The return is imminent.
I have not had any caffeine in hours and yet my heart is racing as I start to write this blog. It’s coming. It’s almost here: ROLLERCON 2014! Starting next Monday, all the people who love derby from all over the world will be flying into Sin City for 5 days of scrimmages, bouts, seminars, on skates classes, off skates hell workouts, parties, karaoke, vagine, new technology, merch, picture taking, hero worshipping, dancing, new friends, olds friends, and the kind of frivolity that McGonagall would never approve of.
[I tried to find a proper picture of Professor McGonagall for right here but I couldn’t. So this is what you get instead]
Your guide to navigating Rollercon 2014 is here. I will do my best to share what I’ve learned in 2 very different years at the convention, and what you should be looking forward to as you and your 5000 closest friends over take The Riviera. This is just scratching the surface, it’s what has come to mind first. Part 1 is all about what you should bring and the surface level of the convention. The second part will get into some specifics about events and where you should be and what you should check out!
SOME BASIC TERMS (some of these seem silly, but if you’ve never been there before)
Bout – Hour long derby, and they always take place on the main track (there are two side tracks as well. Not sure what their names are going to be yet)
Challenge – 30 minute derby with no half time
Drop-in – When you are pulled in for a challenge bout right before the damn thing is about to start.
Top of the Riv (ToR) – The ballroom at the top of the Monaco Tower; off skates trainings and most parties happen here
Dicks – The volunteers that are keeping the convention running smoothly (buy them drinks or be one yourself! Go here: http://rollercon.com/help-wanted/ for more information)
Seminar – The Seminars are different from off skate training; these are business classes and round tables and very beneficial for the back end of your derby life
Off skates – Bring sneakers and water – it’s training time!
PODO – Pants Off Dance Off. It’s a thing.
SkyBox – Each full length bout has SkyBox tickets that you can purchase for an extra fee, so that you have a bird’s eye view of all the action and you don’t have to fight for a seat in the bleachers.
DefCon – This is the “Security” **cough** hacker **cough** convention that is in town the same time as RC. It’s fun to play “Spot the Defcon guy” at Black n Blue. As a sidenote, if you get anything from DefCon or from your friend that goes to it, make sure you know what it is before you try and cross international lines with it. #JustSaying
You’ve made the decision to hit Vegas. AWESOME! Before the fun begins, the planning has to happen. Even the most experienced RollerConners will feel a sense of “HOLY SHIT IT’S ROLLERCON”. It is sensory overload from the moment you walk through the doors of the Riv. Here are some things I have learned over the years that make it a little easier.
1) Don’t overpack. It’s tempting to. You don’t need 10 sets of wheels. You don’t need 10 dresses. You don’t need 7 bathing suits. Yes, there are special things you’re going to want to pack, so make it easy on yourself and bring the basics for the rest of your stay. Besides, inevitably you’re going to get stuff AT the Con that you’ll need to fit into that suitcase. There is one thing you’re allowed to overpack…
Last year my RC experience started on the plane when I happened to have the seat next to YMMRD skater Dirty Larry. He still talks to me, so I must not have annoyed him too badly
2) Bring blank colored tops. If you plan on being a drop in, you cannot count on getting to use your own number. Check out the challenge bout schedule (http://rollercon.com/calendars/bouts-challenges/) and figure out what colors are going to be playing when you are going to be available. Bring shirts of those colors with no numbers and bring a thick black sharpie to write with! If you’re bringing black, you may want to invest in a WHITE OUT or WHITE FABRIC PAINT PEN. #protip
3) Do not ignore your nutrition. You still need to eat 6-8 times a day. You still need to drink a minimum of 3/4s of your body weight (pounds), in ounces, of water per day. When in doubt, drink a gallon!! The recycled air, the heat, the exercising, the excitement – it all takes a toll on your body. You need water. You need VITAMINS. You need protein. You need all the things you do in normal life x5. (If you want or need extra guidance on this, drop me a line at DerbyAmerica@yahoo.com … there’s a reason DERBALIFE is super popular at RollerCon each year, and I’m still taking pre-orders for the supplements that will get you through the week).
4) Pack equipment for the hotel room. Yes, during the Con, there is access to water coolers. However, you’d be surprised how much time you DON’T spend around those coolers. Having a water pitcher filter in your hotel room can really save you. I also bring an electric tea kettle so I can make tea, coffee, hard boiled eggs, soup, etc etc in my room. Box stores will usually have decent ones for $10-$20. If you can’t find a wide mouth kettle, a personal crock pot will work well too. If you don’t want to lug it in your suitcase, and you haven’t bought one yet, just have it shipped TO the Riv. Just remember to leave some space in that bag!
5) Hitch a ride to the grocery store as soon as possible. Many of us fly in a day or two early so that we can do our pre-con prep. That includes finding someone with a rental car and getting to the grocery store. The food available within the con is acceptable and the food court food is excellent, but it adds up quick. Most of us would rather buy that Pivot Star shirt than have to save money for another meal, so go to the store! If you have a fridge, get milk, eggs (assuming you have something to cook them in), lunch meat, pre-cooked chicken, and yogurt. No fridge? Jerky, pre-cooked rice, pre-cooked soups and Indian food, trail mix, apples, and protein bars (at least 7g of protein in them, please) are great to keep in your room! You can do food at the con for cheap. That’s something else I can really help you with if you need it: Derbyamerica@yahoo.com if you need help making a plan.
6) Branch away from your league. If you don’t know many people outside of your league, use the forums, the lines, the vendor rooms as an exercise in networking. Be friendly, ask people questions, and get to know the other people in your community. You never know when it will be helpful down the road, plus who doesn’t love having extended family across the globe?
7) Look at the schedules beforehand, but don’t overcommit yourself. Allow some flexibility in your schedule. Even pros will decide they’re going to do too much, too often and burn out quickly. Especially if you haven’t been taking care of yourself leading up to the con! You’re going to want to take all the classes, but you’re going to have to wait in line for the classes, you’re going to want to grab lunch with new friends, you’ll get sucked into DerbySkinz room for longer than you thought, you’ll notice a bout you wanted to see, you’ll get asked to be IN a bout randomly… there’s a lot going on. Schedule, but be flexible.
8) Other Packing Necessities: CHAP STICK, Water bottle, Sharpies (label your shit), money/card clips are super handy, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, sneakers, outdoor wheels, skate tool, bearing lube, notebook and plenty of pens, shirts that you may want to have heat pressed, things you may want to have signed by your derby idols.
11) Sleep. No seriously. Don’t be afraid to escape back to your room for a mid-afternoon recharge. It’s kind of awesome to do it actually. Especially if you’re planning on being up all night at the parties.
10) Become aware of SkateSafe. This is a rad group of individuals that are out to raise awareness and help us make better decisions in an environment that encourages bad ones. I could go over it here, but why don’t you just visit the page and take a look at the awesome tips and suggestions: http://rollercon.com/about/skatesafe/
11) Alcohol is fun, but alcohol and skating don’t mix. Most of us have practiced hungover. It’s not fun. Pace yourself. And never EVER have a drink before you get on your skates! Wait until your athletic fun is done for the day before you pour your libations.
This is going to be one of the most awesome, overwhelming weeks of your life. One more tip, and be on the lookout of part TWO of “How to RollerCon”:
12) Don’t throw your wallet on the ground repeatedly as a joke. You can do it once or twice, but that’s really it. You will lose your credit card. Right Julius Pleaser? “WORST ROLLERCON EVER!”