Dig out your bell bottoms and polish off your Bee Gees albums because the West Kootenay will soon be home to its very own roller rink.
After the popularity and success of the West Kootenay Roller Derby League, making it the biggest in Canada, Kate Falconer decided to help spearhead a move to give the local ladies a place to practice.
“I started looking around for space to see if it could accommodate that and there is this warehouse at the [Playmor] Junction that came my way,” said Falconer.
“After much back and forth we decided to go for it and it’s big enough for a practice space, and it centralizes it. A lot of teams right now are practicing in school gyms and with different school closures and summer and if there’s a dance, practice gets bumped. It just seemed like it would be nice to have a derby home.”
She is one of the Salmo Babes of Brutality and became enthralled with roller derby after seeing the first bout in Rossland when that city faced off against Nelson.
Now Falconer helps promote roller derby in Nelson and the area through her store, Phat Angel, on Baker Street.
“Through having Phat Angel I started carrying roller skates. It just started with wheels, I think and then it grew into the people wanting everything, so I started carrying all the roller derby gear. And watching people come in and see the roller skates, they would say ‘Oh I’d like to roller skate.’ It just seemed like there was interest,” she said.
Even though the roller rink hasn’t officially opened yet, the local teams are already starting to practice in the facility.
“The idea for the rink came from a place of derby, but derby is only a small part of the schedule there and I’m hoping we’ll have open skate times for people and start some rollercise classes because roller skating is actually the same cardio workout as running but it’s low impact, so it’s actually kind of perfect,” said Falconer.
The rink will primarily be used for roller skating, but she is also looking having martial art and tai chi classes in the facility.
Growing up in Toronto, Falconer spent a lot of time roller skating both in the rink and around her neighbourhood.
“I had those little metal skates that you put on the bottom of your shoes with a key,” she said.
Now, she’s hoping to get West Kootenay kids excited about roller derby like she is.
“I have three kids as well and especially towards out of town — Blewett, Bonnington, Crescent Valley — there isn’t much to do, so that helped with that location,” said Falconer.
“I love roller skating, I think that once you strap the wheels on your feet you can’t really go back, but we’ll see what happens. The response to my store has been something really positive and this is something the community wants, especially for their kids,” she said.
“We’ll see how it’s embraced by the younger kids. There definitely is a learning curve and you have to fall, but I’m hoping it’s something kids will want to do after school and for birthday parties.”
There is already a youth roller derby league for the area, but Falconer is hoping the new rink will get some new kids and teenagers involved.
The grand opening for the rink is the weekend after Labour Day.