Sean Beckwith: Snowmass After Dark
September 18, 2018
Welcome to Snowmass After Dark, a place where you get a parking spot but not a bar stool to watch football before 3 p.m. The ostensibly family-friendly resort village turns into a weekend-only resort in September before becoming a life-sized walking-mall model until ski season. For all of the fuss over everything — from pot shops to the bathroom tile at Base Village — the town seems to be OK being irrelevant during potential busy times in order to keep the residents happy and the unsavory element away.
What if, though, the town took a heel turn. Instead of trying to be the Wilson to Aspen's Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor, they acted more like Tim "The Cocaine Dealer" Allen. Instead of yelling, "Think of the children," they yelled, "Think of the money." What if they ripped the freak flag from its Gucci-designed flagpole in Aspen and flew it high atop Club Commons?
The only way to make all of this new development worthwhile is to utilize it. Limelight in Snowmass is building a climbing wall, which will double as exercise and as a vantage point to scout empty patios for a drink afterward. Fake rocks and a pizza don't make a community center, but you know what will definitely attract people? Casinos. "Twisted" your knee skiing? No problem, take a seat at the tables. As far as I can tell there's minimal environmental impact from a few decks of cards. The town is already ground zero for Mardi Gras and spring break and, with a few more ticks on the fun dial, could capitalize on the best part of the worst part of society.
Instead of trying to complement Aspen, Snowmass should compete with it. Let Aspen have the Food & Wine Classic because Snowmass is bringing the Cheetos and Cheeba Carnival to town with enough bongs and Birkenstocks to give Mayor Markey Butler a panic attack.
What's the point of building all of this development if the only time locals use it is when they remember "Oh, hey, we could go to the new Limelight," before realizing it offers the same fare you can get in Aspen. The mall is there but I couldn't find a place to watch football before 3 p.m. even with Cidermass, Septemberfest and the hot air balloon festival in full effect a couple of weeks ago.
The family-friendliness of Snowmass has the town in a rear-naked choke but the hand wringing isn't stopping. The odds of any of what I proposed happening is zero, but what if a marijuana organization wants to put on an event in town? Snowmass has the space and infrastructure to do so in the summer, especially.
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The backlash would be astronomical. I can see the letters to the editor headlines now: "Satan seeps into Snowmass," "The delight of the darkside: Devil's lettuce takes over Snowmass" and "Hippies: An epidemic." This isn't entirely about marijuana; it's more about acknowledging this facade of wholesomeness. There are bras and panties right off the Village Express lift. The Venga Venga patio looks like a scene out of "Bad Moms" during apres. Church groups and families alone aren't enough to vindicate the Base Village development, just like this op-ed isn't going to spontaneously combust — even though the people, who want both to happen, want it very bad.
If you're willing to spend millions of dollars on Base Village, wouldn't you want some aspect of enjoyment for adults without children beyond the three times a year when Base Camp is popping? Those in charge surely know that bars remain open after kids go to sleep. Despite popular opinion, sunset is not the formal curfew of Snowmass. No one is advocating for casinos and strip clubs — well not realistically, at least — but some restaurants and bars in Snowmass might like a little business past 9 p.m.
One of the most popular acts in Snowmass during ski season is magician Doc Eason at the Stonebridge Inn. I know because guests constantly ask me about him. Grown folks, desperate for something to do, laud his adult-friendly routine that comes out after children are put to bed. While he's fantastic for parents handcuffed to the hotel lobby, magic isn't exactly catnip for young people.
Dinner and a movie is impossible in Snowmass as currently constructed. East West Partners, the developers and operators of Building 6 in Base Village, proposed an exhibit for fossils; rows of theater seating for concerts, speakers and movies; and a restaurant and bar space on its property. That, along with the new Limelight, is seemingly a step in the right direction.
It will be interesting to see how the space is used. Will there be any effort to create this alleged community space or will it be a multimillion-dollar, misguided monument to family values? Because there's more than just families in a community and it's hard to turn a profit on chicken fingers and Cherry Cokes.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times and a front desk attendant in Snowmass. Reach him at email@example.com.