Big Joanie Weston was channeled on Saturday night in Nanaimo as fans were treated to an evening of Roller Derby Saturday night. The Harbour City Rollers(Nanaimo) and the Rink Minx from Comox Valley mixed it up on the concrete floor of the arena. Roller Derby is a new sport for many of the young women but that didn't tamp down their enthusiasm for the rough and tumble game. The Comox team emerged the victors but that was secondary to the show.
Aside from the athletic ability of the women, there is a lot of theatre. Campy costumes and over the top stage, or should I say, cement names are all part of the picture. For instance the coach of the Nanaimo team goes by the name of Tainted Shove and appears in heels and a sheath dress styled to show off her tattoos to advantage.
Roller Derby competitions started in the 30's but it wasn't until the 60s and 70s that it hit its TV peak. I first saw it on a little black and white portable and couldn't believe that women could be so tough and competitive. (This was back when we were 'ladies' and had a supply of white gloves to wear while shopping.)
One of the stars of the Derby was big Joanie Weston who played the heroine in the matches. She was the uncontested Roller Derby Queen, skated for the San Francisco Bay Bombers and was eventually inducted into the Roller Derby Hall of Fame.
The crowd at the ice arena was mostly young, but I'm willing to bet that those of us with grey hair were thinking about Joanie Weston while they were watching these young women mix it up.
The Harbour City Rollers meet the Salt Spring Island team on May 14 at the Frank Crane Arena.