Words by James Ohara
The Winter Sessions events have been pleasing locals and visitors to Chamonix all season, with massive acts such as Foreign Beggars, Rodney P and Nextmen having rocked the place over the course of the winter. With all this kind of talent to fall back on, the end of season Winter Sessions Weekender was sure to be a storming success. And so, As Iceland exploded over the UK and northern Europe, Cham locals were hyping themselves up for what was set to be one of the sickest party weekends of the year - with ShyFX & Stamina MC, Rodney P, Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee & Wandan, Lazy Habits, Bugz in the Attic and Amsterdam’s J.A.M all billed to blow away Cham Centre’s Le Podium club. If jam packed nights weren’t enough, Winter Sessions was also playing host to two days of chilled mountain action with live art from For Boarders By Boarders, BBQs, DJs, speed riders, wingsuit action and The Snow Jam comp for all comers.
As Whitelines arrived on Friday evening, news was rolling across the alps of grounded planes, guests stranded and, crucially, artists stuck in the UK, un-able to make it through the cloud of volcanic gash. But after a good afternoon session of tunes, fun and games (including high altitude ping pong battle and cake bake off) on the mountain none of this chaos seemed to be fazing the party goers. Meanwhile, the organisers spent the evening running around re-arranging artists and line-ups for maximum effect. With nothing to be done about the flights of headline acts such as Shy FX and Rodney P, the only way forward was to perform some serious damage limitation - and the smiles on the faces of all at Le Podium showed that it was being done with good effect. Two rooms were pumping out a variety of d’n’b, dubstep, hiphop, tech house, minimal and breaks to delight and please the assembled masses. The place was totally packed out and the party continued till the wee hours.
The following day kicked off with the Winter Sessions Snow Jam with everyone getting involved. There were also demos from the likes of Homies’ crew member Laurent Gougain. The men’s prize went to Michael J. Locke whose runs consisted of some tasty rodeo 5s and 7s, a clean assortment of spins and gap to 50-50 to nollie frontflip out on the DC gap box. As for the women it was local lady Anna Bartlett who rode out the day in a tiger outfit and still managed to bust out big front and back 5s, a front 7 and massively stylish back 1s, which also earned her the Winter Sessions rider of the day.
As the jam wound down, Laurent and friends started throwing down over the Hollywood placed kicker in front of the terrace where the assembled masses were chilling to the sounds of the Winter Sessions DJs on the Mountain stage. Mid afternoon the ridiculous aerial antics of the Chamonix air show kicked off overhead, with speed riders (think paragliding but at 80 mph with skis skimming the mountain) and wingsuit divers gliding past the collective “ooh", “aah" and “holy shit!" exclamations of the crowd.
The mountain cleared and everybody headed down for the fancy dress après ski BBQ down in Cham Centre’s Rue des Moulins - where all enjoyed a few more beers and some tasty munch before getting geared up for that evenings festivities.
Cut to Le Podium at midnight and the party is getting into full swing. Vodka roulette is having the desired effect in the back room, the charity kissing booth is doing a fair trade and all are dressed to the nines in their finest outlandishness. Its the Winter Sessions Trash Ball and the sound systems are blasting out and once again Chamonix had turned out to show its face and make the main night party going off with a bang. And god damn did it go off!
By the closing party on Sunday night, no-one had a single bad word to say about the way that the weekend had gone, despite all the ash-related shenanigans. An incredible vibe had preceded all else, and the event had massive local support from seasonnaires and Compagnie du Mont Blanc as well as all the other sponsors. The massive names being stranded in the UK had turned out to be little more than a minor hiccup, and it was far from everyone’s minds as the final toasts went around at the end of the Sunday night. If this was the outcome when the Iceland explosion had stopped the headliners arriving, then we can pretty safely say that this festival has massive potential. We look forward to watching it grow.