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It's Back: Austin fans crazy for roller girls

Photo: Roller derby participants Photo: Roller derby poster Photos: roller derby action

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Remember when the bus stop was the hot dance of the day and when roller derby was all the rage? Well, the all-female roller bouts are back in Austin and with a vengeance.

You might have thought bright disco lights and short shorts would never expose you to another roller derby era. But it's actually not the first time roller derby has made a comeback.

Roller derby -- a race between two teams that try to overtake each other as they skate around a track in a certain amount of time -- actually dates back to the 1930s, according to Rollersport, the "official Web site of roller sports."

Photo: Roller girlsThe sport of roller derby first emerged after the Great Depression following the hot trend of six-day bicycle races. These races required couples to race around a track for days and at distances that equaled a trip across country.

In Austin, roller derby has become a popular form of sports entertainment -- complete with tight costumes and tattoos. The women who race their hearts out to sold-out crowds on Saturday nights take the sport seriously with protective equipment and tough practices.

"We're not just a bunch of dumb jocks," says Melissa Joulwan "Melicious" of The Hotrod Honeys. "There's a lot to think about out there."

They may not look like the girl next-door but the women who push and fight their way around the roller derby arena are biologists, teachers, mothers and likely to be your neighbor. These athletes combine speed skating with strength and balance to succeed in this competitive contact sport.

"It's funny when new girls start they always ask, "When is it okay to knock people down?'," says Joulwain. "The answer is pretty much any time you want to."

Roller derby is quickly becoming one of Austin's hottest forms of sports entertainment. Check it out.

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Produced by Domenique Bellavia.


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