Story last updated at 7/4/2012 - 1:42 pm
What do you get when a bunch of empowered women, comfortable knocking each other over at speed and have them throw a party to celebrate their first two years as the Juneau Roller Girls? If you're Rotaract, KXLL, and Night Moods, you pitch in and make it a dress-up booty-shaking celebration of strength, courage, and down-and-dirty fun. Roller Prom, beyond an excuse to wear your best leopard-print body suit, was a Jungle themed Adult Prom that alternately bumped, slithered, and grooved a truly eclectically-garbed populace through the night.
As the third iteration of Adult Prom to be put on by Rotaract and KXLL, there was no doubt beforehand that the event would not be one to be missed, even if your only suits are of the Carhartt and birthday variety. Adding the attitude and energy of the Juneau Roller Girls - fresh off a phenomenally close bout against the Fairbanks Roller Girls Raven Rebels and the Season Finale "Brawl in the Family" - only stepped up the Adult Prom game. The athleticism, determination, and drive that the women of JRG have shown over the last two years brought a level of no-holds-barred celebration to the jungle-themed party.
The B-Team All Stars took the stage late due to some technical malfunctions, but quickly riled the crowd to a herd of animalistic dervishes - although they play separately as Playboy Spaceman and Tiger Pilot, this was a unique opportunity to see these two talented groups perform together. The avant-garde auditory machinations that the B-Team All Stars unleash on their audience seems to feed on the life dancing before them, allowing them to pull sound into unique forms, that in turn made the crowd dance with wilder abandon. KXLL's In Dekline (a.k.a. Andy Kline) kept the dance floor hopping with a mix of '80s dance classics and more recent hits that qualify as booty-shake-inducing. All told, there was a little something to get any human butt moving. The ladies of the JRG also put on a dance performance with lessons in derby rules and penalties early in the night, but unless you had ring-side seats to any of this season's bouts, you still would have been missing out on the excitement that is women's flat track roller derby. But don't worry, the girls are still practicing, and will be back on their skates bouting in the 2012-13 season.
The skaters and refs involved in roller derby risk life and limb to bring this sport to Juneau, and the sold-out crowds at Centennial Hall have brought a huge amount of enthusiasm for the game, even when they don't have a clue what's happening on the track. I suppose that there is just something about strong women having fun, skating fast, and knocking each other over while wearing booty shorts that just gets a crowd going like curling never will. It is also a testament to our community's support for what is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country that the Juneau Roller Girls have sold out every one of their local bouts. We found the venues in Anchorage and Fairbanks strangely empty this spring, with vacant seats abounding and crowds that reacted more strongly to an offer of a free t-shirt than to a power jam or massive pile-up on the track. In Dekline has announced play-by-play action for the 360¿ North and KXLL broadcasts of two JRG bouts - a first-in-the-world alignment of public radio, TV, and roller derby - and this has allowed roller derby to reach an Alaskan and even world-wide audience, which may explain why the excitement about Juneau roller derby is bigger than any facility in town.
Rotaract and its members have teamed up with KXLL on both of the previous Adult Proms, noting that KXLL is actively involved in and supportive of a wide variety of events in the community; JRG, like KXLL and Rotaract, has a strong connection to our community and a proven record of supporting local non-profits. Of course, as a relatively high-profile event that attracts both attendees and attention from the community at large, some of the wilder happenings at the event may not be exactly what the organizers had in mind - when I asked Rotaract members if they had learned any lessons from past events, I was told that they want "to keep the festivities at the festival and preferably, not in the newspaper. Some pictures aren't meant to be news." With Night Moods an event sponsor, Juneau Roller Girls the main attraction, jungle-themed decorations and attendees "encouraged to come fully dressed in the animal print, flora and fauna that reminds us of the deep green jungle," this year's Adult Prom certainly passed as local color, but managed to stay off the front page of the Juneau Empire (that was a real black bear, not an Adult Prom attendee on the cover last week).
For more information on Juneau Roller Girls, visit www.juneaurollergirls.com, where you can find information on upcoming intro to skating classes, practice schedules, and other information on women's flat track roller derby. They're recruiting for fresh meat (new skaters) now, so join the women of the JRG, get those skates and pads on, and prepare for an athletic experience that's so wild you'll swear you're still in the jungle.