Saturday was a night for the die-hards, as roller derby fans left the comfort of cozy homes, scraped ice off windshields, and braved the slippery streets to Fast Forward Skate Center. Their destination: the Mad Rollin' Dolls' second annual Holiday Expo Bout.
The rink sparkled with the usual festive trimmings: twinkling icicle lights, glittering tinsel, decorated trees, hideous holiday sweaters, a mall rabbi, and throngs of women bedecked in tutus, red plush robes, and a shocking spectrum of fishnet stockings. Just like Christmas at Grandma's, no doubt.
Skaters from all four home teams joined forces as the Candy Canes (in slinky Santa robes) and Ice Queens (think "Nutcracker" snowflake dancers on crack) for some preseason fun -- and a little holiday-fueled aggression therapy.
A bevy of clever seasonal nicknames were tossed around the rink (my personal favorite was a tie between Yule Shoot Your Eye Out and Faggy Pudding), while fans got their photos snapped with the Mall Rabbi, grabbed obligatory beers, and settled in for a festival of fights -- one part naughty, one part nice.
With rosters of 21 each, the teams kept the score close for all three periods. But despite some solid skating by Canes jammers Gingerbread Mouse, Dolly Holiday (Dolly Pardon Me), and Back Doris, the Queens reigned. With stellar performances by Yules (Jewels) of Denile, Thunder Kitten, and Holly Berry (Wildberry Punch), the brutal ballerinas proved that there's simply something magical about a tutu.
After a long summer of training, the newest additions to the MRD roster got their first taste of bouting, and despite the night's friendly premise, the vets didn't take it easy on the fresh meat. The hits were harder than ever and often sent the newbies airborne, causing front-row fans to shelter their beers. Those very fans must have been good this year, though: it being "ugly sweater" night, any fan who caught a skater in the lap was awarded with hideous holiday garb that made Ralphie's pink bunny suit look good.
Like a splash of brandy in the apple cider, fan-favorite "Nut" Crackerjack joined Windy City's Val Channukapon (Val Capone) behind the mics, while announcers Bob "Bobsled" Noxious and Yukon Jack Cornelius (a.k.a. Baam Baam) took on the captain roles. Madison's own Cherry Pop Burlesque entertained the crowd at halftime, shedding their clothes and prancing around in stilettos while singing derby-inspired carols.
The final score: Ice Queens 111, Candy Canes 95.
The Dolls take off their tutus and put on their game faces on Saturday, Jan. 26, for the season opener, which will pit the Quad Squad against the Unholy Rollers and the Vaudeville Vixens against the Reservoir Dolls.
Melissa Faliveno skates as Harlot Bronte with the Mad Rollin' Dolls and works as an editor and freelance writer in her spare time.