The Boston Derby Dames Need a New Place to Skate

They're being forced out of their practice space in Somerville.

The area’s resident group of badasses on eight wheels is getting hip-checked out of their practice space in Somerville, and they’re asking for the public’s help finding a new place where they can teach girls how to skate, fine-tune their rough-and-tough roller moves, and call their very own.

The Boston Derby Dames, a league of women roller skaters who have been competing for New England since 2005, taking down opponents in the rink one elbow-nudge at a time, were recently notified by their landlord who owns their home rink in Union Square that they need to get out by January 31 due to the sale of the building and surrounding land.

The announcement has shaken up the community of skaters, a mishmash of over 100 women who are either trainers, or part of the local or national travel teams, leaving them somewhat worried about the future of their alternative sporting hobby.

“It’s definitely a concern that we may not be able to find a space in time, before we need to be out of our current home,” said Karen “Tara-dactyl” Tarkulich, a team member who skates with the Wicked Pissahs and serves on the organization’s executive board. “Everybody is pretty disappointed. It’s a fantastic space we have going for us now, and it’s pretty perfect and meets all of our needs.”

According to the group, the women-owned-and-operated roller derby league uses the Somerville warehouse as its “central base of operations,” where teams meet, train, and teach new skaters the rules of the game. They also host classes for younger women interested in taking up the full-contact sport.

The Boston Derby Dames have been in their current space on Joy Street in Somerville for nearly three years, and the news about packing up and finding a different venue came as a bit of a shock.

Because of the “bizarre” requirements for a new arena space, it’s been difficult for the Dames to locate an appropriate spot. Tarkulich said the new space needs to have room for an inside track, so the Dames can prepare for both regional and home games, which include “big checks and blocking” at high speeds. The space can’t have too many poles within five feet of the track, for safety reasons, and the general floor space needs to be suitable for roller-skating.

Tarkulich also said they’d like to keep the arena local, and not push people out to the suburbs since it will make it more difficult to attend practices and teach classes. “We are looking for a space that can be ours, and we can call home and be at seven days a week, rather than rent out hourly or in specific time slots,” she said. “People are worried about leaving our roots in Boston—we were founded here, and we want to stay here.”

With just a few months to go, the Dames have cast a wide net in hopes of snagging a rink that meets all their requirements, but so far they’ve come up short. The “frantic search” will continue, but come January, if there is no centralized location, they will be forced to rent out spaces day-to-day in order to continue representing Massachusetts as the premiere roller derby league.

“The Dames’ need for a dedicated space for this Boston-centric team grows tight, and a plea has been entered to the public for support and assistance in finding a new home for this beloved sports team,” the group said in a statement.

Tarkulich said as of right now, they still don’t have any solid leads. “It would definitely break up the community,” she said.


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com