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Ladies Night at Bowlski’s
Weekly gathering a step back in time
Bowling
Carol Nemiec reaches for a ball as she heads back up to the bowl on Ladies Night bowling league. - photo by Jordan Curet

Strike A Pose, Lady Ballers, no matter The Mood Swings, the Down Valley Gutter Girls are at it again.

And with that teaser, welcome to Ladies Night at Bowlski’s, where Mondays give rise to perhaps the chillest band of women, upvalley or downvalley.

For 26 weeks beginning in October, all sorts and stripes send balls a-flyin’ down classic Brunswick A2 lanes. High fives and good times abound. 

Who’da thunk bowling was still so cool? 

Akin to cockroaches, American bowling alleys have endured time, trends and the vagaries of P&Z. And while drive-ins and roller rinks have sighed their last breaths, the national pastime of heavy balls and erect pins carries on. The women of the Colorado Mountain U.S. Bowling Congress are proof. 

Ladies Night is an anomaly, a refreshing reprieve from how slick we’ve become. No upscale furnishings or sexy downtempo beats. No hottest new chef serving field-to-fork to Juvedermed clientele. No Pinterest or Facebook posts in the making. This is a time and place where women don’t want to care about looks or how they measure up. 

Unless it’s in fun, of course.

Bowling
Richlyn Pavcek sends a strike down the lane on Monday night at Bowlski's. - photo by Jordan Curet
Three lanes down, female ball-launchers sport bubble-gum button-downs with vintage embroidered logos. Another group wears heather tees emblazoned in a team named to make you blush. No men, no husbands, no bosses.

“Men bowl two nights a week, women, one,” explains Bowlski’s manager Sandy Hansen. “There’s not a lot of crossover. Thursdays are the popular night when men and women mix it up. You could say it’s the ‘beverage enthusiasts’ night.”

And that’s the gist of Ladies Night: these women are here for good times, “to get out of the house, especially in the winter,” as a local nurse midwife puts it.

For others, bowling is damn near a way of life.

Terry Peckham is a silver-haired spitfire, maybe 5’3” max, hanging with some of the better bowlers present. Her grin lines stretch from brow to jaw, parentheses to sparkling, snapping eyes. Having fun, ya think?

Hailing from Glenwood, she’s the Colorado Mountain U.S. Bowling Congress league secretary. While the Olympic Committee-recognized USBC has existed only since 2005, Peckham has been recording league scores in Colorado for 30 years.

“I have a filing cabinet this tall,” she crows, motioning to her chest. “I’ll scan those records in, too, when I retire!”

Officiating ’til the last pin crashes each night, Peckham now uploads scores into the USBC database, from El Jebel to Rifle to Eagle — on top of her full-time legit job.

Like bowling, Peckham’s here to stay. Not even recent cancer surgery for melanoma on her bowling arm stops her.

“It was big and ugly and deep,” she growls, “Four weeks out and I thought, I just gotta get back to my bowling! I’ve been bowling since I was 12. Both my parents were active in their leagues.” 

Shouts come in from the lanes; she’s up. Off she scampers, delighted.

Hansen wanders by, piping in. “Did she tell you, if her scores tank, it’s all your fault?” An ardent bowler himself, he competes in the league as well.

Bowling group
"Let's Bowl, Let's Bowl, Let's Rock'n'Roll" is the motto emblazoned on their shirts, as they cheer on their teammates and chat with other players. - photo by Jordan Curet
Beyond him, an attractive real estate agent makes her approach, eyes dead steady. Compact and petite, clad for action in the latest fitwear, she squints 60 feet down the Brunswicks. Pins cower. She measures the seismic activity of the earth, notes any crosswinds. She winds back, leg goes up, damn near into an arabesque-meets-Tree Pose (how does she do that?!), the ball spins, slides, glides. And ... strike.

Ladies Night is a parade of athletic diversity. One woman is so tall, the bowling ball takes a flying leap — arcing high, crashing down (was that a bounce?) — it’s a wonder she’s not kicked out for destruction of property. No one else seems to notice, distracted perhaps by the ungodly number of pins she smashes.

And then. 

Then there’s the unassuming lady, a doppelganger for Sissy Spacek with her brown and gray ponytail and wire-frame glasses. She steps out, slim and trim in old-school Levis, a Little House on the Prairie blouse — in any other context, she might simply fade into the crowd. But not here, not in Bowlski’s, not launching a 13-pound torpedo down the runway. Her approach and delivery are so tightly wrought, she’s hard not to notice. Especially when the pins collide.

A night like this — so odd and refreshing, almost familiar — it’s worth experiencing. So come Mondays, as the commuter lights wink down 82 and the shorter days drag at your spirit, tap the action at Bowlski’s. It’s definitely a trip, bumping elbows with so many devil-may-care, talented women just knockin’ ’em down. 

Winter, work and life demands be damned. For Lady Ballers, it’s time to Strike a Pose, one Gutter Girl at a time.