When I was eight, I begged my mom to enroll me in martial arts, but it didn’t happen. I grew up obsessed with Jean Claude Van Damme, Bruce Lee, and WWE — but I had no outlet for all that raw, adrenaline-infused aggressive energy with which every child is blessed — regardless of gender.
As a coping strategy, my best friend and I created wrestler personas that allowed us to harness the power of the rumble while wearing our bathing suits over tights.
Years later, I am dressed as a 102-year-old Sicilian grandma, and getting slammed on the ropes by a frostbite-toed figure skater while an ecstatic crowd cheers. There are feathers flying everywhere, courtesy of a Romanian gangster ‘s chicken bomb, and they are sticking to my fake-blood-and-whiskey-covered clothes.
This is the Dawson City League of Lady Wrestlers.
An outlandish project that originated in a tiny goldrush town up in the Yukon, the Dawson City League of Lady Wrestlers (or DCLOLW) is an arts collective that combines wrestling and theatrics, delivering outrageous entertainment with a feminist message.
Borrowing inspiration from female wrestling pioneers like the amazing G.L.O.W. (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), DCLOLW features larger-than-life characters: a shrieking swamp witch that lures men to their doom, a zealous Reverend bent on evangelizing the feminism out of you, and a short-tempered lumberjack that now is a corporate sellout.
With homemade costumes and props — and a healthy dose of glitter — these bad-ass babes laugh at the ridiculousness of gender roles and outdated ideas of femininity. The “sexy catfight” stereotype is discarded — giving room to an empowering community experience within an inclusive, body-positive, trans-friendly and queer-friendly space.
These ladies are not only ready to rumble on the ring — but they also build it themselves, constructing a 16 x 16 fighting ring out of old tires and pallets found in the garbage dump. And that is not the only DIY aspect of the league; they also solely manage organizing the events, procuring funds, and creating media content.
They also DIY their own ADORABLE merchandising!
One of the League’s founding members, Yasmine Renaud (aka Rev. Annie Goodfellow) gets a kick out of shocking the audiences. She says:
“I love it when people come expecting foxy boxing, then they get shot by a tampon gun and quickly realize this is not the wrestling they grew up watching.”
But the reach of this project goes beyond entertaining.
DCLOLW also acts as an older sister to Yukon Girls Rock Camp, part of the Rock Camp Alliance that helps girls build self-esteem and find their voices through music, leadership, and social justice workshops. Many of the DCLOLW wrestlers are also camp counselors, providing a kickass role model of self-sufficiency, DIY power, and sisterhood to young girls that look up to them.
“It has always been more than just wrestling. Wrestling is the medium we choose to make noise and take up space. The same goes for Girls Rock Camp — it could be a train conducting camp for all I care, as long as these little ladies leave feeling capable, supported and in charge.”
So whether they are tumbling on the ring or putting patriarchy in a choke-hold, these Lady Wrestlers never run away from a good fight.