Today’s post is about the Arch Rival Roller Girls 2012 Championships (Flickr link right there). They were held on April 28th at Chaifetz Arena in Saint Louis, MO. It was a notable night for many reasons and I am glad that I was able to be there for the bouts.
The Arch Rival Roller Girls practice in St. Louis City, largely live in St. Louis City, support and work at businesses in St. Louis City, contribute to the arts and social scene of St. Louis City, promote civic causes and charities in St. Louis City, pay taxes and support the parks, recreation, and public works of St. Louis City, stick St. Louis City stickers on their cars and helmets, and in one case, are even named after the Mayor of St. Louis City. Cool story, bro?
But something’s missing. They never actually get to bout in St. Louis City. There aren’t many good venues, and the ones that do exist are really, really expensive for a volunteer-staffed organization to rent out. After a lot of hard work by members of the league, for the first time ever, ARRG was able to play a bout within the city limits. And it was amazing.
Chaifetz Arena is located on the Saint Louis University campus and houses their basketball program, along with a bunch of other concerts, graduations, seminars, and other things that require seats for about 8000-9000 people. ARRG didn’t sell nearly that many seats, and the small tornado that hit just before the bout didn’t help attendance either, but the crowd definitely enjoyed the best experience they’ve seen in St. Louis derby.
The evening started with a tribute to Fo Jammi, one of the original ARRG referees, who recently passed away far before his time. All of the referees and NSOs wore jerseys and T-shirts with his name printed on the back, and his number was retired in a ceremony before the game began.
After the ceremony, the games began. The first game played was between the Smashinistas and the Rebel Skate Alliance, for third place. The Smashinistas won in a resounding victory. The second, Championship, bout was between the M-80s and the Stunt Devils. After an hour of knocking around, the M-80s took the trophy for the third time. A dance party followed at Firebird, which may have been one of the best after parties in St. Louis as well.
I can’t tell you how great the venue was. They had had large video screens in each corner, showing the game in progress plus instant replays, and the venue staff were really into the whole affair. They told me that they had watched a roller derby rules demonstration video a few times before the bout and figured out what they should focus on. Pretty smart, and good job to the Chaifetz staff. The overhead lighting was even and color controlled, giving me a lot of options for creativity. I did throw some speedlights up in a couple corners, but I didn’t use them for as much of the bout as I do at our normal venue.
I really hope that the league can get back to Chaifetz – and soon. Maybe if there were more sponsors, or more consistent and higher ticket sales, it could be a reality. Maybe some civic leaders could help influence sponsors and spread the word about this great thing that happened in their city – and could happen again. I think this is where derby belongs in St. Louis.