The relevance of age in Derby or entertainment

I saw a film the other night at Berkeley Rep Theater that blew me away.

I don’t know whether to call it cinema verite, or a rockumentary or whatever, but “Broadway Idiot” stands on its own as a remarkable film.

It is about Green Day and how the stage production of “American Idiot” came about.  And the seamless way it went from actual happenings to the creation and the production, with the best presentation of music I have seen in such a film (sorry,Stones).  It left me begging for more after the 90 minutes were over.  Just take my word, see it when you can.

The audience was more Berkeley Rep than Green Day, older demographics (just like the audience that saw “Derby Baby” at the Sonoma Film Festival), but they thoroughly enjoyed it.

I guess we can credit social media for the cross-generational acceptance of music and culture and sports today.  My day (gawd, I hate that), we had Benny Goodman, Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Patty Page, etc, and they seemed to have lasted for years.

Not any more.  There is a hipness in being aware of what is going on out there and a desire for all to join in.

What if you tell people there are over 1900 active Roller Derby players in the world…..many would think that is amazing.  But when they know that the 1900 plus are all over the age of 40 and still participating and contributing to the knowledge and growth of the sport, how do you equate that?

In the 50’s over 35 was considered getting old; put on the farm dresses and ugly shoes.  And my father tried to show that even older people could participate by making the elderly “Ma” Bogash a star, at the advanced age of 39.

Image by kipcurry from

Image by kipcurry from

Really, what does age in years matter now.  Most of us are trying to stay in condition; many might think that full contact Roller Derby is a bit extreme, but those who are participating don’t.  One woman still skates at 68, and then there is the fabulous Dick Roche (“Merby Dick”) who is in this third year of full-on skating at the age of 73. (click on link at bottom of the post to see Dick -with the white beard- skating) And a goodly number of over 50s are participants.

And by the way, I did an informal sex survey on the over 40 site last week, and most said their sex life was better after they started skating; a few said either they were too tired or who had time for it; and one wonderful answer was “I couldn’t believe what a difference solid thigh muscles would make!”  You just never know.

These champions are not asking for special waivers or conditions; they skate the skill tests and the games.  Read some of the posts on “Derby over 40” on facebook, and just soak in how remarkable our game is for everyone; and it is one of the hardest to play amateur games on the block.

In my time with Derby, probably only Bert Wall was over 40, and he wouldn’t admit it.  Today at 87 he exercises and plays tennis 5 times a week, and of course is the club’s senior champion.

If you have some of these remarkable people in your league, welcome them, learn from their life experience and, if you get smart ass, you will find yourself on the floor.  No wimps in this group.

5 comments on “The relevance of age in Derby or entertainment

  1. Jerry –

    I’m going to be doing a story on the Providence Roller Derby team and want to contrast it with an article on the Roller Derby from the 60s and 70s that I grew up loving. Saw all the games in Providence, loved the Derby, hated the Games. This is for a new online magazine that’s covering the state’s nonprofit community and the arts.

    Let me know if you are interested in doing an interview for this – to talk about the old Derby and your take on the new things going on.

    Enjoy reading your stuff.


    Dave Goldstein


  2. By the way, I saw American Idiot in its pre-Broadway run at the Berkeley Repertory Theater (with the Broadway cast)…….amazing show……had that Roller Derby kind of excitement!

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