Where are we now? The Après Scene

By user41563, 7 Aug '14 at 10:40

Next year will mark 50 years since Alan Rafkin’s Ski Party hit the cinemas. Few people look back at the film with particularly warm memories and even fewer are concerned over its half-centenary next year. However it is interesting nonetheless to think again of the film at this juncture, just to see how the après scene has developed since the 1960s.

The film, now looking very dated, stars Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman (think Zac Efron and James Franco) who play Tod and Craig, two students who want to meet girls more than learn how to ski. With this end in sight, they concoct the plan to pose as two women for the duration of their stay. This aspect of the plot and scenes such as the one of them frolicking about in the girls’ dorm are reminiscent of Some Like it Hot which came out six years before. As Marilyn Monroe stars in the earlier film, so Ski Party has a cameo from James Brown. However, while Some Like it Hot is cheeky and witty and exciting, Ski Party is bawdy and tacky and looks ahead to all the worst stereo-types of the après-scene: essentially rampant boys and mindless girls who don’t appear to care for skiing at all. Sid James and Terry Scott of Carry On-fame could have at any point popped up with Avalon and Hickman to exhale a trademark, ‘Phwoaar! Look at that!’

Forever Young

Despite all this, watching it in 2014, the film remains intriguing. The trailer asks, ‘What do surfers and sunners do when it snows?’ Indeed, then it was a more pertinent question. Before cheap flights and the bourgeoning ski resorts it was the surfer dudes with their boards and billabong shorts that embodied the marriage between sport, liberty and the youth party scene.
A few years ago the film Chalet Girl further pushed the clichés of rich Henriettas, Isabellas and Patrinellas from the Home Counties going to ‘do a season’ at Val D'Isere (aka Fulham-in-the-mountains); essentially getting drunk and serving fat Russian oligarchs. In both cinema and the popular media this is how the scene off-piste is portrayed: a glamarous throng of guys strawpedoing toffee vodka and girls flashing stylish new jackets from Peter Hahn. All of them more keen to drink and dance than to ski or board.

Back to the Future

This idea of how the ski scene should be has jumped back over to the States with a smattering of the culture of Las Vegas and Hooters thrown on top. Trying to match the famed European parties, American resorts have increased their bar capacity and are beginning to bring in big DJs. In an article for Forbes titled

Back to the Future

This idea of how the ski scene should be has jumped back over to the States with a smattering of the culture of Las Vegas and Hooters thrown on top. Trying to match the famed European parties, American resorts have increased their bar capacity and are beginning to bring in big DJs. In an article for Forbes titled 'Skiing Gets Sexy', ski and culinary connoisseur Larry Olmsted described Unbuckle at Heavenly Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe as offering undoubtedly the best party scene in the country: plenty to drink and the presence of dancing ‘Heavenly Angels’ – ‘definitely not wearing ski clothes’, as Olmsted observantly notes.
Well, maybe Ski Party isn’t so dated after all.
Phwoaar!!

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