• Sweden edition
 
Swedish roller girls cruising for a bruising

Swedish roller girls cruising for a bruising

Published: 20 May 2011 09:45 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 May 2011 09:45 GMT+02:00

The threat of violence hangs menacingly in the air. Blood flows freely, wounds are attended to and physical injuries are shown off as badges of honour.

But this isn’t a football terrace or a smoky backroom mafia joint, it's an all-female roller derby match between Malmö’s Crime City Rollers in their first ever "bout", against their rivals from the capital, Stockholm Roller Derby.

Inspired by punk, rockabilly and burlesque, with a heavy dose of aggression thrown in for good measure, roller derby is a sport on the up.

“Like with all sports, to be good at it takes a lot of training, but you have to dare to take blows, know it is sometimes going to hurt, and be prepared to do the same to your opponents” says Emmelie Bogårdh or "Countess Blood" of Stockholm Roller Derby.

One of the fastest growing female sports, to the outsider it is a mix of skill, speed and aggression, a kind of Rocky Horror Picture show on wheels.

To those involved, it is more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle.

“First and foremost it’s fun. It’s full on, fast-paced and hard, but also not important to win at all costs. On top of that you get to meet loads of new friends and widen your social circle,” Bogårdh explains.

"Grrl power" may be the first impression you get but there is more to it than that – seldom these days do you see females actively involved in contact sports, while the proponents of the game point out that it gives them a chance to express themselves individually as well as enjoy the camaraderie of the team.

This is key, and image is everything. From the nicknames to the generously applied warpaint, these girls send out a tough streetwise message: "mess with us at your peril".

To the uninitiated, roller derby could equally be described as is a relay-race on roller skates, or all-female rugby without the ball.

This American-invented full contact sport, (with emphasis on the "contact"), is played around an oval track. Each team has 5 members - 1 Pivot, 3 Blockers and 1 Jammer. The aim is to get the Jammer past a member of the opposing team and hence gain points.

Originating in the United States in the 1930s, roller derby became a recognised sport during the sixties and has since spread rapidly, with leagues in Australia, Belgium, Canada (which will host the World Championships in December), Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and of course, Sweden which boasts teams from six cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Umeå, Luleå and Visby.

The girls all have their own suitably aggressive nicknames: Misty Muffdiver, Venomous Violet, Go Go Rillah, Cookie Hoe and Vix Viking leave little to the imagination or their motivation.

This is no place for shrinking violets.

The Stockholm side was formed in 2007 by Bogårdh, Nattis Mörkenstam, Linn Hultström, Jenny Stendahland, and Michel Diaz Nocetti and now has some 50 active members.

At first they practiced in a car park, but progress was slow and just when things were looking like never really taking off, along came Drew Barrymore to save the day.

In the actress’s 2009 directing debut "Whip It", she plays a misfit in Texas, who finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin.

This started the ball rolling so to speak, and thanks to the strong DIY ethic, the power of social networking and the spreading of Youtube clips, the sport has started to boom.

Last year over 200 players from all over the world gathered in London for an event, and there are now more than 23,000 registered participants globally.

Bogårdh says she is typical of the current generation of players.

Always active as a kid she lost enthusiasm for more traditional sports as a teenager, but found herself attracted to roller derby.

"I came along and felt this was right for me. Cool chicks and a great subculture, it suited me down to the ground," she explains.

As Bogårdh and her fellow roller girls prepare to lace up their skates for a home match against visiting German side Hamburg Harbor Girls on Saturday, May 21st, image and subculture will certainly be on display.

"There is no obligation to come up with your own name and image, but it is about 'going the whole way', and this is important," she says.

"You get to go on to the track as your alter ego and maybe that helps you be a bit more daring than you would normally be in life. I love this side of it, where you can be a little crazy and live out some of your hidden fantasies."

Stockholm Roller Derby takes on the Hamburg Harbor Girls on Saturday, May 21st at Visättrahallen in Huddinge, south of Stockholm. Doors open at 6pm and tickets range from 59 to 100 kronor. Check out the website below for more information.

Related links:

Geoff Mortimore (mortimore.geoff@gmail.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

08:57 May 21, 2011 by SimonDMontfort
Sweden is such a 'conformist' society that I suppose there has to be an outlet for aggression somewhere
11:52 May 21, 2011 by Marc the Texan
Ah yes, Misty Muffdiver and Cookie Hoe. You know how they roll.
18:04 May 21, 2011 by volvoman9
There is a roller derby team in Austin Texas named the Putas de Fuego ( Whores of Fire) Hilarious stuff indeed.
22:24 May 21, 2011 by MarkinBoston
Lesbians need exercise too.
23:18 May 21, 2011 by Frank Arbach
From my experience of being pushed, shoved out of the way,' cannoned' into, by people in Swedish cities like Stockholm, with no manners or civility at all, I would say there are many in training for this activity (Lol)
22:48 May 22, 2011 by Ivan Juric
There is also a Roller Derby sub culture here in Aus..
15:43 May 25, 2011 by jomamas
Those women are not very pretty.
09:25 May 26, 2011 by Stickeroo
The nicknames "leave little to the imagination or their motivation"?!?! I wonder what the motivation of "Misty Muffdiver" is...to shoulder check an opponent and fall face first into her crotch?
15:10 June 16, 2011 by immigrant-girl
"Aggressive" nicknames? Misty Muffdiver? lol
10:45 February 22, 2013 by kishember
Its also an example of cyclical social change. Originating in the US in the 1930s Depression of which the present recession is a modern version. Printing money, stagflation, the rise of Germany, the flapper, the Charleston, the Roaring Twenties. Check out the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy. Its an organisation on the internet for all to read.
Today's headlines
Boy receives cancer vaccine by mistake
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Boy receives cancer vaccine by mistake

