How Bow Wow Screwed the Chez Vous Roller Rink

When the Chez Vous roller rink has run into money problems in the past, there have never been specific culprits. In fact, such situations have yielded heroes, like this past year when Mayor Tom Menino and several labor unions helped owner Greer Toney install a costly sprinkler system.  

But this time – with the landmark staving off foreclosure one minute at a time – there’s someone very specific to blame. Maybe you’ve heard of him – he’s a sorry rapper from Atlanta who goes by Bow Wow (or, as he was known before he grew public hair, Lil’ Bow Wow).    

Without getting into gossip-y specifics (you can get all those – as well as footage of what went down – at 617 Live), I’ll explain what happened. With permission from her creditor, Toney paid Bow Wow’s manager a hefty advance with the rink’s mortgage purse. In return, the braided boy wonder was supposed to perform at a peace event there last Wednesday.

Folks were optimistic; Toney sold out of $35 tickets, and it looked like Chez Vous was in the green. But despite her hired security, Bow Wow’s people determined that the environment was not safe enough for him (it must have been the hordes of grade school students). If it wasn’t bad enough that the disappointment caused kids to cry, Toney had to give refunds, and was told that no advance dollars would be returned to her.

My guess is that the marginally talented spoiled punk was too much of a lazy coward step off his tour bus, or he was never on it in the first place. Either way; he’s a fraud who has little regard for the tremendous repercussions of his arrogance. Lil Wayne pulled the same shit last year at the Garden, but while Live Nation can rebound from such nonsense, Toney landed in quite the pickle since Bow Wow’s degenerate handlers refused to return a nickel.

As the owner of Chez Vous, Toney already wears about ten hats; sometimes she’s a ticket ripper, chaperone, and babysitter, while other days she’s an accountant, disc jockey, and skate technician. She relishes the small business hustle; but the tears swelling up her eyes today suggested that soliciting donations is one responsibility that takes serious emotional tolls on her. 

The Boston Globe takes credit for the most recent last minute rescue of Chez Vous, but the real saviors are the heads who came through tonight's press conference with stories for reporters - the woman who drives up from Rhode Island every Sunday; her friend who taught her daughter and grandson how to skate there. These people are not concerned about the prospect of having to drive to Roller World in Saugus in the event that Chez Vous closes; they’re worried that a critical and needed 77-year-old institution is at risk of getting shuttered.  

Representatives from the offices of councilors Yancey and Turner were on hand to share that message, as was State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, who came in person to offer help (anyone who wants to make a donation can do so on her web site). If you want to get involved personally, hit the Support Chez Vous Facebook page, or, better, yet, come down and strap some wheels on.

The consequences of losing Chez Vous are both tangible and symbolic. On the former note, local children will be deprived of one of the few fun safe havens in their neighborhood (I don’t consider ostentatious churches with scumbag Cadillac-pushing ministers fun). On the latter, such a closing would be another reminder that check cashing spots and the often adjoining liquor stores might one day be the only businesses left on Blue Hill Avenue.  

I hate to be too preachy, but people need to do the right thing and support this place before the summer sun and collateral violence splash down on Boston. I met at least a dozen Mattapan and Dorchester parents tonight who feel safe dropping their young children off at Chez Vous on weekend afternoons; and while that might not sound like a big deal to people on the north and south shores, it certainly is around here.

Even if Chez Vous did get auctioned off tomorrow, as almost happened, it would have survived longer than hundreds of skating rinks, bowling alleys, and other independent family entertainment businesses that have closed at alarming rates in the past half-decade. That sad reality, however, would be no consolation to the kids lining up to skate as us media folks left tonight, or to the lifetime rollergirls and boys who call Toney “Auntie Greer” and consider Chez Vous their own urban xanadu.

Finally – it was in the news today that Bow Wow is considering retirement. And as ridiculous as it is that a hack nursery rhymer would even dare pull such a played out stunt, it’s even more ridiculous that media outlets including Boston’s own JAM’N 94.5 are addressing that rather than the crime that lil’ assbag committed in Dorchester last week. Screw him. Help save Chez Vous. Spread the word.   

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