Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This summer's top cultural experiences

Yet another summer has passed by. It's been fun and eventful. Let me share my three most cherished cultural experiences from his summer.

Roller derby

Earlier this summer, my husband (Martin) and I discovered Roller-derby! This far we’ve made it to three bouts and we’re loving it! I’m not going to describe it in detail or to explain the rules, I’m just going to recommend it! Our home team is Silicon Valley Roller Girls (http://svrollergirls.com/) and their home arena is San Jose Skate. The game itself is fun, fast-paced and really easy to get into. The roller girls are tough exhibitionists who love their audience.

We all know the importance of first impressions. The first impressions of Roller derby can be summed up in three words: low-budget, community and fishnet-stockings. The Roller derby bouts we’ve been to are as far from big professional productions as one can imagine. All the signs in the arena are hand-written and hand-painted. They sell their merchandise from a make-shift “gift shop” (aka tables). The arena can best be described as a gymnastics hall with painted palm trees on the walls. It is very obvious that this team and this sport in totally reliant on the players, their families and their fans. This is what makes this experience so unique.

There is a real sense of community in this sport. The players (and their families and friends) sell the tickets, they arrange raffles, they sell beer, they welcome you to the arena and they ultimately welcome you to the world of Roller derby. We got our tickets to our first bout from a man we met while waiting in line to get tickets. He was there early to get good seats and we where there early to get tickets. We talked about how we found out about the sport and he explained the rules to us. Later he made a phone call and suddenly we stood there with two free tickets! It turned out he was SVRG’s team captain’s father. During the bout he came over to make sure we understood all the rules and answered the questions we had.

Fishnet-stockings. I think that sums it up pretty well. The players all wear “provocative” outfits. Fishnet-stockings, hot-pants, tight tops etc. And they all have “provocative” names. The captain of SVRG is called “The Smack Dahlia” (which has given her father the nickname “Smack Daddy”). In the team there is also Booty Vicious, Donna Diggler, Postal Servix and my personal favorite, Pia Mess. It may sound like all fun and play, but they are tough! And rough! And simply awsome!

Jello wrestling

The great thing about discovering something new is that even more new stuff will follow. If Martin and I hadn’t discovered Roller derby we would not have ended up at a Jello Wrestling tournament.

I’m not sure I had a specific image of what a jello wrestling tournament would be like, but I think I had this image of pretty women in skimpy cloth, pretend wrestling in jello for the amusement of men. Maybe that’s how it’s done in other places, but this was not what I witnessed. Skimpy cloth, yes! Pretend wrestling, no!

The women who did the wrestling were the same women playing Roller derby. If I thought they were fearless before, I now thought they were slightly insane (and some of them quite skilled wrestlers). At one point one of the wrestlers got so frustrated she tried to choke her opponent.

I usually consider myself being a tough cookie, but I think I’ll stay out of the jello pit and stick to my jello shots.

California Extreme

I play a lot of games. So does my husband. PS3 games, Nintendo Wii games, Nintendo DS games. The only games I passionately refuse to play are board games (I might explain this at another time). So, when the annual classic arcade games show, California Extreme (http://www.caextreme.org/), opened its doors, we were there. We paid $30 each and played to our hearts content. There are hundreds of games, from arcade shooters to Pac-Man. There were pinball machines from 1948 (Sally), machines from 2010 (Iron man) and pretty much from every year in between.

First of all, I had no idea I liked pinball machines as much as I do. I can only remember playing it once or twice before this event. Secondly. I’m actually half decent at it.

But I did find one thing I was ridiculously bad at. Dance Revolution! I’ve seen the machine hundreds of times before but never tried it. Now I have. Now I know I suck! I’ve always known my hand-eye coordination is questionable but my foot-eye coordination is without a question horrible! And of course there was a whole bunch of those “I’ve-spent-ridiculous-amount-of-time-and-money-on-Dance-Revolution-machines” people there, just waiting to show off their talents. Better to leave it to the professionals. But if I’ll ever find myself, in an empty room, with a Dance Revolution machine, you never know what will happen...

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