Strange LA: Roller Derby, Masked Wrestling and the Mirror Man

Los AngelesAs the home of many an A-list film star, Hollywood wannabes and three of America’s top sport teams, LA is no stranger to unusual characters or sports-based entertainment.

However, before you go booking your seat at the Lakers or planning what you’ll say to Tom Cruise if you bump into him in the supermarket, you might want to give these three unusual spectacles a go:

1. The LA Derby Dolls playing roller derby

When: Most weekends throughout the year

Where: The Doll Factory, 1920 Temple Street, CA 90026

Cost: $18.00 – $40.00

Forget the LA Dodgers, the LA Derby Dolls in roller derby action at the Doll Factory is the place to go in LA for a dose of high-octane, hard-hitting sport.

Played at a frenetic pace and featuring takeouts that the New England Patriots would be proud of, Roller Derby has taken the USA by storm, forming the subject matter of the Drew Barrymore Hollywood blockbuster Whip It.

The game pits two teams of five players against each other on a banked track and the objective is simple enough- score more points than the opposing team by doing laps of the track.

However, only the designated ‘jammer’– one from each side- can score points for their team by breaking through the pack of blockers, racing round the circuit, and then attempting to pass as many opponents in the pack as possible.

The jammer has 60 seconds to score points once the jam is on and to do so must avoid the opposition blockers whose job is both to assist their jammer and prevent the other jammer from scoring points by passing through.

For each opponent blocker successfully passed, the jammer scores her team a point. The team with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner.

And just to make things even more complicated, the jammer can become the head jammer and the head jammer can call a halt to a jam at any time. The jammer can even pass on her status to the team’s pivot during the course of the game. And that’s just the rules for the jammers!

Confused? Don’t worry, so were we before we brushed up on the rules!

The reality is that you don’t have to understand everything that’s going on to appreciate the Roller Derby which is why its a great way to spend a Saturday evening in LA.

At less than 20 dollars a ticket for four hours of entertainment, it’s also a darn site cheaper than a trip to the LA Galaxy or Lakers too.

LA doesn’t currently have an NFL team (although a football stadium is under construction). However, taking a look at this clip of the LA derby dolls in action, you’d argue they probably don’t need one!

Ticket information is available on the LA Derby Dolls  website.

2. Mexican Masked Wrestling and Burlesque Dancing

When: Select days throughout the year – check Lucha VaVoom website for details.

Where: The Mayan, 1038 South Hill Street, CA 90015

Cost: From $35

Featuring axe wielding Mexican wrestlers, award-winning comedians and busty burlesque dancers, Lucha VaVoom at the Mahan is one of the highlights of many Angelenos sporting and social calendar.

The main focus of the evening centers around the wrestling, and this means comedy costumes, elaborate masks and crazy-named wrestlers by the bucket load with the odd midget chucked in for good measure.

Characters who have wowed the always raucous Mayan crowds in the past include the pint-sized sombrero wearing Las Calaveras, the Mas Minis and Exoticos– a big, black, sassy mamma clad in a pink and black leotard and sporting a massive ginger fro.

Many people’s immediate reaction when first confronted by the leotard wearing crew is to think that the wrestling is going to be some kind of joke, however, this is soon proved to be unfounded once the wrestling gets under way.

The standard of wrestling is pretty high and many of the wrestlers would be able to give Kurt Angle or the Rock a run for their money. The result is four hours of gripping entertainment

For many the highlight of the show is the Mexican midget wrestling match. However, with something going on throughout the show- be it flashing lights, club music or the burlesque dancers that strut their stuff in-between matches- it’s unlikely you’ll ever get bored.

Lucha VaVoom is one of those events that has to be seen to be believed, although this video should give you a bit of an indication of what to expect:

The only real downside to Lucha VaVoom is that it isn’t in town all that often. Drink prices are also a bit pricey at $7 for a bottle of Corona.

Ticket information is available on the Lucha VaVoom website.

3. Mirror Man

Where: Griffith Observatory, 2800 East Observatory Avenue, CA 90027

When: Sporadic sightings since 2010. Last sighting believed to be 21 October 2012

Cost: Free

The late Michael Jackson once famously sang a song about a man in the mirror and asking him to make a change. I always thought that this was an attempt in his infinite wisdom to reflect on our own lives and make some kind of change for the better.

However, after seeing photos of the guy pictured above wandering around dressed from head-to-toe in a suit made out of hundreds of mirrors, I’m now not so sure!

The guy calls himself the Mirror Man and has been spotted all over the world, including outside the Griffith Observatory up on the top of Mount Hollywood.

No one online seems to know very much about the Mirror Man and it’s unclear whether he is planning another appearance any time soon. However, we think he’s great and is certainly worth keeping an eye out for if you ever visit LA!

To help you know what to look for, we leave you with another image of the Mirror Man in all his glory outside of the Griffith Observatory:

Looking for somewhere to stay in LA? Check out the HostelBookers website for a list of Los Angeles hostels. With close to 50 hostels to choose from there should be something there that catches your eye!

Thanks to Todd Jones Photography, Masonite Burnbunnicula, upeslases & siLver sKY for the images from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.

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