Confessions of a Roller Disco Queen

Once upon a time I played roller derby. Back then, skating was work. It was all about strength,…

Once upon a time I played roller derby. Back then, skating was work. It was all about strength, endurance, skills (you’d be surprised how many ways there are to stop), scrimmages, speed work, and game (or bout, in derby parlance) strategy. Frivolity like free skating was done on our own time. Which meant pretty much never.

Cue to Wanderlust Squaw Valley. It’s been a long time since I’ve been back on skates, so I thought it would be fun to head to the Roller Disco party. This was the antithesis of what I knew to be skating. Unstructured, playful, no agenda, and most importantly, no competition.

In so many ways, this was outside my comfort zone. Yes, I know how to roller skate, and yes, I love me some disco tunes, but letting go in front of a bunch of yogis was a whole different ball game. How would I refrain from knocking someone down? That seemed almost as ingrained as skating in a counterclockwise direction.

I deliberately arrived late, not sure what I was getting into. Were my gold leggings enough of a costume? Would I feel out of place because I didn’t have a crazy wig or makeup? It’s crazy how the monkey mind can screw with your expectations. Deep breaths couldn’t fully erase the anxiety.

In my case, I expected elaborate costumes, tons of groovy yogis, and lots of synchronized skating – Soul Train on the track, as it were. What actually went down was much less daunting. It turned out to be just a bunch of people who, like me, thought it would be fun to roller skate in an outdoor rink at the top of a mountain. Some were in costume, many not. Some were wobbly on their skates, others not. Some were probably badass yoga practitioners, and I’m guessing that most could touch their toes. But all were clearly there to have fun – and not compete.

It took me awhile to get that. To be fair, I decided to listen to my body at first. It told me to skate fast and hard. I had to remind it that this wasn’t roller derby – we weren’t competing. We were there to have fun and let go. Maybe even boogie. My body gradually got it, and together we let the inner child emerge. Familiar songs from my 70’s era childhood allowed me to relax into the music; my white-girl dance moves became a bit more fluid. And at some point I realized I was smiling.

Letting go, I’m learning, has its rewards.

jenn_avatar_2012Jenn is a marketing consultant to the travel, recreation, & hospitality industries in real life, but her true passions involve playing outside as much as possible. She lives at Lake Tahoe in order to do just that. When she’s not skiing, hiking, mountain biking, or running after her dog while enjoying the majesty of the Sierra, she’s thinking about them and planning her next adventure.