Last Sunday, Feruqi's bar brimmed with Hellgate Rollergirls donning a red-themed mixture of spiky high heels, Converse sneakers, striped leggings, short skirts and girly-yet-badass punk accessories. Rollergirl supporters sipped cocktails and $1 pints of Pabst while perusing merchandise stacked on pool tables, including kneepads, bearings, pins and scarves.
The gathering celebrated the local roller derby team's new calendar, which showcases photos of a handful of Rollergirls—with pseudonyms like Viperella, Bitty Bitch and Hannibal Wrecker—posing playfully in skates. The party also celebrated another milestone for the team: an indoor practice space.
Since its inception in September 2009, the Hellgate Rollergirls have practiced in parking lots around town, and often driven to Spokane to skate with the Lilac City Roller Girls. Neither arrangement has been easy in winter weather. After soliciting local warehouses, schools and churches for available space, the group got the green light to practice at Target Range School's multipurpose room for $25 per hour.
"It's a practice space only," says member Marlana Kosky, aka M. Kneesya. "We're not going to be able to do bouts there. But we do need a place to practice that's inside."
While the women hone their skills for the stylized, full-contact sport in hopes of obtaining certification from the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, the group's steering committee continues its quest to procure a space for bouts. Kosky says most leagues won't travel to compete at any track unless it's a minimum of 80 feet by 110, plus room for spectators. Once the group gets a space, Kosky says, she hopes more women will sign on.
"I think it's going to be a snowball effect," she says. "When we had our first practice at the new space we had 12 people, and we have 20 dues-paying members. But we have more than 200 people who are interested. As soon as we get the ball rolling and we have a place, I think they're going to be more willing to come forward."