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Down and Derby: The Insider's Guide to Roller Derby
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Down and Derby: The Insider's Guide to Roller Derby

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3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  321 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews

When most Americans hear the words roller derby” today, they think of the kitschy sport once popular on weekend television during the seventies and eighties. Originally an endurance competition where skaters traveled the equivalent of a trip between Los Angeles and New York, derby gradually evolved into a violent contact sport often involving fake fighting. But after nearl

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Paperback, 261 pages
Published July 13th 2010 by Soft Skull Press (first published June 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rose
Jul 25, 2011 Rose rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
If you're new to derby, this is a great book to read because it outlines everything from the history of the sport to the details of its modern revival, to roller derby as it is portrayed in pop culture. It also gives useful tips and advice for fresh meat skaters. And even if you don't plan on becoming a derby girl, there's tons of information on other ways you can get involved in the scene (reffing, becoming a non-skating official, commentating, or just being a fan). This book was actually prett ...more
Samantha Brandt
May 02, 2011 Samantha Brandt rated it it was amazing
Love, love, loved this book! Ok, I'm a little biased since I play roller derby, but this book really breaks it down for you, better than "Rollergirl". It covers all the bases in derby, and even has coaching advice. It covers derby from the very beginning until now. Would recommend this book first and foremost to those interested in derby.
Aliesha
Jan 28, 2017 Aliesha rated it liked it
Shelves: read-harder-2017
Now dated due to the changes to derby rules, but a fun intro to the sport.
Timothy
Nov 15, 2013 Timothy rated it really liked it
Along with Frank Deford's Five Strides On The Banked Track: The Life And Times Of The Roller Derby, this is required reading for any aficionado of roller derby whether they be skater, fan, or any level of participant in between. Beginning with a solid snapshot of the historical version of the sport; this is a smartly written, in-depth history of the dawn days of the modern derby revival. While I long for a fully comprehensive history of this unique American institution—one that includes all comp ...more
Terri
Sep 17, 2012 Terri rated it liked it
Maybe I was at the wrong stage in my derby career when I read this because it was fun and fluffy for me and the only thing that really held my interest for too long was the bios. But I think if you are considering joining derby or just signed up as freshmeat this is a must read! I purchased it thinking I would get some info on the management of a successful league but mostly it focused on the individual and decisions to join, etc. So although it didn't contain the info I was looking for I still ...more
Lani
Mar 29, 2013 Lani rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, non-fiction, signed
I got this a few years ago at a tournament and read it then. I'm not sure what made me pick it up to re-read it this time.

The book certainly suffers a bit from roller derby's rapidly changing rule structure and culture shifts. However the authors do a decent job of talking in general terms that apply to a variety of leagues and approaches to the sport.

It's a decent book with an 'intro to the derby culture' approach. It doesn't get too bogged down in rules and speaks more to the history of the s
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Maishaparadox
May 06, 2016 Maishaparadox rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
The first half of this book was a pretty comprehensive history of roller derby (in its many iterations, including modern roller derby, both banked track and flat track), which I really enjoyed. However, the sport of modern roller derby has changed so much in such a short amount of time that the book, published in 2010, is already pretty out of date in terms of current rules, game play, and to some degree, derby culture. I also cringed every time the authors used cissexist assumptions and general ...more
Sonja
Sep 25, 2010 Sonja rated it liked it
Occasionally, when I'm feeling particularly brave and especially brash, I fancy joining a roller derby.

Reading the book - particularly the portions about the injuries one can sustain - hasn't really deterred me that much. It's like - a sort of desire that I'd actually go for if I wasn't such a pussy or something a Me from a parallel dimension would totally do.

