Roller Girls: Club aims to boost membership with dance party

Roller skate enthusiasts and those interested in giving it a whirl are invited to roll up to the Sechelt arena this weekend for a roller skate dance party, hosted by the Sunshine Coast Roller Girls (SCRG) in collaboration with Rolla Skate Club.

The SCRG expects to lose a little money on the Saturday bash, but they have another more important goal in mind.

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“It’s to get people into roller skating,” said Elke Starck, also known by her derby name, El Kaboom. The referee and board director says the Sunshine Coast league has experienced a drop in numbers recently.

No bouts were held on the Sunshine Coast this year because they didn’t have enough participants to field a team. Currently, their roster stands at approximately eight skaters.

The party will be produced by Vancouver-based Rolla Skate Club, run by two veteran derby players, Lulu Demon and Booty Quake, who travel to different venues with a truck full of roller skates to rent, along with music and lights. This party’s theme is heroes and villains.

“I’m very excited… The more people we can get out the better,” said Starck, who is hopeful that those who try will be enamoured with the sport and could end up as players in “our little league on the Coast.”

The timing is also strategic as the league, which launched in 2010, heads into recruitment season this fall. They are hoping to recruit between 10 to 15 players. “We need new people to join our league,” Starck said.

The league’s sole team, Red Tide Warning, went co-ed last year and brought on younger players to deal with recruitment challenges, a common problem for leagues in rural regions.

But without a complete roster this year, they may be forced to travel to tournaments off Coast and collaborate with other teams again. “We’ve done that in the past, too, because there are several smaller leagues,” such as Nanaimo, Squamish and Powell River, who also experience dips in numbers, said Starck, who admitted growing the crop has “been challenging.”

The passion in the club is strong, though, and so is the enthusiasm from spectators, with at least 100 people attending bouts. “People love watching roller derby, even if they have no idea what’s going on,” Starck said.

“It’s not going anywhere, it’s just a little bit of a slow year.”

Derby, known for its competitive, contact play and showmanship, has steadily grown in popularity as a grassroots sport since the early 2000s and was under consideration to become an Olympic sport, though it has yet to be approved.

Costumes are encouraged for the heroes versus villains theme. Admission is $10 and skate rentals are $5. Those under 18 will need their parents or guardians to sign a waiver. Doors open from 3:30 until 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7. Buddies at the Bay will have a food concession, and the Rolla Skate Club will provide dance lessons.

For more information, contact the club at: scrg.ca@gmail.com or see www.sunshinecoastrollergirls.ca

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