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Damn Girl teams up with Skate Zone 71 for Roll Bounce

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It’s the hippest trip in Columbus. With the Midwest being the rightful birthplace of funk, the four-part collective of 70s dance party Damn Girl is taking their celebration to the roller rink. With regular attendees dressed in floral and lamé threads, the monthly function is always themed, with more emphasis on fun than dramatic attire. After finding their groove at the now-defunct Circus bar in the Short North, Damn Girl became nomadic, continuing the festivities at multiple venues before finding their niche at Skully’s.

Raised in Minneapolis before assisting with indie rock events in Columbus, Damn Girl DJ Charles Erickson reflects on the event’s beginnings, recalling that it once had 1,000 attendees through the door at the rustic digs of Strongwater. “At the time, [Strongwater] didn’t even have half the infrastructure they do now. I mean, we used to have to get on a scissor lift every month to hang our own disco ball lights and video projector,” he says. “They weren’t able to manage that, plus they’re trying to turn it around and have a wedding there the next morning. It was just a nightmare for everybody.”

Photos: Brian Kaiser. Models: Sela Williams & Adam Elkins

Hauling their strobe lights to Bluestone, the group realized they weren’t able to sustain drink sales for signature booze, as guests would regularly pregame before Damn Girl. Adding insult to injury, Bluestone couldn’t afford to pass on lucrative private bookings, as the building’s magnitude was surpassed by the quantity of the event’s guests, despite the event being fit for intimacy. While Erickson says that Bluestone is open to realigning with the group, these patchy circumstances left Damn Girl with one last resort.

“We ended up deciding on Skully’s, with it being a little bit smaller but most importantly just a lot more sustainable. There’s a vastly better integrated lighting and video system, so we just show up on stage and plug in,” Erickson says of their final venue. “That’s one of the big challenges of that kind of event, was finding the sweet spot.”

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As the Short North changes, Damn Girl doesn’t have any plans to retreat just yet. With sounds ranging from Michael Jackson to Donna Summer, on every third Friday of the month, the event is the one-stop shop for nostalgic fanfare. Following their six-year anniversary in July, the collective’s first “Roll Bounce” is sure to bring high roller vibes.

“Ohio has always been a mecca for funk music. Our audience is the best, people come to dance and the percentage of the people who are on the dance floor is always high,” Erickson says. “The music that we play is chosen to be fun and uplifting and we’ve worked hard to build an inclusive culture around our night.”

While cinephiles may take rollerskating cues from Boogie Nights and Unholy Rollers, for Damn Girl DJ video and lighting coordinator Donnie Mossman, 2005 film Lords of Dogtown provided a hindsight on polyurethane wheels which changed skating and skateboarding drastically in the 70s. “Before [polyurethane], the ride was bumpy and not as fun. When the ride got smoother, combined with the disco and funk music of the time, a kind of magic happened,” Mossman says.

“There’s something so free about the feeling of your body coasting on wheels—that’s part of the reason we’ve been so excited to throw this party.” With Roll Bounce being held at Skate Zone 71, the Damn Girl crew is certain that fans from far and wide will attend, continuing the six-year anniversary bash and ringing in a new tradition on wheels. With residential spots like Oddfellows, Local Bar, and Flower Child that subtly pay homage to the 70s, Damn Girl has no gripes with continuing their vintage influence.

Columbus nightlife is growing exponentially, but Damn Girl welcomes the pressure. Though they’re just six years in, Damn Girl’s throwback to Ohio’s retro origins shows that they’re here for the long haul. “As Columbus has gotten bigger, people have a lot of choices. So we’re honored when people choose us,” Mossman says. “We love seeing our regulars every month and also meeting new people who’ve never been to Damn Girl. It feels really special to welcome new people who had a good time dancing with us.”

Roll Bounce will be held at Skate Zone 71, 4900 Evanswood Dr. on Sept. 6 and 7. Find tickets at eventbrite.com.

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Champions of US Women’s National Team to grace MAPFRE Stadium this fall

Regina Fox

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The heroines of US women's national sports are coming to Columbus! The United States Women's National Team will take on Sweden on Thursday November 7 at MAPFRE Stadium.

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The match will air on FS1 and TUDN at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets go on sale to the public on Thursday, September 26 at 10am through ussoccer.com and by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Groups of 20 or more can order directly at ussoccer.com starting Friday, Sept. 27, at 10am. Columbus Crew SC Season Ticket Members will receive information via email about a special pre-sale opportunity.

https://twitter.com/MAPFREStadium/status/1174339536144523266

This will be the first friendly match for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup champions this season, who are holding down a 14-game winning streak. Here's to 15!

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Life is but a dream with Greater Columbus Rowing Association

Linda Lee Baird

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Sculling. Coxswain. Regatta. For the uninitiated, the language of rowing can be difficult to parse. But if you’re ready to build your vocabulary, muscles, and circle of friends all at the same time, rowing might be right for you. You don’t even have to be an early riser to join the club.

