Don't know what roller derby is? Fear not, we don't know much about it either but, by the sounds of things, we definitely should. Derived from rollerskating and first played competitively in the mid-1930s, roller derby is the world's fastest growing sport having undergone a worldwide revival in Austin, Texas in the early '00s.
Now one of the world's most popular all-female amateur sports, competitive roller derby is set to make its debut here in Shanghai with our own Shang-High Rollers taking on the Pan-Asian Spring Rollers (made up of players from Beijing, Bangkok and Hong Kong) on Saturday.
Judging by the team names, puns seem to be an important part of the sport, with many players skating under roller derby-related pseudonyms or 'derby names'. Some true gems from this online database
of registered names we found include Cra$h Money, 'Release the Kraken' Clattenburg, OMG WTF, Olivia Neutron Bomb and PG Trips.
To attempt to explain it in somewhat of a nutshell, roller derby is a contact sport contested between two opposing sides of up to 14 players (with five from each team taking part at a time) all skating in the same direction around a track. Bouts take place over two periods of 30 minutes with points being registered during 'two-minute jams'.
Points are scored by the jammer (traditionally a player with a star on their helmet) lapping members of the opposition. Other playing positions are blocker (plain helmet), whose job is to stop the opposing jammer from passing through the pack, and pivot (striped helmet), a blocker who is supposed to dictate strategy and can also become a jammer if the jammer's helmet cover is passed to them in a 'star pass'. You understand, right? There is also a referee, two jammer referees, and up to five 'pack referees' on the track during play, as well as ten non-skating officials all doing their best to bring this perceived chaos to order.
If you fancy checking out the sport for yourself, see the event listing below for full details of this weekend's historic roller derby match-up, which includes an after-party at Roxie