(Remember, seatbelts are for pussies.)
Here are some great ways to plan your trip and to maximize the fun therein:
- Research the bouts happening in your region. Finding a neighboring league to drive to watch may sound daunting but fortunately for you, it turns out that the internet actually does help you find things other than tentacle porn. You can get a listing of derby leagues by state or country over at http://www.derbyroster.com/ They have a map of leagues available there too but if you're looking for something to actually help you plan your route and in some cases show you a picture of the venue, try the league map at http://www.nashvillerollergirls.com/map.php Both sites contain links to league websites where you can find out when and where they will be playing. If you already know which leagues are nearby, you can look for them in the schedule listing located at http://www.derbynewsnetwork.com/bouts
- Pick a Saturday night bout if possible. Friday bouts limit you to a range that can be driven to in the time between when you get off of work and when the bout stops. Sunday nights are tougher than Fridays in a way because most people are limited to a range that they are willing to drive back home starting after the bout ends. A Saturday bout date allows you the luxury of driving there on Friday night, seeing the local sites, a leisurely drive back on Sunday and time to recover from your hangover before work on Monday. Which leads us to...
- Find out the alcohol constraints of the venue. Bouts at skating rinks will almost never have booze available due to insurance restrictions. They do however sell Coke, Sprite, Pepsi and a variety of other things that I like to refer to as "mixers". (It would be irresponsible of me to point out how easily a person can sneak a flask in via a purse or pocket and it would be doubly irresponsible for me to point out the fine selections at http://www.flaskshop.com and http://www.drinkingstuff.com/drinkingstuff_flasks.htm so I definitely won't do that.) Locations that sell beer or liquor onsite are better in terms of ease of access but the downside is that you can expect to pay double the average bar price for each drink. The holy grail for the derby/booze fan is a venue that allows you to BYOB. I attended a doubleheader at the Shrine Hall in Atlanta where they allow the audience to bring anything they want as long as it is contained in plastic. The first bout was a blast but I don't remember much from the second bout except that a drunken member of my group started yelling "FU** JESUS" and I woke up the next day with bible-shaped welts on my face and neck.
- Get the location of the afterparty before you book your lodging. If you are fortunate enough to be able to stay at a hotel or bed+breakfast that is within walking distance of the afterparty, you have booked yourself one nights stay in the land of awesomeness. My local league once played a travel bout where the hotel we stayed in was about 100 yards from the bar where the afterparty was held. This facilitated a night of massive rounds of shots, wrestling matches in gravel, geeky girls swinging on a stripper pole, firetrucks, teethmarks, a group of puzzled migrant workers, a licenseplate bra, skater hotel room booze raids and my wife having a rollergirl hickey contest on her cleavage.(Your results may vary.)
- Buy tickets in advance. Many leagues use http://www.brownpapertickets.com which allows you to buy online without doubling the price thanks to a string of made-up mysterious fees. (I'm looking at YOU TicketMaster.) Other leagues will allow you to have tickets left at Will Call if you contact them in advance. If either of those options are available, trust me, its worth it to pay whatever the extra may be and do it. We had people drive 3.5 hours to watch their team play my local team only to discover that the bout had sold out before they even walked up to the doors. I think we can assume that this sucked the air out of that trip.