Aspiring Gotham Girls Roller Derby Jeerleaders bound into a rented Midtown studio as Carly Rae Jepsen’s peppy lyrics pump through a speaker: I’ll just dance for myself. The Ripley-Grier Studios on Eighth Avenue has two levels of spaces just like this one -- small, with squeaky wood floors, ballet barres, and pianos.
The 15 Jeerleader hopefuls are here, on this bright November Sunday afternoon, to try out for a spot on the squad that dances, cheers, and pumps up the crowd at derby bouts.
The action at your first match will appear fast and unfamiliar, and the Jeerleaders -- a Greek chorus of hell on wheels -- will likely be the first point of contact between you and the Gotham Girls. Squad members climb into the stands to teach you the rules of play: each bout consists of a series of two-minute "jams," where a "jammer" from each team of five tries to skate laps around the other team. The other eight players are “blockers,” who play both offense and defense as they try to help their own jammer while attempting to stop the other jammer. Jeerleader guidance is the antidote to mansplaining in sports.
Throughout the game, the Jeerleaders’ antics and infectious energy will embolden you to get crazy, whether you’d planned to or not. And at halftime -- of course -- they take to the track to shake their booties.