Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories. In September, he launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. Every day, People’s District presents a different Washingtonian sharing his or her insights on everything from Go Go music to homelessness to fashion to politics. You can read his previous columns here.
Scarlet O’Snap on the D.C. Rollergirls
“I grew up in Baltimore. Every Saturday, I used to skate at the Putty Hill Skateland, where the Charm City Roller Girls started. When I was younger, I was really athletic and then, in college, I basically did absolutely nothing until I joined the derby four years ago. That was around the same time that the league got started. One of my good friends lives in Chicago, where I went to undergrad, and started the Windy City Rollers. She said, ‘When D.C. gets a roller league, you need to join.’ I finally saw something on Craigslist and joined the derby because I wanted a different social scene. I really stuck with it because I liked the athletic part.
“D.C. used to have a derby league called the Washington Jets, which was a co-ed, banked-track derby league in the 70’s. I don’t know what happened to them, but what we do is obviously very different. Our league started after the Rollergirls TV series on A&E, but the whole movement began well before that. The Texas Roller Girls were really the first modern derby league. It was very theatrical and wrestling-like. Rather than a penalty box, they had a spank alley where you would get spanked. Now, it draws more athletic people who don’t want an alter ego on the track or all the theatrics. I am the same on and off the track. I do have a derby name, Scarlet O’Snap, but I’m kind of over it now. I wanted something recognizable and sassy, and thought it was really funny four years ago when I picked it.
“The thing that makes D.C. really different from other leagues is how transient of a city this is. It is hard to keep people on for more than one season. We have three home teams: Scare Force One, The Cherry Blossom Bombshells and the D.C. Demoncats. We did have a fourth team, the Secretaries of Hate, which we had to fold because we didn’t have enough people. We are also known as a conservative league around the country because we’re not all covered in tattoos, and we all have 9-5 jobs as lawyers and teachers, or work for non-profits. I don’t think there’s one person in this league who does not have a 9-5 career, whereas in other leagues, it’s more the counterculture: bartenders and artists. But that is not what D.C. is like at all. Continues after the jump.
“I don’t think a lot of people recognize how much of a time commitment this is. We practice four-to-five times a week. We have nine bouts a season, plus a championship. We also all have responsibilities off the track. We’re all required to do stuff to support the league. It is very D.C.-ish that we have a highly structured board and everyone knows how to run non-profits. It’s also a very D.C. thing that we have people who work from 9-6, have kids and do this, too. D.C. is actually a bit of an older league, with most people being in their late 20s and 30’s. The league has no coaches and we are all self-taught. We run our own practices and have our own trainers. The refs are mostly people’s boyfriends, husbands, or fans who want to get more involved. All of this creates a well-oiled machine of awesomeness!”
Read more about the DC Rollergirls here.