I found out about Pioneer Valley Roller Derby randomly, before it got way too cold, while driving through Northampton one day with friends. We passed a sign that said “Roller derby tryouts, 7:30 pm at the Bunker.” I had no idea that there was a roller derby league in the Valley until that point, nor did I know what the Bunker was, and became determined to see the spectacle and find out for myself.
When I first stepped foot in the Bunker, a gigantic converted warehouse that the league rents out year-round for derby practices and bouts, I was welcomed immediately by people both on and off skates. The friendliness and warmth that the PVRD community showed me and each other every time I visited was and continues to be striking, something that I hope this documentary captures. The space itself echoes the laughter, conversation, piercing whistles, and crashes that can be heard during PVRD practices and events. It is my hope that by representing this soundscape, a contrasting dynamic can be found between the aggression and grit of the sport and the genuine love and friendship that the derby community has fostered.
So many thanks to each and every member of the Pioneer Valley Roller Derby community, for your friendship and openness to this project… and thank you for not running me over.
Pioneer Valley Roller Derby is a member-run and -organized flat-track roller derby league in Florence, MA. The league currently has four competing teams, Western Mass Destruction, Quabbin Missile Crisis, the United Front, and the Dirty Dozen. All teams and recruits learn to skate, practice, and coach together, with rotating coaching schedules and an emphasis on community building, safety and respect, and inclusivity. PVRD is also the first derby league in modern history to have an all/no gender team (United Front) and the first to have an all-men’s team (Dirty Dozen). During the time that I was recording footage and audio in the fall of 2018, the league was off-season, recruiting new skaters and practicing for the spring.
Visit https://www.pioneervalleyrollerderby.com for more information about league history, recruitment and season schedules, and skaters!