Tubesock’s Funhouse! It’s not every day you get to participate in an event with you as the namesake, but if you come up with a crazy idea one of the perks is getting to name it. What started as a vision in my mind turned into a reality thanks to a group skaters, NSO’s, refs, and spectators who threw good sense out the window and agreed to take part in something truly unique and one of a kind, and for that I will always be grateful.
So let’s start at the beginning, how did the thoughts of clowns on skates, a midway, and the popping of balloons work its way into a roller derby event? A couple years ago, as with most great ideas, a conversation started in the pub. We were talking about the Christmas Sur5ival event we had recently attended, and how it was an awesome idea to include an extra skater (the Grinch) on the track to spice up the jams. Of course our conversation soon progressed to adding an extra team, or obstacles, or anything that could make things interesting. Eventually we started talking about something else, but the idea of doing something crazy got stuck in my head and it would be something I would flesh out over the next couple of years.
I feel that idea, of hosting a crazy event stuck with me due to a subconscious pushback against the normalization and increasing competitiveness of roller derby. Before everyone gets up in arms, I want to say these are not bad things. Roller derby is one of the best communities out there and if the rest of the world would take some lessons from us, it would be a much nicer place to live. But I feel that what made roller derby such a unique and niche sport was starting to get lost in the quest for legitimacy and rankings. The kitsch, homemade uniforms, and rebellious streak that initially attracted a lot of us to the sport was taking a back seat to serious competition, sublimated matching uniforms, and various regulating organizations. But as in life, sometimes you need to take a step back, act silly, and remember we do things because we love to do them and they bring us joy.
Fast forward to last Saturday, and what was just a thought in my mind had become a reality. Balloons, bunting, and the bar were in place. The midway was staged with various games of chance, and hell, even the track was flipped so all the action was front and center. Then I started to see people walk in. Clowns with creepy face-paint, check. NSOs and refs in various states of fancy dress, check. Showgirls ready to take their place on the midway, check. Ringmaster with accompanying whip, check. It was awesome sight, a dream brought to life!
Once the action started, everything I had hoped would work out, did. The game managers worked their magic ensuring our skaters were ready to tackle the next crazy challenge. The refs and NSOs were super chill and were not above joining in on the fun. And the skaters, god bless the skaters.
Hey you skater person, tell me if this sounds like fun:
- Skate against other the team and a group of clowns in a game of King of the Track.
- Run an entire jam going the opposite direction.
- Let’s have four jammers on the track at the same time!
- There’s an obstacle course with some non-standard challenges.
- Hump your way to victory in a relay race.
- Do you like dancing? No? well you get to do it in front of everyone.
That’s what the skaters had to deal with, along with a very warm arena with a very slick floor. But they did it, they did it smiling, and accepted every crazy game for what it was! Tubesock Kart turned into a whirling dance of skaters trying to avoid each other’s hits on their balloons. Tubesock’s Most Extreme Elimination Challenge became a showcase of ring tossing and cup stacking prowess. Get These Clowns Outta Here turned into a deadly game of chicken at high speed, and Who Are These Clowns saw my giant, sweaty, sad clown ass jam for two minutes, regretting about minute and a half of it. It was an awesome day with tons of smiles, and even with all these shenanigans, we still had an extremely competitive game of derby that was not decided until the very last round!
At the after party, everyone was buzzing (and bouncing or beer ponging), and remarking how ridiculous some of the games were. Which is exactly what I wanted, a crazy afternoon where the only thing that mattered was the pursuit of happiness just for the sake of it. Tubesock’s Funhouse was a success!
This will most likely be my last skating event before I head back to the states, and I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had since hooking up with Suffolk Roller Derby. As I’m closing out my final weeks with the league, it is becoming more evident that these last four years will be a unique time in my life. It will be really hard to recreate the situation I found myself with SRD. I had a job that was not labor intensive, allowing me to concentrate a lot on derby. There was a budding league in need of a coach and they gave me a chance. And there was a glut of roller derby within a very short distance of each other. It was a perfect storm of awesomeness that has enriched my life with people and experiences I’ll never forget. I’m sad to be leaving, but that’s life and that’s roller derby. People come and go, leagues grow and shrink, and we all carry on because we have to. But every once in a while, we get a chance to do things just for the joy of them. Cherish those moments, as I will cherish my time here in the UK.
SRD it was an honor to be your teammate, coach and a member of your family.
Who are we?
-Tubesock Shakur #32