One of the most interesting developments in British roller derby recently is the emergence of MAIDAP and its dedicated ‘after party teams’. JIM SQUIDGE travels to Chiswick, Londonshire to find out more…
“She’s going to do it! She’s going to do it!” shouts Madface McCrazy, one of several Hammersmith Headbreakers A-teamers here to cheer on their latest Fresh Meat intake. “Four minutes gone, you’re on twenty two,” shouts referee Jim Beammeupscotty. By now Alice Spoonwick (aka Malice A-Four-Fought) is sweating profusely and gasping for breath. She knows she has less than sixty seconds left, gulping as she hits twenty three, then twenty four… “Come on Malice!” shouts Madface. Suddenly Alice stops. Her face turns a shade of puce. She leans over and vomits, her regurgitate covering a full square metre of the floor. Jim stops the stopwatch. The crowd’s cheers turn to sighs. Alice looks sorry for herself. “Are these empties?” asks a passing barmaid.
Like most innovations in global roller derby, the concept of ‘after party teams’ originated in Kidderminster. A trio of friends were becoming tired of continually having to repeat sections of their roller derby Fresh Meat programme, always failing just one or two elements of their Minimum Skills. They had begun to hang around with the Kidderminster Killers A-team; travelling up to look after the merch stall at away games or working the door when the Killers were at home, and they were always ready to represent at the after parties. “God, those after parties,” sighs MAIDAP Press Officer Elle Kahol down a crackly phone line, “they were amazing. At least at the outset. As the months went by, though, the team started taking the sporting side of things more seriously, getting involved in tournaments and suchlike. They began wanting to race back early from Saturday away games so they were bright-eyed for CrossFit on the Sunday morning. Everything changed.”
As the Killers, like so many roller derby teams, began skipping the after parties and focusing more on the sporting elements and accompanying fitness regimes, so Kahol and her friends realised that the after parties were the best bit. Something they really missed. “In fact,” said Elle to her mates, one day after all three of them had once again failed their Minimums, “all this skating malarkey is a load of bollocks. The after parties are the real ‘sport’. You and a bunch of girl mates, up against another bunch of girls from a different part of the country. Beer, cider, whiskey, whatever. Last one standing wins the prize. If only we could have the after parties without the skating.” Her friends looked at her. One of them, probably the one with glasses, piped up… “Er, why can’t we?”
And so were sown the seeds for the Major Association of International Derby After Partyers – MAIDAP for short – an organisation that now boasts more than two hundred member leagues in fourteen countries. Almost half of the leagues are here in the UK. “Wherever you are, from Land’s End to John O’Groats, you’re never more than thirty miles from a MAIDAP league,” boasts Kahol. By dispensing with the skating element, the leagues are able to cut out many of the costs – hall hire, sports equipment, etc – associated with a traditional derby league. All their money goes into staging after parties, although perhaps ‘after’ is the wrong word since there’s no game beforehand. “The after party *is* the game,” Elle corrects us, “and don’t imagine there isn’t a lot of hard work involved in becoming a top level after partyer. Very few make the grade.”
Drinking To Excess = Drinking To Success
These might come as sobering (although perhaps not as sobering as required) words for Alice Spoonwick back in Chiswick. “I knew the twenty-seven in five was going to be tough,” she groans, cradling the pint of water in front of her, “but I didn’t know it was going to be *that* tough. What they don’t tell you in training is that it’s not twenty-seven shots of the same thing in five minutes. For instance, most of mine were Jägermeister – that’s fair enough, I like Jäger – but every couple you’d encounter one that was something else. Tequila, say, or neat gin. The one that did for me, the twenty fourth, that was sambuca or some shit like that. Euw!” Alice isn’t too disheartened though. She’s already passed most of the other elements of MAIDAP Minimum Skills. The balancing exercises, such as drinking six pints of cider then ferrying a tray with another six pints on it across a busy pub to a team mate. “You’re only allowed to spill a maximum of 10ml from any one glass,” she says. She passed that one with flying colours, as she did the various falling exercises. “If it’s a choice between landing on a doorstep or the pavement on the way home, aim for the pavement. Less awkward angles to worry about.”
Whilst the enthusiasm of freshies like Spoonwick suggests a bright future for MAIDAP, there are rumblings of discontent from some quarters of the organisation. “We had to kick out a member league from Northern Ireland recently,” Kahol admits. “They’d started doing odd things that aren’t part of our official policy. For instance, telling their Fresh Meat that a good way to learn balance for carrying drinks is to practice it wearing quad roller skates. They were also encouraging their members to buy protective gear – wrist guards, elbow and knee pads – to prevent injuries when falling over drunk. It soon became clear they weren’t really an after party lteam at all, but a front for the local derby league’s recruitment committee. We’ve heard they’re not the only ones. Several other member leagues have reportedly tried to get our girls onto skates.”
It’s easy to see the benefits someone who has been through the MAIDAP skills programme could bring to a traditional derby league, if only as someone to have in the squad just in case there’s an after party they can’t get out of. Whilst Elle Kahol and the others overseeing the sport of after partying remain vigilant, it will be interesting to see how things develop over the years ahead. For Alice Spoonwick, the short term ambition is clear. “We’ve got a big open door party against the Grantham Guzzlers coming up at the end of next month,” she tells us. “I’m going all out to try and pass my 27-in-5 and get a place on the first team roster by then. Nothing would please me more than drinking a bunch of Northern monkeys under the table.”
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