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Too Cool For School

Short shorts, tube socks, hey, cummerbunds! These dodge ball teams suit up in whatever it takes to keep themselves untouchable.

June 15, 2008|Melissa Magsaysay | Times Staff Writer

IF YOU thought childhood games like dodge ball ended with fifth grade, think again. The Up High/Down Low Dodgeball League of Los Angeles is carrying on the team sport with all the excitement of a group of over-caffeinated kids, but with the edgy style of the creative types, comedians and club promoters who make up the teams that play every Monday night at the Bellevue Recreation Center in Silver Lake.

Inside the rec center, the roar of supporters and the screeching of sneakers make the scene sound like a high school basketball game. But walk through the doors and music from the likes of Depeche Mode and Digable Planets blares from the speakers, revving up the players and fans who look like an American Apparel ad on steroids.

Extra-short gym shorts, vintage shirts, thigh-high tube socks and metallic leggings topped off with sweatbands in every color of the rainbow run back and forth in a blur. Players hurl little rubber balls with the fervor of women waiting to enter the doors of the Manolo Blahnik sample sale. There are six balls flying at a time -- at the players, into the stands -- though the object, of course, is pelting someone on the opposite team and getting him or her "out." Some players are fueled by a happy hour cocktail, others just pure adrenaline. All of them take their personal style to new levels when on the court.

Team $tatu$ Faction's unifying colors are black and gold. Cat Chiang paired her gold foil T-shirt with matching metallic hot shorts and yellow New Balance sneakers. Her teammate Kai Harrell sports a skull bandanna finished off with a skeleton scarf over his mouth, bandit style. Bandannas are a requirement for Team Bandan-a-rama, whose members wear different-coloredbandannas around their necks, with leggings and V-neck tees.

While most groups have T-shirts or some kind of uniform piece, it's Team PNDB that hits hardest in pink tuxedo-front T-shirts worn with actual tux pieces such as vintage powder blue vests and cummerbunds on the waists of athletic shorts.

Accessories are as much a part of the game as the rest of the outfit, and there's no shortage of glitter and graffiti here. Brooke Alexejun, who is on the currently undefeated team, World War IV, wears graffiti print Reebok high-tops with her uniform while other players opt for more girly footwear, such as shiny silver shoes from Tom's.

The style is a long way from the schoolyard, but the enthusiasm for the game is right out of grade school. And judging by the length, so are some of the shorts.


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