Jeff BonHam (left) and Jay DeWitt have started the LOL Lounge

Jeff BonHam (left) and Jay DeWitt have started the LOL Lounge

LOL Lounge hopes to be a hit among teens

A new Saturday night teen drop-in centre, LOL Lounge, is opening in Chilliwack on Feb. 23, at Spencerzone Bounce.

Chilliwack teens are getting a new Saturday night hangout space, complete with big screen TVs, PlayStation 3 games, food, a dance floor, and lots more.

LOL Lounge’s grand opening will include a speed texting championship, and an air hockey and foosball tournament, on Feb. 23 from 7pm until midnight.

Organizers Jay DeWitt and Jeff Bonham insist that this isn’t another sporadic teen club, and promise that the Saturday-only lounge will offer something different every weekend, including hip hop lessons and a dance competition on Feb. 30, and air band contests, Vancouver Canucks game nights, local live bands, and amateur DJs on other days.

DeWitt, who started a production company at 16 years old, was Play Abby’s general manager last year, and is the current marketing manager at Spencerzone Bounce, has been seeking a way to reduce the rates of drugs and alcohol among teenagers.

“I’ve spoken to so many parents about the problems in Fraser Valley…about the real issue that needs to be dealt with,” he says. “I’d love to make a difference, and I think I can here.”

DeWitt and Bonham created the event out of an “unbelievable” reaction from parents and teens who feel that Chilliwack badly needs such a drop-in centre.

The lounge will be using the large capacity entertainment facility Spencerzone Bounce at 8705 Young Road, but organizers will deflate most of the bouncy castles — keeping one as an obstacle course — and fill the space with leather couches, TVs, and games.

For promotion, the partners have luckily won the attention of a local high school student, who has turned into a highly dedicated foot soldier.

“I think it’s important because it’s another alternative for teenagers to actually go, hang out, instead of being at home bored or wandering the streets, going out drinking or doing drugs,” says Tristina-Lee Quarton, a Chilliwack Secondary School senior. Quarton, who has been working with the organizers since meeting them at a city dog park, has been making classroom announcements at her school this week, postering the halls with a flyer that she redid, and getting her friends to publicize the event at their youth groups. She also worked on the name, which she thinks flows better than the original Club Infusion.

Quarton believes LOL Lounge will be a hit, because it’s safer than a club setting, more varied than a church group, and fills a gap in Chilliwack.

“(Teenagers) know they can go there, and have fun, and know that they’re safe, and nothing wrong could happen,” she explains.

The “good, clean fun” comes complete with a dress code: no bandanas, no baggy clothes and no underwear showing, no extremely short shorts, nothing gang-affiliated, and no curse words on clothing. And of course, there’s no alcohol or drugs on site, and no outside food or drinks.

LOL Lounge is the first venture from DeWitt and Bonham’s local marketing and promotion company Simply Awesome Live Events, which will also start hosting a doggy daycare in March.

The lounge will be open every Saturday night, with a $10 admission charge. Pizza and pop will be sold on site. Organizers hope to add a Friday night lounge later on.

This Saturday, the first 50 through the door get free food.