A boy scheduled to be vaccinated against mumps, measles, and rubella instead received a vaccine against cervical cancer. His family has now reported the blunder for inspection. READ  

Sweden grants additional funds to jobs agency
Photo: Bertil Enevåg Ericson/TT

Sweden grants additional funds to jobs agency

The Swedish government has announced that it will increase funding to the jobs agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) in 2015, primarily to cover personnel costs but also to prevent long-term unemployment. READ  

Police 'powerless' against street racers
Police on E4 highway. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police 'powerless' against street racers

Stockholm police said they were powerless to react when streetracers took over at "insane speeds" on a large highway on Friday night. READ  

Saab carmaker wins receivership
Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Saab carmaker wins receivership

After initial rejection, a Chinese-owned company set up to take over Saab's assets after the troubled Swedish carmaker's bankruptcy said on Friday it had succeeded in being placed in receivership. READ  

Woman suffers cardiac arrest while giving birth
Photo: Tomas Oneborg/TT

Woman suffers cardiac arrest while giving birth

A 30-year-old woman went into cardiac arrest while giving birth at a Stockholm clinic - without hospital staff noticing that anything was wrong. She remains in a critical condition on Friday. READ  

Champions League
History repeats for Malmö fifty years later
Striker Magnus Eriksson during Malmö's 3-0 win over Salzburg in a Champions League qualifier. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

History repeats for Malmö fifty years later

Malmö's entry into the Champions League serves as a reminder of times gone by in European football. With Spain's champions bound for Sweden things just couldn't be better, writes contributor Lee Roden. READ  

Elections 2014
Löfven promises jobs to 50,000 young Swedes
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Löfven promises jobs to 50,000 young Swedes

Social Democrat party leader Stefan Löfven announced on Friday his "most important election promise", a 90-day job guarantee programme for young Swedes. READ  

 Sweden to buy fighter jets despite Swiss pullout
The Jas Gripen fighter aircraft. File photo: Wikimedia

Sweden to buy fighter jets despite Swiss pullout

Sweden said Friday it would go ahead with the purchase of a new generation of Saab Gripen fighter jets, despite Switzerland pulling out of a major co-financing deal. READ  

Three hurt after northern knife attack

Three hurt after northern knife attack

Three people are in hospital after they were stabbed during what police suspect was a gang-related attack in Umeå. READ  

Stockholm 'thief' turns out to be trainee ninja

Stockholm 'thief' turns out to be trainee ninja

Stockholm police rushed to the scene when a worried Swede reported that their neighbours were the victim of a break-in - but when officers arrived, they found nothing but a ninja in the middle of practice. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching August 27
Gallery
Top ten false friends in Swedish
National
Roma advocate scoops Wallenberg prize
Society
Meet the man who made a Swedish store recall its high heels for kids
Business & Money
'How I came to run my own business in Sweden'
Blog updates

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 

25 August

The Dollar Store (Blogweiser) »

"A dollar store in Sweden. Blog post: http://t.co/tNuuvcP1q0 #USD #greenbacks #sweden #sverige pic.twitter.com/RHFAYf7U1k — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) August 23, 2014 There’s a chain here in Sweden called The DollarStore. This name always stood out to me in a country where they don’t use dollars. I went there for the first time this weekend. They actually accepted greenbacks..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
Expert explains why Sweden's election oozes uncertainty
National
City plays Schindler's List theme at Nazi rally
Society
For Stockholm Fashion Week, here's the A-Z of Swedish fashion
National
'Amnesiac' man avoids deportation for ten years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Business & Money
Swedish city all set for six-hour workday trial
Business & Money
Five golden rules for the Swedish job hunt
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Gallery
People-watching August 22-24
National
Armed royal guards caught (very) drunk on the job
National
Sweden orders textbook on Roma discrimination
Gallery
Violent anti-Nazi demonstrations in Malmö
Society
A closer look at Sweden's five official minority languages
Gallery
See the destruction from the southern Sweden floods
Politics
'Sweden Democrats hold the key to elections'
Society
Swedes celebrate first day of smelly fish season
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching August 20th
Society
Did you know the Bronx in NYC was named after a Swede?
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

759
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se