Ode to the Dance Club

Why skiing and dancing go so well together.


It’s 2 A.M. and your legs are tired, but your booty’s still shakin’.

We’re on the dark side of midnight at South Lake Tahoe’s Vex nightclub and I can feel the sweat on the nape of a redheaded stranger’s neck as my cheek touches it. My hand is on her hip and we’re rolling to Akon’s “Don’t Matter,” though they could be playing Motörhead for all I know. It’s not as if our body language would be any different.

I like to think of going out at night in a ski town as going on safari: Sometimes you’re the hunter, sometimes you’re the hunted, and sometimes you’re the hapless servant being used as a human shield. One late night last January, I was all three in a club at a Colorado resort. I shielded a platonic female friend from an overly aggressive dude, hip-checked a co-worker into the arms of an oncoming cougar, and simultaneously made eyes with a cutie in a pink skullcap dancing 10 feet away. (If you’re reading, it’s All this while spinning awkward white-boy-overbite circles on the dance floor.

After a day spent hunkered down in goggles fighting the cold, we need to go out and get a better look at the folks we’ve seen swaddled in Gore-Tex during the day. Sure, skiers leave tight Euro pants and $900 heels to their city brethren, but even telemarkers throw on an ironic T-shirt and a fresh beanie before hitting the bar. Is the bartender in the miniskirt the same girl you saw kicking steps up the bowl this morning? It’s nice to dream anyway.

At Vex, with its close-in humanity, gyrating masses, and blinding disco lights, my chief concerns are (1) constant motion to keep the lactic acid out of my supremely tired muscles, and (2) not doing anything to offend my new (and very capable) lady friend in knee-high leather boots. But after slow-grinding for three songs, I spill vodka-cranberry down her back when my pop doesn’t quite lock. The dance is over. As she walks away, I’m left wondering if the slogan on her shirt—redheads make better lovers—is ironic or not.

Get Your Freak On…

Cecelia’sBreckenridge, Colorado
Some of the hottest DJs in Colorado roll through this former cigar bar. The dance floor feels a bit like a frat-house basement, but it does have a stripper pole.
Savage BeagleWhistler, British Columbia
Known for its fruity martinis and Tuesday-night soul trains, this is the place to go when the average age at Tommy Africa’s creeps north of 40.
VEXSouth Lake Tahoe, California
Similar to the clubs you’ll find in Vegas, this hot spot has VIP booths, bottle service, disco lights, and scantily clad go-go dancers.
Wobbly BarnKillington, Vermont
People get down at the Barn, in a Vermont hippie meets New York divorcée kind of way.