By day, Daniel Duffy is your typical 38-year-old insurance adjuster. By night, he morphs into Bangers 'N' Smash, skater and chief financial officer/vice president of marketing and relations for the Mountain Mad Men, Colorado Springs' first all-men roller derby team.
Duffy and his teammates will see their very first bout this week — and the state will see its first all-men roller derby — when the Mad Men take on Colorado's other team, the Denver Rolling Bones, at Big House Sports Arena on Vickers Drive.
If you're familiar with women's roller derby, which the Pikes Peak Derby Dames brought to town in 2005, you may wonder if the men's version is identical. The answer is no: Duffy says that women's derbies tend to be more strategic, while the men's "is about, 'Let's race and race and race and beat people down' — much more physical. Both are interesting in their own right."
When television helped popularize roller derby in the late '40s, teams were actually co-ed. In the '70s, it became highly theatrical, à la pro wrestling, and audiences soon rejected the spectacle. In the early 2000s, women stepped back into the rink and evolved derby into the game commonly seen today, on a flat track, featuring real hits and points accrued when a designated member of one team passes members of the opposing team.
The majority of the Mad Men were actually teammates on the co-ed Rocky Mountain Riot. But, Duffy says, "We knew if we wanted to get some real skating time, we had to make our own team." In October 2011, the Mad Men were born, and they've since been practicing, recruiting members, and skating with other men's and co-ed teams.
Although women's derby is more popular, Duffy is certain that the male faction will become as prominent: "Everybody loves it; it's fresh." Next year, the Mad Men hope to have a complete season, and become a member of the Men's Roller Derby Association, which offers benefits like insurance and a nationwide championship. He also hopes to recruit more men (who are 18 or older) for the team.
"We can take you from never putting skates on to bout-ready," he says. "It takes time and dedication, but we get people from all walks of life."