19
Mon, Feb

Oh Say, Do You Après? Après Fun Then And Now

Apres-at-the-Wildcat-Tavern-NH

Apres-ski singing was popular with folk tunes joining ski songs in 1950s and 1960s. (Dick Smith/State of NH)

Early ski trips were largely couple- and singles-oriented affairs, with 1930s’ snow trains popularizing the social connections and good times that became associated with the sport. Many joined ski trips just for the fun of the après-ski life — skiing was optional if looking for a mate.

If you weren’t staying at one of the few and far-flung early “winter resorts” like Lake Placid or Sun Valley, early après was synonymous with happy hour, dining with friends, sing-alongs, games, and occasional Warren Miller or John Jay films.

“Après” then, as now, meant eat, drink, and be merry.

Let every good skier now join in song,
Vive la compagnie!
We’ll sing to the ski trails on which we belong,
Vive la compagnie!
We’ll sing to Gun Barrel and Suicide Six
And Warm Springs and Ruthies and Cascade, for kicks,
Vive la compagnie!

Sung to the tune of “Vive L’Amore,” “Let Every Good Skier” was popular when après-ski meant socializing by a fire. The 1930s through sixties saw singing ski ditties as a staple of après fun.

Familiar tunes encouraged everyone to sing along with lyrics delightfully cute, wildly funny, or utterly ribald.

“The Drunken Skier” (tune of "Drunken Sailor") was among songs celebrating every aspect of skiing, from the bar maid and drinking revelry to the torn ski pants and the ski bunny who marries the instructor.

Skiers even tried the Hokey-Pokey, a new ‘dance craze’ that saw them “shake it all about.” Charades, board and word games were also popular.

Betsy Child, a 1960s Natur Teknik instructor who played guitar and sang at the Tiger Inn and Okemo’s base lodge, recalls folks joined in on songs like “Michael Row the Boat Ashore and ditties like “Two Boards Upon Cold Powder Snow.” “The Twist, which emulated a Natur Teknik exercise was popular,” she noted.

Gluhwein, Glogg, Bend Ze Knees, Sitzmark, Naked Lady, and Sherry Schuss were among the ‘potions to melt the ice.’ Cheese and beef fondue were popular.

Snowcat-drawn sleigh rides bring guests to upscale yurt dining at Killington. (Karen Lorentz)

“Merry” Expands Exponentially

Modern après offers spas, fitness centers, pools, hot tubs, ziplines, coasters, tubing, snowshoeing, bungee jumps, cat rides, cookie baking, and more.

“After the mountain closes and the winter moon rises, the Moonlit Snowshoe Tour and Dinner brings families and friends on a snowshoe tour to the Swiss-style mid-mountain chalet for an intimate dinner. An Alps-inspired menu with ingredients sourced locally from the Tahoe Food Hub is served,” notes Alpine Meadows’ Liesl Hepburn. 

SquawValley/Alpine Meadows caters to families with children with après activities like snowshoeing.(Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows)

Smuggler’s Notch, Okemo, Loon, Bretton Woods, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek, Squaw Valley, Boyne Mountain and Sipapu are among many resorts sporting a strong family focus with afternoon après activities, and/or night-time events like fireworks, magic and nature shows, and Kids Night Out (movies with pizza) so parents can enjoy a romantic dinner.

Modern dining ranges from comfort foods to culinary extravaganzas, simple to elegant, base village to mountaintop.  

One thing hasn’t changed: the après-bar scene. It’s where singles and the young-at-heart still meet and gyrate.

Sister Kate’s (Stowe), Wobbly Barn (Killington), Papa Charlie’s (Lutsen), Peruvian Lodge Bar (Alta) and Mangy Moose (Jackson) are as popular as ever, and big name bands can be found from coast-to-coast, rocking the rafters into the wee hours. 

Vive la après-ski!

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