Downhill drag. Remarkable restaurants. Sensational scenery. Pristine piste. (What’s “piste,” you ask? It rhymes with “beast,” and it’s a European term for groomed run or slope.) The aforementioned words are just a few that paint the picture of the legendary and historic ski town, Aspen. And we can’t forget one of its most well-known events—Aspen Gay Ski Week.
Aspen Gay Ski Week (AGSW), the nation’s largest and oldest gay ski event, returns for its 43rd year—from January 12-19, 2020—welcoming an expected 5,000 attendees.
“The week’s events are Aspen OUT’s largest annual fundraiser which generates the funds to grant local, regional, and national organizations that provide support to the LGBT community,” commented Kevin McManamon, executive director of the organization. “In 2019, AspenOUT granted over $50,000 to 13 organizations, as well as scholarships to graduating seniors in the Roaring Fork Valley area.”
AGSW presents a not-to-be-forgotten 43rd year—with dance parties to the popular après-ski events, perfect for unwinding after a vigorous day on the slopes. Each afternoon during Aspen Gay Ski Week, Limelight Hotel is the site for après-ski parties from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. Attracting up to 1,000 daily, these events feature DJ entertainment, free gifts from sponsors, a hospitality suite, a heated pool, and two hot tubs.
On Friday afternoon, thousands gather to view the popular Downhill Costume Competition. Returning as the event’s emcee, Sister Helen Holy will lead a panel of judges as participants ski down Aspen Mountain in riotous costumes.
“What’s incredible to see is that the whole city of Aspen and visitors come to watch the downhill competition,” remarked Jim Guttau, spokesperson for Aspen Gay Ski Week. “We are so fortunate to have a progressively-minded city like Aspen as our host. Rainbow flags decorate the light poles throughout the city to welcome everyone.”
What if you don’t ski or snowboard but still want to be in on the fun?
“Many of our guests don’t ski, but there’s something for everyone in Aspen—from shopping to fine dining to our nightly parties,” commented Pamela Herr, the event’s executive producer.
These nightly events include an opening cocktail reception on Sunday, January 12 at the all-new W Hotel Aspen—in its Living Room lounge, a chic, slopeside gathering place with bespoke beverages. On Tuesday night, Mariam T, described as “San Diego’s crankiest drag queen,” hosts Drag Queen Bingo at the new saloon, Silver City, starting at 8:30 p.m.
Each night, AGSW hosts a Friendship Dinner at different restaurants, allowing attendees to dine together. On Wednesday, Ellina hosts an event just for the ladies, guaranteed to delight the taste buds with some of the city’s best cuisine and wine selections. Also on Wednesday night, Caribou Club, Aspen’s premier private club, is opening its doors to Aspen Gay Ski Week for a night of dancing and fundraising; each year, AspenOUT partners with a LGBTQ non-profit organization at this club, famous for celebrity sightings.
Live music venue Belly Up will host an uproarious, double-header comedy show with Julie Goldman and Alec Mapa on Thursday night, followed by DJ entertainment from Guy Scheiman.
Julie Goldman wowed Aspen Gay Ski Week in 2018 with her tales of gay cruise elevator shenanigans and #metoo missed opportunities. This year, she makes her triumphant return (and brings her podcast with her). Julie is the butch-but-vulnerable recipient of Larry’s door-holding gender confusion on Curb Your Enthusiasm, co-hosts Dumb Gay Politics with Brandy Howard, has lounged on The People’s Couch, and is the former co-host of Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules After Show.
Alec Mapa is “America’s Gay Asian Sweetheart” who has literally done it all. He guest-starred on Friends, Seinfeld, NYPD Blue, and Melrose Place before becoming the first network-television gay Asian series regular in CBS’ Some of My Best Friends. His critically-acclaimed I Remember Mapa played to sold-out audiences all over the world, and he starred on Broadway in M Butterfly.
With official remixes as massive club anthems with big bass lines, DJ Guy Scheiman, based in Tel Aviv, will bring his high-energy sound that combines house, progressive, tribal, and tech house to the dance floor. Over the past decade, Scheiman has amassed an impressive roster of club and festival appearances over three continents, including Amsterdam Pride, Revolution in Rio (Brazil), Icon Shanghai, and Music Fest in Mexico City.
Friday night’s White Party is one not to be missed, as guests take gondolas up to Sundeck at the summit of Aspen Mountain. There, at 11,000 feet, guests can dance to music by DJ Blacklow on top of the world until 2 a.m. Based in Los Angeles, DJ Blacklow (Jeremy Blacklow) grew up inspired by house music of the 90s; his sound is a mixture of classic house, progressive house, tech house, and tribal house. Blacklow headlined eight years in a row at Halloweenie in Los Angeles, Halloween New Orleans (HNO) for four years, White Party Palm Springs, Pride New York City, and many more locations around the world.
The week culminates on Saturday night with the infamous pool party hosted by Aspen Recreation Center. Welcoming nearly 1,000 guests, the event features DJs, dancing, hot tubs, water slides, a lazy river, and open bars.
Limelight Hotel will act as the host hotel once again, offering an outdoor pool and hot tubs, an expansive continental breakfast and a complimentary shuttle. Guests can take advantage of Aspen Gay Ski Week’s discounted lift tickets on the four mountains of Aspen.
“We have so many guests from the around the world that return year after year,” commented Herr. “We have been a model for other gay ski weeks since our inception, and we are unique in that we are a fundraiser. There are many gay ski weeks now, but few raise money for nonprofits. AspenOUT not only supports local anti-bullying and tolerance programs, it also has supported numerous national organizations, such as Point Foundation, Matthew Shepard Foundation, and You Can Play Foundation.”
To learn more about Aspen Gay Ski Week, lodging and lift tickets, visit gayskiweek.com.