As Eloise McInerney suspected there were a lot more boys than girls at the 2012 European Gay Ski week, but that didn’t stop her from having one of her best holidays ever.
It’s six o’clock in the evening. We’re dancing 1,300 metres above sea level while the sun slowly sinks behind the white peaks, our boards and skis wedged into the snow nearby. The music is banging, the beer is fresh and cold, and the shirts are off. Then come the first beats of a certain remix of a certain song and the dancefloor explodes to the sound of the week’s anthem. “Para-para-paradise,” we sing, and it feels like we’ve been transported to heaven up there in the mountains. It was the après ski party at European Gay Ski Week (EGSW), and it was awesome. I must admit that when the idea of going to the event was first mooted, I felt a little dubious. The website was all bare-chested men and drag queens, and while there was a women’s section, it didn’t look like many of them had been there last year. Still, I decided to give it a shot, packed up my boots and board, and with other members of the Wet & Wild club, headed off on a gay old snow adventure.
Best decision ever. Alpe d’Huez is great for beginner/intermediate level boarders, with lots of green and blue runs, but it also boasts some nice reds and the longest black run (16km) in Europe. Despite the rising temperatures during the week (it was March), there was still plenty of snow to be had and most of the pistes stayed open. Things got slushy in the afternoon, but the compensation was the deliciously transgressive feeling of boarding in a t-shirt and sunbathing in the snow.
When we were done throwing ourselves down the mountain each day, we’d land up at what became the highlight of the festivites, the music and dance extravaganza that was après ski, hosted by DJ Gordon Edge and soul singer, Tonnique. After that, it was time for a disco nap, a bit of dinner and a stiff gin and tonic before putting on the glad rags for the themed night-time events. These ranged from Monday’s snowball to a fetish night and the military-themed party on the Thursday.
As promised on the website, there were some women-only events, and as expected, not very many women. But what might have been lacking in numbers was more than made up for in laughs, and I made a few new friends with whom I spent quite a lot of time dancing on various chairs, tables, podiums and other elevated spaces. Etalon Bar became the main lesbian hangout and nightly entertainment was provided by a girl with a guitar. She was Nicolette Street, and her big voice and even bigger smile ensured that her show unfailingly succeeded in rousing the audience to song.
Not all of the details have been confirmed yet for 2013, but the organisers are promising something similar to last year’s fantastically cheap deal of six days accommodation, lift pass and event pass for a mere €339 (€300 for students). This year, the ski pass will include entry not only to Alp d’Huez, but to four other ski domains in France and Italy.
Even better, Ryanair flies to nearby Grenoble airport, from which a bus transfer is organised to the resort by the EGSW. In 2012, pass-holders could also avail of a token system that gave reduced prices on drinks at bars and clubs where events were being held. We were also given a booklet of half-price drink vouchers, two of which could be used daily at the après ski and club night. Ski/board school, gear and clothes hire can all be organised through the website too.
The organisers are actively trying to encourage more girls to go, so ladies, don’t feel it’s not for you. Make sure you book now to ensure you get the cheapest deals. The Wet & Wild Club are also organising another outing, so get in touch with them on Facebook if you want to join in. Catch you on the slopes!
European Gay Ski Week, March 17 to 24, 2018 www.europeangayskiweek.com