Pixel Tracker

Sunday, November 18 , 2018, 8:47 am | Fog/Mist 52º

 
 
 
 

Roller Derby Elbows Its Way into Santa Barbara

The Brawlin' Betties get down and derby in a retro rumble on wheels

If you haven’t heard anything about roller derby since the 1970s, brace yourself.

As dozens of women — dolled up in makeup, fishnets and skates — appeared in front of several hundred spectators, thunderous applause ensued, meaning only one thing:

Roller derby is back in Santa Barbara, in a big, big way.

Santa Barbara’s first all-female, flat track roller derby team, the Brawlin’ Betties, proved its prowess Saturday at Earl Warren Showgrounds. The underdogs had been training almost four months for their match against a well-established squad from Ventura, the Derby Darlins’. The recession-priced $5 admission and strong word of mouth attracted hundreds of local fans, including retro rockers, bikers, friends and families, as diverse as the colorful characters on the team.

Anyone who’s watched any amount of roller derby knows the value of a good name. The Betties had to face Ventura players with such formidable names like “Vesuvius” and “Cloberella.” But in the end, the Betties were not to be reckoned with and eventually won their match against the Darlins’, 80-69.

Roller derby was forged in the Depression era, as a form of cheap entertainment, and peaked in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s as a nationally televised sport. After the din of Saturday’s match died down, several of the Betties gave some insight into why it seems to be catching on Santa Barbara.

One of the Bettie’s coaches, who goes by Dita de los Muertos, has been playing for three years but started the team about four months ago. She said she feel as if the group’s growing popularity can be attributed to the fact that it gives women a chance to be more aggressive than they’d be able to be in other sports.

“A lot of these girls couldn’t play soccer because they got too many red cards,” she said.

“There’s not a lot of female, full-contact sports,” she said. “It’s like football for women. They can get out there and be as aggressive as they want to be.”

She said prior experience is not required. Newbies are paired up with established players, who can show them the ropes until they’re ready to join the team on the track in practice.  Anyone wanting to get involved should e-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The team practices at Earl Warren twice a week. Its next tournament is Aug. 15 in Visalia.

One of the players, who goes by the name Stella, says she started skating with the girls at the end of February, but didn’t have any experience before joining the team.

“It’s the best group of girls ever,” she said. The sport’s aggression and the camaraderie of the women are the reasons she participates.

“There’s a certain type of girl that you think about when you think of Santa Barbara, so it’s cool to find some girls that you have something in common with,” she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). This story includes reports from Noozhawk contributor L. Paul Mann.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.