Black Lives Matter

Hey Friends, at London Roller Derby we want to show our support to everyone taking action against police brutality and white supremacy; be that through taking to the streets, through donating to Black Lives Matter funds and bail funds, through educating white family and friends, through sharing knowledge or any other forms of solidarity that are helpful.

The delay of this post has revealed that we needed to have those urgent conversations within the league; that commitment to decolonising our majority white league, being actively anti-racist and understanding the ways we uphold white supremacy is work that needs to be an ongoing priority. We must show up for black lives every day.

We want to make it very clear that we support the people taking to the streets. We support black resistance in whatever form it takes. While we look to what is happening in the US, we know that state-sanctioned racism and structural violence runs deep in the UK. The same week that George Floyd was murdered, police in the UK decided to not charge the man responsible for Belly Mujinga’s death.

Belly Mujinga was a frontline worker who was vulnerable to Covid19. Her requests to take up a non public-facing role were ignored by her employer. The denial of the basic safety of a black woman at work has its roots in the systemic racism of the UK. She was spat on by a white man who claimed to have the virus. Belly Mujinga contracted Covid19 and died on the 5th April in a hospital in the London Borough of Barnet – one of the areas we train.

We have decided to donate our full league dues for this month to several grassroots funds, including Belly Mujinga’s gofundme https://www.gofundme.com/f/rip-belly-mujinga

Belly Mujinga deserves justice, black lives matter and while we support collective rage and action at this time, we are committed to holding this space now and in the future.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/StopWatch-Campaign-for-Fair-Accountable-Policing
https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
https://www.blackvisionsmn.org/
https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/
https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/louisville-community-bail-fund/
https://uk.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-tony-mcdade

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London Roller Derby Online Referee School

OH WOW, WE HAVE SOMETHING OFFICIALLY AWESOME FOR YOU!

Did you see one game of roller derby and think ‘I WANT TO BE A REFEREE’?

Are you a player desperate to keep your head in the game whilst you’re socially distancing?

Well, have we got a TREAT for you!

Join London Roller Derby’s very own Cluster Schmuck along side fellow UK ref extraordinaire, Theminist Killjoy and some amazing guest officials, for an Officially Awesome ref school. The school is open to everyone.

They will be walking you through the basics of reffing on this ten week ref school – start from ‘what does a roller derby track look like’ – all the way through to ‘an eagle landed on the track and took the helmet cover – what do we do?’ type scenarios.

The sessions will be held via video sessions on Zoom, so all you need is sign up here and bring your awesome self and maybe a notebook and snacks.

Sign up here!

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Statement from London Roller Derby on the postponement of Anarchy 7

Like you all, we’ve had a lot on our mind recently. We’re all worried about our loved ones, concerned about our income and in awe of the incredible key workers out there working to keep us all safe and well. And we really miss the wild, brilliant sport that brings our community together.

But we know that once it’s safe to do so, we will come back stronger than ever and we can’t wait to see you trackside again.

Sadly, we have had to postpone Anarchy 7 to 2021. If you have already bought tickets, you are of course entitled to a refund. If you would like to get one, please email ticketing@londonrollerderby.com and we will be in touch with how to go about this. However, as all derby leagues are finding right now, the uncertainty of the current situation is making our financial planning tricky. We would love it if you could hold onto your ticket and come along to Anarchy 7 (Take 2) in 2021 where the ticket will be valid for entry. If we don’t hear from you we will assume that you’re happy to come along next year, and we will send you more details nearer the time.

We hope that you are all keeping safe and being kind to each other.

Love,

London Roller Derby

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London Roller Derby: Our Rebranding Journey

The story so far

It’s finally happening, London Rollergirls are dropping the ‘girls’ and rebranding to London Roller Derby! While this change might seem overdue, in this blog we talk through some of the reasoning behind this change and the process we went through to rebrand the oldest roller derby league in Europe. We’ve tried to be totally transparent about our experiences in the hope that other leagues considering similar changes might find something useful in what we went through. 

The discussion around rebranding was on the table for a number of years but in such a large and busy league the process of recreating ourselves was daunting and often got pushed back in the face of other pressing concerns like finding budget to send our travel team to America, paying for London venue hire and all the rest. 

So, why change and why now? The sport we play is ever evolving, not just the tactics on tracks (hello knee starts!) but also increasing awareness of gender identities, diversity and recognising that we need to be more inclusive to our trans and non binary teammates. 

A brand is also bigger than just the name, and a lot of people also felt uncomfortable with the logo and its inherent connection to national identity and Britain’s colonial past. Over the years, and through open discussion, we learned that our logo has been a sore point for many of our members, and our wider community, with the use of the Union Jack.  The Union Jack is symbolic of a range of oppressions, both historic and current, which we want to move forward in trying to dismantle in our league and this was our first step in doing that.

While in 2006 when the league was founded the punk aesthetic and ‘rollergirl’ terminology felt like a good fit for a fringe sport, as our league has grown in diversity and athleticism it no longer sat comfortably. Fundamentally the brand did not represent us and who we want to be.  Ultimately in 2017 we finally acknowledged that we could no longer push the issue of the rebrand into the long grass and needed to undertake a radical re-envisaging of our core values. 

