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8 min

Montreal Roller Derby League: The girls got game

Special exhibition bout on Sat, Nov 21

Credit: Susan Moss photo

Despite the fact that roller derby’s inevitable and celebrated smash-ups have left her with a few dislocated ribs, Ewan Wotarmy, Captain of the Contrabanditas, calls Montreal’s league “a beautiful, fun-filled community.”

Made up of four home teams and two travel teams, rolling as far as California, Tennessee and British Columbia, the league thrills its fans with high-octane games. The regular April to August season just can’t quench their thirst for the sport Ewan describes as “rugby meets hockey, meets burlesque,” so the league’s whipping up a special exhibition bout on Sat, Nov 21.

Xtra.ca caught up with small and scrappy Ewan Wotarmy (a play on “You and what army?”) to talk bouts, bluster, and bruises.

Xtra.ca: How did it go this year?

Wotarmy: It was a great year! We brought it to a new level. The home team final between Les Filles du Roi and La Racaille was an incredibly close and intense game. Les Filles du Roi won – 100 to 97.

Xtra.ca: Montreal Roller Derby League became the first non-US Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) member league last year. What does that mean for Montreal and for derby?

Wotarmy: We are part of a huge network of very competitive teams, and we can now be ranked against them. This means that we can now compete to aim for regional and nationals. What the WFTDA gains is a crazy group of French Canadians who play somewhat differently than the Americans, and win all the after parties. We were invited to Nationals to do a dance routine, strangely enough. We’ve been the league darlings for a while, as we remind people to have a good time despite the competition. A quote from the announcers on DNN this weekend as we did the performance was, “If you don’t love Montreal, you don’t have a soul.” We are kind of goodwill ambassadors for the city.

Xtra.ca: Going to bouts is a classic lesbian date. Why is Roller Derby so loved by queers?

Wotarmy: Hot athletic women in booty shorts! Seriously, Roller Derby is the only sport I know that can successfully balance camp and sport in a way that doesn’t detract from the sport, but instead compliments it. It’s the only contact team sport that is pretty much exclusively female. It’s not the little sister of a male sport, like women’s hockey or soccer. So, Roller Derby really is all about women. And I also think because there is some kind of critical mass of dykes in our league, so you know, word gets out through friends and family and it becomes the place to “be seen” as a lesbian.

But we have all kinds that come out to the games. We have the rockabilly crowd that seems to always make an appearance. Hipsters, lots of hipsters, families with young kids and, well, anyone else who likes a good time, including a large gay male crowd. There are hundreds of people at our bouts. I like to call our bouts the “pre-party” for just about anything in the summer. We have cheap beer, a diverse crowd of people, an awesome show and a fun group of women organizing the whole thing. Unrivaled fun, guaranteed.

Xtra.ca: Have any of the girls had to seek medical attention for injuries received on the track?

Wotarmy: Yes. One girl broke her leg last year. There have been a few knee and shoulder injuries. One girl landed on her skate via her vagina. There were photos circulated. It wasn’t pretty.

Xtra.ca: Why should someone who’s never seen a bout come out to the Expo?

Wotarmy: It might be your only chance to see us until the Beast of the East tournament in April. Also, in honor of a special guest derby girl for this bout only, Lester B Fearsome (aka Rick Mercer), we’ve cobbled together two new teams for the fun bout: The Block QuebecQuad and the Mean Party. So, even for people who’ve been to many bouts, it’ll be a new experience.

The Exhibition Bout kicks off at 8pm on Sat, Nov 21. Doors at 7:30, at the Taz, 8931 Papineau. $10.
See the derby’s dance number here. Email recruitment@mtlrd.com for details on how to join the league.