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First bout, full(er) houses

Last weekend, the Albany All-Stars became at least the third league in four weeks to draw more than 2000 attendees to an inaugural bout. The feat was previously accomplished by the Charlotte Roller Girls on January 27, and the Jersey Shore Roller Girls on February 2.

Not long ago, leaving the confines of a skating rink and playing in front of four-figure audiences was considered a very difficult feat that could only be accomplished by well-established leagues. With figures like these, though, and like second-season Naptown Roller Girls home opener (drawing roughly 4000), it seems like a sea change may be brewing.

What kind of attendance is your league drawing in the dawning year? What, if anything, are you doing differently to draw these larger crowds?


I reffed two of those bouts

I reffed two of those bouts (Charlotte and Jersey Shore), and the crowds were not only huge but rabid. The biggest surprise, really, was how many of them were totally new to derby. While people from other leagues, family/friends, etc. were certainly in attendance, it was pretty obvious that the bulk of the crowd was a direct result of promo efforts.

I'm not going to speak for Jersey Shore, as it's hard for me to talk about anything Jersey-related without my 201 pride coming out in full force. But in the case of Charlotte, I've been there several times back in my DJ/promoter days and remain friends with a lot of people in that circle, so I'm familiar with its culture. Charlotte is where Billy Graham is from (the main highway to the airport is named after him), as well as where PTL was born (Heritage USA, Jim and Tammy Faye's Christian theme park, is just over the SC border). Despite having a huge influx of people and jobs in the last 10-15 years, it remains very sociopolitically conservative, with tons of megachurches. But at the same time, its "alternative" community has also grown by leaps and bounds, and it's a lot more unified and open-minded than most others I've seen. People really support each other's efforts, without the scenester cynicism and nit-picking found in larger cities (especially in the North); the club nights I DJed or attended were pretty niche-specific, yet drew very wide-ranging and often large crowds. And so something like 2,200 people were at Charlotte's first bout, brought in by lots of really good and positive publicity, but also out of a desire to support something different. I was not the least bit surprised to realize that I had more non-derby friends in attendance at that bout than at all the other ones I've reffed combined.

I should say Heritage USA

I should say Heritage USA *was* over the state line; it went belly-up at about the same time as the PTL scandal saw the light of day, and it laid fallow until pretty recently.

DC Rollergirls brought

DC Rollergirls brought roller derby back to the city this past Saturday (Feb 23rd). We were able to secure the DC Armory for our '08 season. While we only sold about 63 txt on Ticketmaster - we sold 1100! at the door - it was our biggest crowd yet (we were capped to 700 at our bouts held at the Dulles SportsPlex last season). It was a great experience and those crazy DC Soccer fans, Barra Brava, (rooting for the Secretaries of Hate) made the evening very memorable.

the nashville rollergirls'

the nashville rollergirls' season opener on the 16th of february sold out their venue at the the tennessee fairgrounds sports arena to 1,300 fans. that's only the second time they've sold out the arena, the forst being there very first bout way back in february of last year.

Our sitch (North Star Roller

Our sitch (North Star Roller Girls up in Minneapolis) is similar to HooahGirl's up above. Bout attendance during our first season peaked at 700/bout, where our venue was a roller rink in the 'burbs. We started our 2nd season in Oct at the Minneapolis Convention Center and just finished the 4th bout of the season in front of a crowd of 1200.

Moving from the 'burbs to Minneapolis has clearly been a signif part of that, plus moving to a larger-capacity venue that allows for a more professional production/set-up/experience presumably helps loads as well. With each bout in our new digs we're getting more and more of the bugs in our code worked out, and still have much to aspire to relative to some of the more established leagues, but I'm proud of us and what we've managed.

And congrats to all the leagues out there pulling in the 4-digit crowds - we all must be doing a few things right! But I also know the perfectly-located higher-capacity venues are damn hard to find/afford, so keep it up all you leagues out there, no matter where you're skating or how many you're pulling in. Work it!