The steezy speakeasy

A nat­u­ral evo­lu­tion of the après ski party

Powder - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - —Matt Hansen

A funny man with a funny smile and funny-look­ing glasses sashays back and forth with a Blue­tooth speaker bal­anced on the crown of his toque. Around him, sev­eral young women dance in their ski boots, hoist­ing cans of beer to the sky while belt­ing out the lyrics to “Ev­ery­where,” Fleet­wood Mac’s soft­rock cheese that orig­i­nally hit the air­waves be­fore most of these peo­ple were even born and that you some­how can’t not like no mat­ter what age you are. Es­pe­cially when it’s snow­ing, you are in ski boots, and the song is play­ing out of a speaker perched on a funny man’s hat.

Cheese, beer, wine, and ther­moses of hot soup get passed around the pe­riph­ery of the crowd. The sun goes down and puffies come out. The mu­sic switches to ABBA, then Prince, then back to ABBA, then Bey­oncé. The girls know all the words. The guys show off their dance moves. Some­body’s gonna get lucky.

There are no park­ing lots near this après ski party, no base lodges or ho­tels. The gath­er­ing is at 9,000 feet, in the snow, hid­den off the side of a ski run, and ev­ery­one present ar­rived by skis. What these rev­el­ers are do­ing is not ex­actly il­le­gal, but it’s gen­er­ally agreed that clan­des­tine ski par­ties in the great out­doors are bet­ter kept out of sight and out of mind.

Think of it as ski­ing’s speakeasy, only in­stead of a dank un­der­ground bar, you’ve got cel­lo­phanewrapped snacks, cheap beer, flasks of bour­bon, and a killer twi­light view.

For a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, these on-hill cel­e­bra­tions have be­come more com­mon in re­cent years. It’s no se­cret that base ar­eas in­creas­ingly lack down-home fla­vor, as re­sorts re­place ski-bum wa­ter­ing holes with wine bars. New West tap­rooms and restau­rants can be ex­pen­sive with their high-brow menus cater­ing to wealthy tourists rather than work-a-day lo­cals. In­stead of pay­ing over $20 for an elk sausage and frites, why not just throw a $4 pack of wieners on a hi­bachi grill clev­erly stashed in the trees next to your fa­vorite run? And in­stead of or­der­ing a $7 IPA that tastes like fizzy or­ange juice, why not hun­ker down with a sixer of macro and a dozen of your best friends to watch a brisk moun­tain sun­set?

Throw in the rise of por­ta­ble, wire­less mu­sic and the pen­chant for skiers to party, and you have the per­fect evo­lu­tion of the time-hon­ored tra­di­tion of tail­gait­ing. But per­haps best of all, when the off-pitch Bey­oncé sing-a-long be­comes just too much, you can make your quiet exit on skis.

“I wanna feel the heat with some­body.” Photo: Matt Lei­decker

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