Derby returns to Masonic Temple !

11 Oct

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Summer has come to a close, the kids are back in school, and a new sports season has begun. People are flocking to football games at colleges and NFL cities, the NHL is set to begin while the MLB is in the process of crowning their champions. Also ready to kick off a new season are the Detroit Derby Girls, of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, that’s Roller Derby to you and me!

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Yes folks, Detroit has its own Roller Derby league, and they play downtown at the Masonic Temple. Though it bears similarities, this is not the same roller derby you may remember from years ago. Gone are the knock-down-head-slamming fights of the past; hair pulling, tripping, and punches are not allowed. What remains are women bearing campy names like Maim West, Ghetto Barbie, Tara To Pieces and Fatal Femme, skating on 8 wheels around an oval track trying to score more points than their opponent; It’s a blast!

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Like any worthwhile sport they hold an annual draft, and the public is invited. The Draft Party gives the fans a sneak peek of the upcoming season, the class of 2011 looks promising. I can’t think of a cooler venue anywhere than the Masonic Temple. Made of Indiana limestone and resembling a Medieval castle, the Masonic Temple opened in 1926 on Thanksgiving Day. The main lobby is fashioned after a castle in Sicily, it is Gothic in style and absolutely magnificent in person. The derby is played on the third floor mezzanine, before you head up in the elevator take some time to notice the details; The brass floor plaque is 5 feet in diameter and features symbols of Truth, Strength, and Charity. The specially designed chandelier is impressive, as are the brass elevator doors; symbols of the Craft are carried out through the entire building. The  derby takes place in the Drill Hall; 17,500 square feet of open floor space. The drill hall is equipped with one of three “floating” floors in the US. The wooden floor is laid out on felt cushions, allowing the floor more ‘give’, it was meant to relieve the feet of the marchers who practiced here, today it helps make the landings of wayward skaters a little less brutal.

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 LD weekend 694                                                                                                                                                                                                       After an exhibition match between the rookies, or “fresh meat” as they are known in derby, the actual draft took place. The new girls sat in rows of chairs as each of the 5 Detroit teams announced their picks; after a name was called out it was usually followed by joyful screams and cheers from attending family and friends. New names like Wham!tramck and Belle Isle Hurtya put clever spins on hometown locales. The first bout of the season is set for November 19; it’s sure to be a good time, come see for yourself!

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The action had ended at the Masonic, now it was time for dinner. There’s a great little pub on Trumbull across from the Wayne State athletic field called Woodbridge Pub, it takes its name from the historic neighborhood  where it resides. The facade is brick with large windows overlooking Trumbull, the interior is vintage with the majority of it rescued from old buildings and re-purposed. The tin ceiling and rich wood give it just the right amount of charm. The menu varies season to season, they say the majority of their ingredients come from within a 5-mile radius, talk about local! This is not your typical bar food, as a matter of fact I don’t think there is even one item on the menu that is fried. Meat-eaters and vegetarians will be equally impressed with the quality and selection.  We were really hungry, so we ordered the Queso Fundido appetizer; pork chorizo, cheese, and bell pepper blended smooth and served piping hot with corn chips. Next up the Cherry Chicken Salad with the homemade cherry vinaigrette, delicious, and one of our go-to menu items. Finally, the Stever McFever; a black bean burger topped with grilled onions, tomato, avocado creme, and a balsamic glaze, scrumptious. The pub has a great neighborhood feel, and has been a great addition to the area. 

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