Still, I'm pretty sure that once I move to a town with a roller rink, I'll pick up roller skating again. I've always liked it - lack of
...more
Ashley
Feb 02, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing
I think Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney worded it best, "Part mianifesto, part how-to-guide...". I loved reading this book, it was like cliff notes stereo instructions for Derby. There are many reasons I would never try it, but being a really good skater I would probably be more prone to be a helper-outer of some kind. Readint "Down and Derby..." confirmed what I originally thought, though... there is no one wheel and one wheel out approach, it's all or nothing. Derby will be your life if yo ...more
Steven Gaskin
Mar 21, 2011 Steven Gaskin rated it really liked it
I think you need to time the reading of this book to get the most out of it, finding the right point in your Derby education to open yourself up to the background. I loved reading about the history of the sport, including the beginning of the current renaissance, but I think I've been involved in the sport too long now to take much away from the rest of the book, specifically the more reference-based sections describing the rules and intricacies of the sport. The background material is fun, and ...more
Jamie
Jun 12, 2013 Jamie rated it it was ok
Fact based expose about female roller derby, working through its history, how to play, and a bit about the players. The interviews are mostly with 1990-2010 roller derby participants. A book directed towards those interested in playing roller derby.

Roller derby once attracted up to 50,000 spectators a game. Today, 1000 might be the norm. Women's leagues are gaining traction around the US and a few other countries; men's leagues have not caught on.

Me, I'll pay to take in a roller derby game to
...more
Cyrano
Sep 12, 2015 Cyrano rated it really liked it
There is some overlap between this and "RollerGirl", the other derby book I read last month, but not a great deal. RG is very Texas-centered, a more personal view of things. Our two authors came up with the L.A. Derby Dolls, and in addition this book is more of a wide angle book, tracking the rise of derby in general. Generally, I liked the parts when they were spreading out facts and information rather than the story parts which felt a bit awkward. There are plenty of two and three page intervi ...more
Gen
Dec 28, 2015 Gen rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book and would probably have memorized it cover to cover in my fresh meat days. I'm probably a bit beyond it's target audience now (I received it as a gift from a relative) but I still liked it a lot. I found the sections on derby history and derby in pop culture particularly interesting. My only real criticism is that the rules set referred to is quite out of date now (two whistle starts, 1 minute penalties). I'd still recommend it to people who are looking at joining roll ...more
hey.emily
Anyone who is interested in roller derby should read this, first and foremost, before anything else. The authors provide a really concise, clear history of the sport, along with what being a skater is like, and also some tips for those who "can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!", like refs, NSOs, and fans. Interspersed with skater and support staff interviews, q&as, and has a great appendix of derby throughout film and television. Definitely worth a read!
Jill
Jul 12, 2010 Jill rated it really liked it
Very good overview about roller derby. I like that it covers the history of derby up to it's modern day grass roots resurgence. I've been skating with my local team for about 8 months and have so much respect for every woman that gets out there and does this. My team has trained me and given me so much encouragement to do things I never thought I could do. It is tough but the rewards are worth it. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about this awesome sport!
Christina
Jan 02, 2014 Christina rated it really liked it
Fun, informative, and surprisingly comprehensive (for only 260 pages). The writing seemed uneven (perhaps a result of having two authors) and could have used better proofing. Depending on my mood, I either liked or rolled my eyes at the chatty, perky tone. But overall I really enjoyed it and learned a bunch about derby.

