The teams have names such as the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers and the Hell Marys. The players are decked out in miniskirts and torn fishnet tights -- and some are dressed as wayward Roman Catholic schoolgirls or wild rodeo queens.
And the matches offer a kind of controlled mayhem, put to flashing lights and loud music.
Roller derby -- the campy "sport" that filled low-rent arenas from the 1930s to the 1970s -- is back, rowdier and more raucous than ever.
"Faster, faster, go, go, go!" the crowd chants at a bout featuring the Texas Rollergirls, one of two all-female leagues competing in Austin.
The crowd is into it, literally: With fans only inches from the track, skaters frequently fly into the audience. Men in red shirts rush to clean up any beer spilled by spectators who get slammed. Then a jolly announcer reminds fans that there's plenty more beer for sale.
The new leagues are offering their own twist on the roller derby tradition, with racy costumes and live music. Teams have been popping up in Texas, Arizona, Washington state and California; fans of all ages have made Austin a roller derby hotbed.
There's athleticism, to be sure. Skaters jockey for position and ram into each other while racing around the track. Packs of skaters try to propel their jammer, a player who earns points by lapping opponents.
But there's also a hint of professional wrestling, as outrageously named skaters -- check out Dee Generate and Reyna Terror -- tangle theatrically. "Think WWE meets burlesque meets the X-Games," says the Texas Rollergirls Web site.
Live music is a big part of the show. The Texas Rollergirls describe their league as "rock 'n' roller derby." Before one bout, an all-woman punk band, the Winks, revved up the crowd.
"Everyone here is rabid about music. They're funky," said Melissa Joulwan, a freelance writer who goes by the name Melicious when skating for the Texas Rollergirls. "The laid-back, easygoing attitude of Austin also translated into us being able to do it here."
The Texas Rollergirls league consists of 60 women on four teams. Along with provocative outfits, the women, most of them in their twenties and thirties, wear helmets, kneepads and protective mouthpieces. They also own and operate the league.
The rival Lone Star Rollergirls league also boasts four themed, costumed teams. Unlike the Texas Rollergirls' flat track, they compete on a banked, or sloped, track. Some members of the two Austin leagues once were part of a single operation, until the Texas Rollergirls split off.
Costumes and drama -- including an occasional "fight" that can earn a skater a soft spanking with a cardboard paddle -- are part of the attraction of the slightly risque derby.
"It's a chance to see pretty girls wearing skimpy outfits. . . . [And] we're actually doing something," Joulwan said. "I don't know that it would be as popular if we wore traditional uniforms."
Still, the Texas Rollergirls welcome children to their meets. They bill themselves as "PG-13," and regularly donate to animal and youth charities.
Roller derby isn't just about being showy; it involves solid skating and maneuvering, said Vendetta von Dutch, blocker for the Hotrod Honeys.
"Anything can happen," said Vendetta, who missed some bouts this season after breaking her collarbone during a run-in with a skater known as Dinah-Mite. "It's all about multitasking and reaction time."
Vendetta is actually Julie Underwood, 32, an elementary school teacher who moved from Dallas to Austin to live the roller derby life.
"The second I heard about it, I wanted to come see it. The second I saw it, I knew I wanted to do it," she said.
Her all-black costume is accented with a touch of bright pink.
The teams hold regular practices, but fights aren't choreographed, and the skating competition is real, Joulwan said.
The games have some trappings of other sports -- referees, printed programs and a solemn singing of the national anthem.
But the Texas Rollergirls constantly struggle with how much should be about sport and how much about show, Joulwan said.
The current equation seems to be working. A typical competition draws 1,100 spectators.
Fans initially were regulars from the Austin music scene, but lately the crowd has come from all walks of life, Joulwan said.
"People told their friends, and they told their friends, and now we have normal people, too," she said.