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July 29, 2011

A Fan’s Visit to RollerCon – Part 1

It’s Thursday night, I have 1 1/2 days of RollerCon in Las Vegas behind me and I thought: time to write down some notes. First let me state the RollerCon is primarily (but not solely) aimed at skaters and people directly involved with the sport of Roller Derby. I have seen very few people who are “just” fans, so naturally RollerCon and most of the events are not targeted at them.

Having said that, there is plenty of stuff for even just us fans or people that are not actively involved with Roller Derby:

  • tons of bouts (ranging from lopsided blow-outs to highly competitive close fights)
  • about 90 seminars (I would say around 50 of them of interest to the fan, unless you want to become an announcer or referee)
  • close to a dozen parties, including the famous Black’n’Blue Ball, pool parties and more

So, tons of stuff to do, and it all started Wednesday morning with the check-in. The location of RollerCon was the Riviera, one of the older casino hotels in Las Vegas. I was there 4 years ago for CGE 2K7 and what seemed worn then looked pretty darn old now in 2011. To be fair the Riviera is famously inexpensive, has a decent pool, fantastic convention facilities (not like Cesar’s Palace but still very good) and there was construction going on all over the place – so things are looking up. I stayed in one of the newer rooms for a night which wasn’t bad. Well, except for the girls next door who saturated the hallway with weed smoke, but nothing a wet towel roll under the door couldn’t fix.

longline Long but well-managed lines at the RollerCon check-in

Early check-in at the Riviera was an extra $20 and then I got in line for the check-in at RollerCon. Although the lines were super long they moved quickly and within 45 mins I had my pass. Off to the first seminar about video production and bout casting “RC Videography Summit” with Aaron Johnston (www.amjpro.com) and Chris Seale (Hurt Reynolds from www.derbynewsnetwork.com). Aaron was sharing his experience with video production, mostly for highlight reels etc., Chris was all about bout casting roller derby on DNN. They had a wealth of information, the best advice came from Aaron on how to capture announcer audio without having to run lots of wires: attach a lav microphone close to a speaker and mix that wireless audio into your video. The onboard audio from the video camera will pick up more ambient noise which will give you multiple audio tracks with different content. The small group ran out of time and agreed to meet again on Thursday morning.

vidguys Aaron Johnston and Hurt Reynolds from the RC Videography Summit

At 3 in the afternoon I went to the Queen Victoria pub for the RollerCon welcome reception and that thing was a total bust. Only a few people showed up and the whole event was not worth the $30 it cost. I ended up at the bar and talked quite a bit with Blue Brawlz from the Richland County Regulators and DoliDerringer from the Columbia Quadsquad Rollergirls. These guys were super nice and that ended up saving the otherwise lame welcome reception. In the end I think meeting active Roller Girls and Roller Guys from far away is one of the great opportunities at RollerCon. If you are a guy interested in playing Roller Derby in Richland County or surroundings then look up Blue Brawlz and get in contact, he is forming a men’s team.

bawlzdolly Blue Brawlz and Doli Derringer at the welcome reception

The next session was about “The Business Of Derby” but there was no speaker. It quickly turned into a roundtable with people discussing topics as diverse as rule books (WFTDA or OSDA), advertising and promotion and what legal structures to use in your derby business: profit on non-profit, if non-profit then charity or non-charity etc. – and all of this is different from country to country and in the US from state to state. One of the original “She-E-Os” April Ritzenthaler was there and she had lots of good advice. Overall a very fruitful if somewhat unstructured discussion, could have easily gone for another two hours.

Roundtable at RollerConRoundtable at RollerCon, 3rd from right: April Ritzenthaler

Betweens seminars I checked out some bouts and the vendor halls, the variety of stuff is just unbelievable. I also kept running into a few familiar faces from Seattle: various skaters and non-skaters and Eric Carlson the super-fan from the Rollergirl Appreciation Society.

Wednesday night I missed the Vagine Regime pants-off dance-off but I was told by the Queen Victoria folks that it was quite a party, ok, I’ll have to check that out next year and bring some really funny underwear.