I have a review going up on my league's blog in a few weeks. I'll try to remember to link up here when it posts.
Jeff
Nov 11, 2011 Jeff rated it really liked it
This is a great introduction to the modern sport of roller derby. The authors include information on the history of the sport, a review of the current ruleset, capsule reviews of roller derby in film and television, and a whole lot more. Best of all are the numerous sidebars profiling a whole range of participants. The writing style is breezy and fun, but there's still a lot of meat on these bones - definitely a worthwhile read for either the diehard fan or the merely curious.
Linda
Aug 21, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing
This was a great book. Nice mix of history with what's currently going on with the sport. Gave profiles of current and past skaters with lots of pics. Even gave info about movies and TV shows featuring Derby-who knew The Addams Family cartoon had a Derby episode! My only complaint was with the text used for the pics(gang style grafetti-super hard to read no matter how cool it looks)
Kimberly
Dec 25, 2011 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I have been a fan of roller derby since 2007. I have loved the sport and have wanted to become a derby girl, but things never worked out. I bought this book it help me see if roller derby is something I could do and give me some tip on the sport. I loved the book and enjoyed some of the interviews in the book.
Kristen
Sep 08, 2010 Kristen rated it liked it
I read this book because some friends and I are interested in trying out for our local roller derby league and I wanted to learn more about it. It was a decent quick read. It provided a good overall history of roller derby with some nice profiles of current players. An easy, fluff read if you are at all interested in roller derby.
Speeda
Jul 19, 2012 Speeda rated it really liked it
A solid primer on derby basics -- can still learn plenty (especially about history of the sport) though the intended audience seems to be someone who is contemplating joining a league rather than someone who already plays. Seems to devote more print to the kitschy side of modern derby than the more athletic camp. Would have liked to see a chapter explicitly about strategy, with diagrams.
Chavonne
May 17, 2015 Chavonne rated it really liked it
This was such a fun read, both about the history and the mechanics of a sport I recently discovered and am falling for. I also really loved the player bios. This was funny and informative and passionate.
Aslin
Sep 09, 2010 Aslin rated it really liked it
I bought this Shortney after rollercon 2010 and couldn't put it down. I absolutely loved the "derby in a nutshell" idea. Though it almost seemed more like it was meant for people completely new to Roller Derby! I would've enjoyed more detail.
Elly
Feb 27, 2012 Elly rated it it was amazing
My favourite roller derby book I've read! Very accurate and non-biased depiction of how the sport started and the history behind it, as well as details about its progression. Some of it is out of date now but it's still good to read about.
Kait
Aug 18, 2013 Kait rated it liked it
Another fun book about derby that looks into all aspects of the sport. This one is a bit outdated on some portions of the rules (book was published 2010 and there was a major rules change January 2013) but otherwise not a bad introduction to derby.
Carly
I couldn't put this book down, it is an essential for every derby girl and for every girl who wants to be a derby girl (like myself). It made me want to push myself even more when I'm on the rink practicing.
socerangel86
Apr 25, 2013 socerangel86 rated it liked it
Good history of roller derby. Brought up a lot of aspects I hadn't thought of. But, because I have already joined a team, I knew a lot of the information. It got a little long towards the end. I like the way the book was structured.
Kim (gtkim)
Aug 17, 2010 Kim (gtkim) rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
3.5 stars. A quick and interesting read about the history of roller derby, complete with a breakdown of positions and rules and some player profiles too. Recommended for anyone who wants to know more about the sport.
Eva
Dec 19, 2013 Eva rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for individuals that are looking for Roller Derby 101. You'll get a handle in its history, how the game is played and even a check list for gear. It was an easy read and entertaining! Enjoy!!
Deni
Sep 10, 2010 Deni rated it really liked it
A very good overview of the history, rules and culture of the sport with an emphasis on helping the reader decide if roller derby is right for them. There is even a section on how to win the after party.
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“YOU’VE GOT TO KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM... KNO W WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM” 0 likes
“is July 2009. We step off our respective planes and lug our gear into the sweltering Vegas sun. Our taxis creep through downtown tourist traffic, swing around the airport, and unceremoniously drop us off in a giant, industrial-looking parking lot. The Las Vegas Sports Center sulks unimpressively in the heat, but under the sounds of arriving planes, there’s also a low hum and periodic whistles. Inside, the air is cooler and smells vaguely of . . . what is that smell? Sweat? Feet? Happiness? And when our eyes adjust to the light, we see skaters from every corner of the world—their helmets whiz by in every direction looking as if they are floating on air. On their feet are skates—black skates, white skates, blue skates, camouflage skates—propelled by a rainbow of wheels. On the sport floor, coaches with names like Carmen Getsome and Miss Fortune are drilling a centipede line of skaters in the fine art of knocking each other’s asses to the ground. Refs and skaters gear up for the mixed league, multination, battle du jour: Team Australia vs. Team Canada. Someone hobbles by with an ice pack strapped to her knee, still smiling. We smile too. Across town, nearly one thousand other skaters throng the casino and head to seminars in the meeting halls of the Imperial Palace Hotel, with nothing but roller derby on their minds. This is the fifth annual derby convention known as RollerCon.” 0 likes
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