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Rochester roller skaters have plenty to do in October

Let the good times roll.

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Image by Jill Fulton from Pixabay

Lace up your skates -- Med City is all in on roller skating this month.

Roller skating and blading have had a bit of a moment during the pandemic , with reports out about the increased popularity of the eight-wheeled sports and related, decreased stock of equipment .

Rochester skaters will have a couple of opportunities to gear up in October -- first a citywide Roller Disco, then -- for those with nerves of steel and free time in the evenings -- the re-opening of Med City Roller Derby bootcamp.

Rock and roll

Rochester’s Roller Disco takes place from 2-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9. Teen hours kick things off from 2-5 p.m. After that, the adults take over with a full-on roller disco party from 5-10 p.m.

The fun rolls on with a family skate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10.

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The RDA has rented an outdoor rink, which will go up in Peace Plaza west, while music and vendors line the walkway up to the Peace Plaza stage.

“We thought it would be a fun, exuberant, vibrant thing for Rochester,” executive director Holly Masek said. “It was the perfect time to do something different.”

Participants can bring their own quad sets (and pads/helmets, if they’d like), but there will also be skates to rent, as well as “support devices” for shaky skaters.

Masek anticipates plenty of people-watching from those who don’t want to wheel. The RDA encourages roller skaters to dress in full disco gear -- leg warmers, scrunchies, glowsticks, and more.

Leave off the scarf and fringe, though -- you don’t want to wear anything that could get tangled in someone’s wheels if you hit the ground.

You’ll also see Med City Roller Derby on-site. The team will take people through Roller Skating 101, and has volunteered as event staff.

“We’re very excited,” assistant general manager Rachel Guibert (“Velocity Raptor) said. “The day the announcement went out, our whole league was buzzing.”

Gearing up for the 2022 season

Med City Roller Derby (recently rebranded from “Med City Mafia”) hopes the disco will open up conversations about year-round skating in Rochester -- namely, the league’s need for a new practice space.

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Med City Roller Derby uses the Bamber Valley Elementary School gym on Monday and Wednesday nights, for now -- but they’re feeling the pinch of a small space, which would closed if the school had to send students home because of COVID-19.

The team is looking for a new place to skate and host games, after a longtime partnership with the Boys & Girls Club fell through in 2020.

They need a large, smooth surface (ideally 108 by 73 feet, but 90 by 60 would work) where they can use gaffer’s tape to create a track.

The skates’ wheels will not damage a wood floor (as seen in Bamber Valley’s gym) or concrete (as in Graham Arena, where they’ve held bouts), Guibert added.

Interested community partners can email mmrdgeneralmanager@gmail.com .

The space is increasingly important as the training season begins. Med City Roller Derby held an information session for new skaters Sept. 29, and has another Oct. 11, where would-be players can try on gear and learn about the financial and physical requirements to join the team.

After a year off, there will be no normal, 12-week boot camp for new recruits this year -- instead, Tamara Tomfordhe (Pirate Queen) said, new players will be rolled in with the returning team members. They will have to demonstrate basic skating and safety skills in order to play in 2022’s bouts.

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The second information session takes place from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, at Bamber Valley Elementary School’s gymnasium.

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MedCity Mafia jammer Colleen Foehrenbacher, a.k.a. Loose Kannen, skates against the Minnesota Southbound Rollers during the last game of the season Saturday, June 16, 2018, at Graham Arena in Rochester. MedCity Mafia beat the Minnesota Southbound Rollers 266-98.

Skate shortage?

During 2020 and 2021, skate retailers declared that supply chain disruptions had affected their stock of roller skates -- including Red Wing’s Riedell Shoes .

Med City Roller Derby’s skaters haven’t felt the shortage, but then, they already had their gear pre-pandemic.

However, the lack of brick-and-mortar stores for skating materials forces skaters to order skates, try them on at home, then return what doesn’t fit -- a time-consuming and expensive process, said Tavanna Porter (Desi Cration).

“I’ve tried approaching places in town, but without enough interest, it’s hard to get anyone to stock enough skates and pads that they won’t just sell out,” Porter said.

Don’t worry about finding skates before the disco, though. Kanika Couchene said the rink rental comes with skates in a variety of sizes.

If You Go

What: Roller Disco

When: 2-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10

Where: Peace Plaza, Rochester

Cost: Free

What: Roller derby information session

When: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11

Where: Bamber Valley Elementary School, 2001 Bamber Valley Road SW, Rochester

More information: www.facebook.com/medcityrollerderby

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Velocity Raptor's helmet and skates, photographed at Bamber Valley Elementary School Sept. 29, 2021

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