Struggling Chez Vous keeps it on the wheel
Sometime between the advent of rollerblades and the invention of those irksome Heelys, America forgot about roller-skating. Even worse: young adults who spent middle-school Saturdays munching Ellio’s and gliding to the sounds of Stevie B. would rather join ironic ping-pong and kickball teams than twirl around neon rinks at liberating speeds.
I used to be one of those pathetic skater haters, until a friend and I hit the Chez Vous roller rink in Mattapan for its weekly adult skate — which was appropriate, since this was my first time ever skating with a beer gut and pubic hair.
Since I’d heard that the landmark family fun center is in dire financial straits (it needs $170,000 by November for the installation of a sprinkler system), I wasn’t expecting such commendable conditions. What with the heavy lighting, the smooth floor, and the mint graffiti murals, Chez Vous could pass for a movie set that was built to clone an authentic ’80s rollerdome.
Despite my desire to relive grade-school “King of the Rink” fantasies, there was no chance of showing up the regulars who have held Chez Vous down for years. My skills came back almost immediately, but the sexy tall leotard chick who floated as if she’d been born skating was not about to surrender her crown, and neither was the ultra-suave OG with glow-in-the-dark wheels.
For every vapid contemporary rap song that the DJ spun, he played at least two vapid rap songs that I grew up adoring (“Shoop,” baby, “Shoop”). He also rocked a handful of those throwback freestyle cuts that nobody can name; it’s a good thing, too, because roller-skating without Lisette Melendez is tantamount to posing without Blink 182.
I shouldn’t have to explain this to tolerant liberals out there, but you won’t get shot just for going into Mattapan. Despite an ill-deserved reputation stemming from unfortunate crack- and gang-era incidents, Chez Vous is a community safe haven with a police station across the street. If that’s not enough to persuade you to skip that next Lebowski meet-up, then perhaps bowling really is more your speed.
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