FASHION FURIOUS: Styles & Fashion of Roller Derby words & artwork by Leon Chung

April 2022

Roller derby is a full contact sport in which two teams designate a jammer (wears a star on helmet) to score points by lapping members of the opposing team. One pivot (blocker that may convert into a Jammer mid-game) amongst four blockers on each team can defend against the opposing jammer while assisting their own jammer. Dani is a local business owner and derby player. Dani, Roller Derby players often have an alter ego for their on-court persona. Why do you think it’s important for a player to have this and how does it shape them? What does your own persona say about you?
The alter ego/derby names can be really empowering. Maybe you’re a quiet person, but on the track you’re loud and take up space. Roller Derby gives you the space to be whatever kind of player you want to be. For me, I worked in the dog care industry since I was 19; one day I had an incident at my workplace and ended up with dog bites on my leg. At the time I also had half blonde/half dark brown hair so it was perfect when a teammate suggested Cruella D Kill.
What would you say is the most important in terms of clothing, gear, and protection for competition and player position? Are there gears better suited for jammers, blockers, or pivots?
We all have our derby names and player numbers on the back of our jerseys, and only wear them for competition so it’s pretty special to haul it out on game day. Various players like myself have particular shorts we wear to the games. When it comes to the gear in regards to player positions, it depends more on that player’s style of play. As a jammer, I like protective gears to be slim but sturdy. Particularly my knee pads; they need to be sleek enough for me to do crossovers efficiently but supportive enough to handle the hard falls. There are some really popular brands often used by derby players such as 187 Killer Pads and Smith Scabs Safety Gear. S1 Helmets is a favourite choice for headgear. I always recommend Sisu brand mouth guards when looking for a mouth guard you can drink and speak with.
How or has competing in roller derby changed how you dress off court? Has participating in Roller Derby shaped your personal fashion and who you are?
Roller Derby has helped me find myself, especially in my early adult years. As a 19-year-old, I found a sense of community that supported me in a way I had never experienced before. That really allowed me to come out of my shell and be who I wanted to be, both as a person and in regards to how I dress. I definitely have more of a I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I like what I like attitude when it comes to clothing since joining derby.
Overall, what does roller derby mean to you and the local community?
My favourite thing is how it connected me with so many people from different walks of life [and] of all ages. My derby teammates are my family; they’ve been a wonderful support system for me both personally and my business. Throughout the pandemic they have came through for me, time and again.

Special thanks to Dani (aka Cruella D Kill) of Battery Skate Shop. Battery Skate Shop is a female-owned skate shop in St John’s, NL. It currently operates an online shop, offering free curb-side pickup, local delivery, and mailing options