The Greater Columbus Rowing Association (GCRA) was founded in 1984 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the sport of rowing. The central location on the Scioto’s Griggs Reservoir provides rowers across the city with a place to get on the water, before or after work. Open to all levels and abilities, with new rowers, adaptive rowers, and competitive rowers welcome, the GCRA has provided dynamic opportunities for Columbus- area residents for 35 years.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Rower Jan Rodenfels, whose lightweight quad team took home the cup at this summer’s Midwest Sprints race, started as a runner, and said that rowing requires concentration and coordination that she hadn’t needed before, even when competing in marathons. As a writer and motivational speaker, she had multitasked during her runs, planning and preparing with every mile. “With running, I could work in my head,” she said. But rowing put a stop to that. “You are working in your head on the stroke, as well as all your major muscle groups. It looks easy but it’s challenging, synching up [with other rowers]. Oars have to go in and come out together.”

Learning to row was more difficult than Rodenfels had anticipated. One of her early coaches cautioned the team that as they learned new skills, “Our problems will multiply like rabbits.” Rodenfels focused on learning one or two things at a time, as trying to put everything together immediately was simply too much. “I had to think Swan Lake at the beginning instead of rock and roll,” she explained. In other words, her primary focus was on getting smooth and perfecting her form before worrying about speed. “I could add the rock and roll when we could start moving fast.”

She extolled the benefits of rowing for beginners. “You use legs, arms, [and] back... You really develop your muscles and cardio system.” She cautioned that because the sport is so demanding on your body, having a good coach from the beginning is key. That way, you’re taught the correct way to do things from the onset. “You don’t want to have to undo all the bad moves you’re making.”

The schedule, too, can be a challenge, particularly when trying to coordinate with other busy members of a team. “We’re supposed to be out at 5:30 [a.m.],” Rodenfels said. “We’re out at 7:00 [a.m.], 8:00 [a.m.], whenever we can get all of our different boats in and coordinated.” And while the early mornings can be difficult, there’s something to be said for getting exercise while watching the sunrise on a boat with your friends. “It’s a beautiful sport.”

It’s also open to everyone who’s past their years of college eligibility. “Master’s rowing starts at age 21... all the way up to people in their 90s.” Even if you’re not a morning person, there’s room on the boat for you. Rodenfels said many club members practice in the evenings. Physical limitations can be accommodated as well. “We have a paradaptive program at GCRA that’s all done and supported by volunteers. We encourage anyone who would like to try it to go on our website and sign up.”

Still not sure it’s the sport for you? GCRA offers corporate learn-to-row activities that businesses such as Cardinal Health and even the Columbus Blue Jackets have taken advantage of. It’s a good opportunity to dip your toe in the water—whether you choose to take that advice literally or not.

New members might take up rowing for teamwork, exercise, fresh air, opportunities to travel and win awards, or all of the above. Whatever your motivation, Rodenfels recommends starting with a learn-to-row class, and getting ready to enjoy the ride. “When you do it, it’s so beautiful,” she said.

In mid-August, GCRA members headed to The 2019 USRowing Masters National Championships in Grand Rapids, MI and took the gold. Follow their journey and find out how to get your crew on at columbusrowing.org.

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Obscure Columbus: Brown Pet Cemetery

Laura Dachenbach

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I drove past it dozens of times before I realized what it was. 

I could see that it was a cemetery peeking out from under an overhang of trees, with stones spreading across a field. But something was different. One day while driving down Sawyer Road, I slowed down until I could make out a name on what seemed to be a very small marker: Pug. 

I had found the Brown Pet Cemetery. 

Surrounded by the grounds of the John Glenn Airport, the Brown Pet Cemetery remains mostly hidden. The cemetery was started in the 1920s by Walter A. Brown, a local veterinarian, and a cemetery association was founded in 1934. Over 450 burials cover the site, all a visual testament to the purity of the human-animal bond. Most markers bear the names not only of the pets themselves, but also of their human “parents.” Folk art decorates many stones, as well as oval ceramic plaques with black-and-white pet portraits. DIYers of decades ago have used marbles and shells to adorn handmade markers.

Pet names over the decades show their cultural and historical influences. Dimples and Trixie and Buster in the 20s and 30s give way to Lassie and Gidget in the 50s and eventually become Coco and Misty in the 70s and 80s. But pet owners have clearly always been common or creative in naming their animal companions. For every Blackie or Fluffy that rests here, there’s a Boob and a Stinky Bill and a Dammit, each of them memorialized and apparently cherished. 

It’s hard to tell how active the cemetery is. The articles of incorporation for the cemetery association expired in 1997, when most burials seemed to have stopped. However, during my most recent excursion through the grounds, I saw several graves marked with artificial flowers, as well as a memorial for Mr. King, a ten-year-old cat with a love of shoes, who was interred this past June. 

Regardless of activity, the sentimentality of this space is palpable. (A visit will likely require a package of Kleenex.) Be ready to be touched by the still-visible memories of the pets who have found peace here.

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