Here at Pivotstar, we loooove roller skate shops. And not just because they sell Pivotstar! Skate shops are passionate supporters of roller derby, and have played a huge part in turning a kitchy, throwback piece of nostalgia into a legitimate contender in the world of alternative sports. So, to show our appreciation for awesome skate shops all over the word, we are introducing a new series on the blog…Shop Spotlight!
Our first featured shop is well-known in Western Canada. Nerd Roller Skates in Calgary is owned and operated by Roxy Acetylene (aka Kathleen Janzen) and Dev Null (aka Jim Bourne), who are both veteran derby skaters, and self-professed skate “nerds.”
Who are you?
Roxy: I’ve played in almost every colour of jersey in five different countries. My first team was the Calgary Roller Derby Association’s Thrashin’ Lassies. I also played on the CRDA B52 Bellas, the Red Deer Belladonnas, and Chinook City’s Kill Jills. I’ve also been a board member for more than one league, a team co-captain, and a die-hard bout volunteer.
In 2008, I went on the first Team Canada trip to the UK. It was basically, “Hey, who wants to go to London, Birmingham and Glasgow and play some derby?” In Glasgow it was the first game for almost half their team, and Birmingham had so few players to roster, I put on a green jersey and skated for their side. London spanked us. I loved watching derby explode in the UK after that, and I will always cheer for London at WFTDA champs (until a Canadian team gets in there). One of my other favourite derby moments was playing in the first Star Trek vs Star Wars at Rollercon. Nerdiest trash talk ever!
Dev: I’m Dev Null, Captain of the Glenmore Reservoir Dogs, and alumni of the 2014 Team Canada Men’s Team. A group of us founded the Dogs in 2010, and that summer we practiced in an outdoor rink (for free) near the Glenmore Reservoir here in Calgary. That winter we rented the gym at Beltline Aquatic and Fitness Centre and have kept that space for our new skaters ever since. I have coached, taught at camps, and was, until this past summer, a Level 2 certified WFTDA Official.
When I’m not skating, I’m the President of Chinook City Roller Derby League, Chair of the Flat Track Fever tournament, Chair of Men’s Roller Derby World Cup organizing committee, and I sit on the board of Roller Sports Canada as the VP Roller Derby.
When and why did you start playing derby?
Roxy: I started playing derby in 2006. At the time, the only teams west of Montreal were Terminal City and Oil City in Edmonton. I went to a meeting at a second hand clothing shop in Calgary where we looked at a photocopy of the rules (“No fighting, no dog piles”) and I asked if it was okay if I didn’t know how to skate. Almost nobody else did either! I remember looking at all these photos of these badass women with creative names and it spoke to my sense of anarchic joy.
Dev: My first game was with Team Canada in Victoria against the Puget Sound Outcast on September 21, 2009. It was a different style of derby back then where big hits were the rule. In January 2010 I played in an invitational tournament in Edmonton and after the bout, I brought a few people together for a meeting where we started working on getting skaters together, and that summer we formed the Dogs.
What’s your favourite thing about derby?
Roxy: Derby has a way of finding people when they need things to change in their lives and being a catalyst for that change. It challenges people to grow.
Dev: I like the inclusivity of roller derby. It doesn’t matter if you are a great skater or can’t skate at all; there is a place in roller derby for you.
What are you the best at on the track?
Roxy: My teammates call Tiny Wide.
Dev: As a team we support each other, and I’m good at helping people find ways to give that support.
You’re both veterans in a sport with a high burnout rate. What’s the secret to your longevity?
Roxy: Stepping outside of your derby world and playing with other people, traveling, and looking at the bigger picture of the sport is important. Right now I’m on a break from active play. I’m not ready to say I’m done, but I give most of my energy and brain space to Nerd so I needed to give myself some non derby time to balance.
Dev: Through moving things forward, I can find renewal in change. Through my work with Roller Sports Canada I can help to move Canadian roller derby forward by bringing everyone together to build a national organization, and eventually get support from Sports Canada.
Roxy: Years ago I went to check out a skate shop in the States. I found out my skates were too big, and when I replaced them, and things that were hard suddenly got easier. It bothered me that there wasn’t a place to get good gear advice near where I lived, and the seed was planted.
Dev: It’s Conan’s fault. I was officiating at a tournament in Silverdale, WA, and between games was talking with Conan of Radar Wheels. He asked me who my local skate shop was and I said there wasn’t one. He looked at my skates (I’d had to repair a few eyelets and had changed everything on them at least once) and he told me I should do something about that. With Roxy’s help, we did!
What does Nerd do that other roller skate shops don’t?
Roxy: I have a BFA in sculpture and silversmithing. Oddly enough, I credit that education with giving me a good sense of how things fit together in 3D, and that really helps me visualize how skates fit with a skater. We also have a boutique style shop in a really great neighbourhood, and being on a busy public street gives us the opportunity to share the awesomeness of roller skating and roller derby with a much broader cross section of people.
Dev – I think we are doing customer service really well. If it’s gear fit, skate customization, or advice on wheels, we have most of that dialed in. We try to always have a good stock of sizes so that when people come into our shop we can fit them out in different styles and find the one that fits best.
What’s your favourite Pivotstar item? Why?
Dev: I like the GW Tush shorts. You’ll have to find video from the Magic Mike’s vs Chippendales from Rollercon 2015 to see why…
[We googled it. It was worth it. Not 100% SFW, though. – Ed.]
Describe your vision for the future of roller derby.
Roxy: Roller derby started out kind of like a circus, and the players and organizers are now working really hard on it being seen as a “serious” sport. I’d like to see participation in the sport increase and evolve to the point where there is a place for both the serious athlete and the skater who likes to roll around with friends and have a few laughs before beer time.
Dev: I hope to be rostered on Team Canada Men’s for 2016, and be one of the key players managing that event. I’m also hoping to remain on the Board of Directors for Chinook City Roller Derby League, and to stay involved with Flat Track Fever for at least the next couple of years.
Any events coming up that you’re excited about?
Roxy & Dev: Flat Track Fever May 28-29 2016, and Men’s Roller Derby World Cup June 21-24, 2016, both at the Acadia Recreation Complex in Calgary!