Considerations

In commencing the rebrand project we undertook a number of activities, these included:

  • Redefining our core values through a consultative workshop process and updating our mission statement
  • Surveying the league about the current branding and holding focus groups 
  • Establishing a rebrand task force and project manager to lead on developing a brand that could work across online, uniform and merchandise
  • Aligning our process for the rebrand with other activities such as our strategic business planning and league restructure 
  • External surveys 

Initially we surveyed our league around our league name to get a better understanding of how people engaged with the current brand.

37 people took the survey, and out of those 19 (51.3%) said they did not think our name represented our core values, 14 (37.8%) thought maybe it does, and only 4 people (10.8%) thought that yes, our name does represent our core values. 

The main reason given for negative feelings towards the name was the word ‘girls’ – many commented this was ‘infantilising’, ‘patronising’ or ‘not inclusive’. A couple commented that it was ‘dated’, or that it doesn’t feel empowering, athletic or inspirational.

Aside from the considerations above we also believed that having a professional, modern and unique logo that reinforces our brand and that matches our core values would help us achieve our league objectives for financial security and sustainability. We also felt that a logo that represents roller derby in its current form would help us promote the sport and engage current and new audiences, which will in turn boost our ability to host big events and be a leader in UK roller derby.

Longer term we hope that the rebrand project will enable us to create a successful junior league, in addition to genuinely realising our ambitions to be a more diverse and inclusive league, while recognising there’s lots of work to be done in this area.

In the process we also acknowledged the risks of rebranding. While we no longer felt our brand was in keeping with the environment around us, we also understood the legacy and heritage of our existing identity and recognised the importance of retaining some of the core elements that our members and audiences connect with.

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The Rebrand Team

Baby Cheesus decided to take the reigns and establish a rebrand project team that would lead on the development of concepts for the new look London Rollergirls. Cheesus started researching the rebrand in February 2018 and ran surveys and focus groups to lay the groundwork for the timeline and plan of the rebrand. The rebrand plan was presented to the league at the May 2018 AGM for initial feedback before a project team was established. 

We found that we had a depth of experience in our league with many experienced graphic designers, project managers and brand experts. Although this meant we could have more control and get the work for free, it meant we had to be realistic about what we can achieve when everyone has full time jobs outside of roller derby and train three nights a week.

Our first rebrand meeting was held on October 1st 2018, at which point we reviewed the logo ideas that had been proposed by designers in small focus groups. The focus groups were asked to review the logos and assess whether they aligned with our core values and the brief that we had set for the logo. The results of this meeting were summarised and published to the league and the designers went back to the drawing board to further explore the ideas that were given the green light.

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The designers met and reviewed the main concepts and presented final logo designs for the league to vote on in January 2019. For full transparency, you might be wondering why we are only revealing our new identity in August. The short version is that we voted and decided that as a league that we weren’t happy with the final designs, and needed to go back to the brief and review where we had gone wrong and how we could improve the brief so it really reflected the needs and wants that were expressed when discussing the final logo options. From our perspective we see that our brand is fundamental for attracting sponsors, publicity and fan engagement in addition to being the way we present ourselves to the outside world, so it was critical that the final output ticked a number of boxes, in addition to being able to work across digital, print and uniforms. While we felt pressure to maintain momentum and follow through on our ambition to launch the new brand earlier in the season, we took the tough decision to start over rather than rushing out an output we weren’t totally happy with.

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Sadly for us, Cheesus decided to take a break from roller derby in January 2019 (we miss you – come back!) and so we recruited Sable and Bash’er Fierce to take over the reins of keeping us designers on schedule. We had a couple of meetings via Google hangouts and set a new brief and worked up new ideas that we reviewed, presented to the league and then worked on further.

The final design

Our final design was created by the talented Katie Hellvetica Black and is something we are all very proud to wear on our chests. Having explored and discarded several ideas for logos, the final logo is something we see as an evolution and deconstruction of the original design, retaining elements of the iconic logo but disassociating it from any negative connotations and refreshing it for the modern era of roller derby. The uniforms were designed by Juke Boxx and showcase the multifaceted aspects of our new logo, bringing a contemporary and more athletic aesthetic for our refreshed league.

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The new look LRD was unveiled at our games on 10th August against Rainy City, Killahurtz and Paris. We’ll be launching a host of new merch over the coming months and updating our new brand across our online platforms, so please keep checking back on our website to see where we’re at!

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Roller Derby Fundamentals Programme

Want to become part of LRG?

As of February 2018, London Rollergirls Fundamentals (formerly knows as Fresh Meat) will be taking skaters on a rolling basis.

Anyone is welcome to join! If you’re a complete beginner interested in joining a bouting league, a wannabe referee or just looking to get a bit fitter and learn how to do something you’ve never done before, then our Fundamentals programme is the place for you! The programme is open to anyone aged 18 or over.

Interested? Just sign up to our mailing list here or visit our Fundamentals page here for more information.

These sessions will run every Saturday from early February 2018, with new starters being able to join at the beginning of any month, though they have to sign up first via our mailing list.

Come learn to skate with us!

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