• 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)

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
Opinion
'Why were we kept in the dark for years?'
The submarine hunt is now in it's sixth day. Photo: TT

'Why were we kept in the dark for years?'

Military expert Johanne Hildebrandt tells The Local that the biggest question in the Stockholm submarine hunt hasn't been answered yet - why don't we know more about the "other operations" from the last few years? READ  

The Local List
Eight things to love about renting in Sweden
Apartments in Sweden are compact. Photo: Shutterstock

Eight things to love about renting in Sweden

A housing crisis means that short-term sublets are the norm in major cities and rent regulation rules are frequently flouted. But this week, The Local's decided to look on the bright side of renting an apartment in Sweden. READ  

Business & Money
Nordea banks big third-quarter profit gain
Nordea's Chief Executive Christian Clausen. Photo: TT

Nordea banks big third-quarter profit gain

Swedish bank Nordea announced on Wednesday a sharp rise in third quarter profits despite the economic slowdown and major outlays for an IT overhaul. READ  

National
Knutby priest faces early release from prison
Knutby in eastern Sweden, the scene of the murder. Photo: TT

Knutby priest faces early release from prison

A former priest in eastern Sweden who was sentenced to life in prison for organizing the murder of his wife has had his sentence reduced. READ  

Opinion
'Sweden will see Russia as a threat again'

'Sweden will see Russia as a threat again'

The Local speaks to one of Europe's leading security experts about why social media meant the Swedish military couldn't keep their 'submarine' search a secret and how she believes the country will ramp up its security against Russia. READ  

Interview
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
Comedian Al Pitcher has launched his new tour. Photo: www.alpitcher.com

'Swedes are funnier than they think'

New Zealand-born Al Pitcher launched his new comedy show in Stockholm this week. There wasn't a dull moment as The Local phoned up the man who has become one of Sweden's hottest comedians, while he took an eventful stroll in the capital. READ  

National
Stockholm suicide bomb investigation closes
The suicide bombing took place in 2010. Photo: TT

Stockholm suicide bomb investigation closes

Sweden's Security Service (Säpo) has announced that it will stop its core investigation into a suicide bombing in Stockholm four years ago. READ  

Stockholm 'sub hunt'
Military heads into 'new phase' in sub search
The search for the missing 'submarine' is now in its sixth day. Photo: TT

Military heads into 'new phase' in sub search

A press conference on the search for a suspected foreign vessel in Swedish waters revealed that the Armed Forces would be heading into a "new phase" on Wednesday, although it remained unclear what that might involve. READ  

Lifestyle
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
The bronze replica cannon. Photo: Beth Dacey.

Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden

A replica of one of the cannons present on Stockholm's iconic Vasa warship when it sank in 1628 is being tested for the first time in central Sweden. READ  

Health
Swedish farmers contracted swine flu
Swine flu can spread between pigs and humans. Photo: TT

Swedish farmers contracted swine flu

A human strain of the swine flu virus normally only found in pigs was discovered in Sweden earlier this year, the country's Public Health Agency has revealed. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Get 20% off unique Swedish homeware
Blog updates

21 October

Denna & den här (The Swedish Teacher) »

"?Denna? or ?den hr?? Swedish language students often ask question about different pronouns. One pronoun that especially..." READ »

 

19 October

Getting it (Blogweiser) »

"Follow Joel Sherwood on FB Few watch baseball in Sweden. This is excellent when your team loses..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Politics
Ten new minister faces you should know
Tech
First womb transplant baby in world born in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 5th
National
What's on in Sweden
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
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

1,007
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
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN