Eight Wheels on the Hill

A month or so ago, I ran into a hyper group of girls enjoying some beers at Rope on Myrtle. We were introduced and they told me they had just been rollerskating.

Rollerskating! In the neighborhood!

They were serious, and serious about bringing back the fine art of moving along atop eight wheels. They call their group Sweet Action Skate Club.

For now, skating happens every Thursday. The ladies roll through Fort Greene Park for a little while, an then head to Rope (sans skates after an accident detailed below). Occasional field trips and gatherings are scheduled throughout the week.

Any woman can join, but no boys allowed. They should feel free, however, to start a men's auxillary!

Here's an interview with the club's two founders, Abby Synth and Our Lady Mess (those are their skate names).

1. So... rollerskating. Is this a new hobby for you?

OLM: yes & no. like all 20something year old women, i skated a lot when i was little. i bought my skates in the summer of 1998. I was 19, a total trouble maker & just skated around the east village w/ my friend - on sidewalks, knocking boys down. i skated to work & on the subway then too. i was much braver at the time. i hadn’t really skated in years before SASC.

AS: Like the Mess says, yes and no. I skated all the time as a kid (some of my fondest memories are of roller rink birthday parties) but had not laced up in at least ten years. I was happy to discover that it only took a few minutes to feel right at home in the skates again and it was like I had never stopped (although my ass muscles begged to differ the next day).

2. How did Sweet Action come about? And while I'm at it, where's that catchy name from?

OLS: i was apartment hunting and a friend of abby synth's was looking for a roommate. when she was showing me the closet space, i saw her skates, and thought yes! finally! a huge reason why i wasnt skating was because i didnt have anyone else to skate with. and it's not like bicycling, in that it's not utilitarian at all. skating is just for fun, and frankly, it's not that fun to do alone.

AS: I think it was kind of a case of both of us being in the right mindset at the right time. I had been talking about rollerskating and my interest in derby to anybody who would listen, and Mess was the first person who got as excited about rollerskating as I was (most people would just nod and change the subject). Soon after, visions of tube socks began dancing in my head. The rest is history.

OLM: every girl we spoke to was interested. at the beginning it was just me & synth and we spent a lot of drunken evenings formulating the "rules" and the "dress code." at first, abby was just really excited about color coordinated outfits. but we took it very seriously. and we were at Rope one day and she said, have you ever tried Six Point Sweet Action? and I said, no, but when i tried it, it was obviously quite inspiring. that was the first night of skate club, when it was just the two of us. we drank a lot of sweet action that night. maybe we'll get some corporate sponsorship someday from Six Point.

AS: I would also like to point out that while Mess likes to mock my minor obession with the stripey tube socks, she can get right down off her short skirted high horse. I am not only one for whom a big part of SASC's appeal is the chance to dress in cute outfits.

3. Do people actually own rollerskates? OLM: yes. although, a few skate club members bought skates especially for skate club. and i bought a second pair after my accident.

4. Membership: who's allowed in? OLM: women only. but all women are welcome. we have quite a variety of girls right now. a few are mothers, and two are in a band together. the majority of us are tattooed. someone on the GGRD forums wanted to know if men were welcome, and i had to say, sorry, no.

a huge part of skate club is women hanging out w/ other women in a non-competitive, non-shopping kind of way. what do girls normally do together? if it's anything athletic, it's usually competitve, and that kind of sucks. plus, at the time we started skate club, synth and i were in a place where we just needed to surround ourselves with a female support system.

but ALL women in our age group have fond memories of skating as girls, and i really wanted to tap into that mindset. i just wanted to bring back that really free feeling of hanging out with your girlfriends and having fun in a way that doesn’t include boys. but dont get me wrong, we can't keep boys away from skate girls. i think it's physically impossible for men not to look at girls in skirts & tube socks on 8 wheels.

5. Give me five adjectives that describe SASC: OLM: brave, cute, serious, trouble, fun

AS: tough, smart, independent, cute, and of course stylish

6. How many people skate with the club now? OLM: about 10. i get a few emails each week, so i imagine it will keep growing. a few girls are interested in trying out for roller derby next season and just want to get their "skate legs" back.

7. Are most skaters from Clinton Hill? OLM: most yes. but we have a few from park slope & other parts of brooklyn. and we have a chapter in DC that my friend Rachel aka Kitten Kong started after i dragged her to Modell's a few weekends ago when she was visiting Brooklyn.

8. Worst injury while skating? OLM: ha! there are a few pics up on the website & synth was keeping an injury log for a while. synth wiped out and landed with her entire body weight on her elbows, which was not fun for her. but it left a wicked perfectly circular bruise around her elbow. and Jamie (aka Tiger Baby) wiped out on the hill in Ft Greene Park and shredded the back of her thighs. those were actual skating injuries, though.

i fell during a post-skate drink at Rope. i was totally showing off, trying to perfect a new manuever and i just wiped out. Concrete+metal furniture = lots of blood. i got taken out of the bar in an ambulance. it was pretty hardcore i have to say. i have a nice scar on my knee.

9. What's up with the skate names? OLM: well, that's really a derby thing. and the derby girls go for the more hardcore names. like, Helen Highwater & Louisa May Bloodclot clearly have derby in mind. mine is from my inability to pronounce my name when i was a little girl. instead of "Marisa" i used to say "Messa" and I when I was visiting my family earlier this summer, one of my cousins kept calling me Messa, or Mess for short.

10. What do you hope for the club? OLM: we have a few goals. i think most of our short term goals have been fulfilled. we really just wanted to find other girls to skate with, so we can check that off our list.

AS: I think we both agree that one of the goals for SASC is for it to be a self contained, self motivated unit. We'd love it if SASC became established to the point where women know that if they want to rollerskate, they can just head over to the park on Thursday nights and there will be kindred spirits there. When it was just the two of us, of course we'd meet at The Mess's place first, but we're hoping it will eventually get to the point where skate club meetings happen whether we're there organizing it or not. I am really blown away by the great response we've gotten from just word of mouth online.

OLM: now it's about spreading the word. setting up SASC was suprisingly easy. it really only took the effort of word of mouth & setting up a blog that our friends linked to & posting about it on the GGRD forum. but i'd like to see other neighborhoods in brooklyn, and other cities, forming their own skate clubs.

i like that we take "field trips" as a club, and i'd really like to start having SASC-sponsored skating events. i think all of us are really excited at the prospect of tricks, disco & derby.

AS: I second the 'field trips' idea as well -- we've talked a lot about going to Empire as a group or taking lessons at the Roxy. The point of skate club isn't competition, but it's nice to be surrounded by people inspiring you to improve your skills. Personally, I'd like to learn some roller disco moves.