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Jul. 24 2013

Roller Derpy

By Dyana Neal | Posted in Host Blogs | 2 Comments

A few months ago, I posted stock pics of my new roller skates, which I was most impatiently awaiting.  Darned backorders! They eventually arrived and I’ve been skating 2-3 times a week when possible. I usually go to one of the various Skateland locations since they’re relatively easy to get to from the city, but I did check out the refurbished Sportsman’s Hall with friends a few weeks ago and highly recommend that rink as well. I’m especially interested in their “Latin Skate” – salsa music at a rink? Yes, please! – but that will have to wait until I no longer have rehearsals on Sunday afternoons. (Jim and I are playing Claudius and Gertrude in Jewish Theatre Workshop’s upcoming production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.”)

Confession time: the leopard-print boots were a huge factor in my decision to purchase these skates. That said, they’re well-made and make me feel quite confident on the rink, although I will probably have to purchase different wheels if I want to learn fancier dance or “jam skating” moves. The standard wheels on these skates are wider than most and a bit gummy in texture, which means they’ve been great as I’ve worked on my stability and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor skating, but they may grip the rink a bit too well for certain maneuvers. Some of the advanced skaters I’ve talked to have paid up to $1400 just for the boot portions of their skates; that’s not counting “trucks” (the metal plate that the wheels and boots attach to,) wheels,  and other parts! I’m not sure I’ll ever reach a level where such fabulous gear is necessary, and besides, do the boots come in leopard print at that price point? Anyway, here are my skates.


The picture was taken in WBJC’s on-air studio, and yes, I did wear my skates for the remainder of my shift on the day they arrived. They rolled pretty well on the station’s carpet and I had perhaps a bit too much fun getting a reaction out of Jonathan (a sometime inline and ice skater himself) every time I needed to make a trip to the music library.

Taking up any sport again after a hiatus of nearly three decades is a bit intimidating, not to mention risky, which is why I titled this post “Roller Derpy.” For those who don’t follow internet slang, “derpy” means “awkward, embarrassing, or accident-prone” (thanks, Urban Dictionary!) That certainly describes my first few skating efforts this year. I wobbled like a newborn colt every time I got out onto the rink and ended up flat on my backside at least once per session. I also had trouble keeping my knees bent, which is a must if one wishes to skate well. Once I got to the point where I could stay vertical on wheels for a couple of hours, I decided to start taking skating lessons. I found a great teacher, Miss Brenda, through Skateland Orchard in Towson and am about to finish my second course with her (a third may well be in my future!) I can now do several moves that were beyond me even in my younger days, including skating backwards, a few basic dance steps, and crossing over. That last one is relatively easy in class or when I’m at a regular session that’s not too crowded, but I tend to become intimidated by it as the rink fills up and experienced skaters start zooming right by my shoulder at Mach 3.

Several people have asked if I intend to join a roller derby team, and at this point, my answer is no! I’ve seen the sport in action and  have a friend who’s played derby for years. Very exciting; I just don’t think it’s for me. A saying that’s popular among players and fans sums up my reservations nicely: “Give Blood – Play Roller Derby.” I’ll stick to regular skating, thanks!

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Dyana is WBJC's midday host. Her full bio can be read here.

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