanctioned game that would've happened if it were a public game. Having rules be stricter for a non-public game proves...what, exactly? So what if there's heckling? Or an occasional beer? Will the derby world end? I doubt it. If it does, then it really and truly wasn't meant to be. Lighten the fuck up, people. Derby should only be serious business when it's actual business. RC is business, but it shouldn't be stick-up-your-ass serious, because that sucks the fun out of it. And why the hell do we do this crazy hobby? Oh, right, IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.
Worst Wardrobe Malfunction: the four shirts I ordered for delivery at RC didn't happen, despite me getting the order in on time. I was PUH-HISSED the hell off about it. I still kinda am, as two of the shirts were for challenge game teams I had hoped to bench coach, and a third was a gift for Cherry Chainsaw. There went that clever idea. After a few hours of sulking and a nap, I met up with Cherry and ended up drinking and drawing most of the evening. That works.
Worst Elevator Ride: luckily I wasn't directly involved in this one, though I could've been. At one point Saturday night, 22 people, most of them involved with BAD Girls or Hellarad, got stuck in an elevator for a half hour. I'm apparently claustrophobic, because the mere thought of something like that happening to me icks me out to the point where I need to go outside just so I regain a sense of scale in life. Luckily there were handsome firemen who saved the unfortunate elevator riders from certain death by farts.
Worst Seminar: I didn't get to go to any of the classes or seminars for one reason or another(read: I ended up meeting up with someone and talking their damn ear off), and so I missed Kasey Bomber's seminar where she was pushing her book, Down and Derby. I heard that there was a certain derby personality in the audience who was rude, constantly interrupting Kasey, and then pimping SOMEONE ELSE'S BOOK. Who the fuck does that?! Oh, entitled opportunistic jerkoffs, that's who. Stop riding the young'uns coattails and DO something that's non-destructive, will ya?!
Worst Hangover: all things considered, the Four Loko let me off easy. But waking up this morning still sucked.
Photos and addendums coming soon...