Seeking signs of nightlife

'Bumming' it at the 'boat II: The social scene or the lack thereof

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Editors note: This is the second in a four-part series on the lives of four "ski bums" in Steamboat. This series focuses on the experiences four Australians encounter during their stay here, providing an insight to how they interact with the community and how the community interacts with them. The first story appeared Jan. 13 and focused on their first impressions of Steamboat. The story that follows looks at their social lives since their arrival.

In the eyes of four young Australian men who have come to Steamboat to work the ski season, the town carries characteristics often afforded Disneyland.

It's a great place to visit, they said, but they wouldn't want to live here.

The initial mystique of living in an American ski resort has faded into the daily grind for Chris Crea, Anthony Martin, Dave Cook and Johnny McGirr, who hail from the North Shore of Sydney, Australia.

The men, who are all 23, say a lack of people their own age and the hit-and-miss nightlife that Steamboat offers leaves much to be desired.

The nightlife isn't what they expected but they say they understand now that local bars should accommodate local people.

"I'm just craving a night club," Crea said.

Levelz has been their favorite nightclub but it's much smaller than the types of clubs they imagined the town would have before they arrived. Crea said he enjoyed a recent performance by Merl Saunders and they all enjoyed DJ Harry and Cross Canadian Ragweed.

But for the most part, working 10-hour days in the cold keeps the men homebound many nights. They often play host to an assortment of visitors who stop by for some laughs.

They've created a mini-Australia with their new friends in the Walton Pond apartment complex, Crea said.

A group of Australians who live above the men in the same building have given Martin, Crea, McGirr and Cook a home away from home.

"I think we're starting to make some really good friends here friends for life, friends forever," Cook said. "It's like an extended family."

Crea said he thinks people in Steamboat are accustomed to Australians living here for the winter every year so locals aren't impressed with their Aussie accents and mannerisms.

"Outside of Steamboat, people are very intrigued by Australians," Crea said at their apartment Tuesday night.

McGirr said he was told before he came that he would end up hanging out with more Australians than he realized. Crea said he hoped to meet more Americans.

The quartet got their chance to expand their American horizons during a recent weekend trip to Boulder.

"It was what we expected of America," Martin said of the university town.

Boulder had more women, more young people and a scene that impressed them.

They were welcomed into fraternity and sorority houses for parties.

The girls in Steamboat that they've become good friends with are simply that, they said. "We don't find them appealing because we're around them all the time," Crea said.

McGirr and Martin, who have girlfriends at home, say they have not strayed from their commitments.

"I sent her a Valentine (Tuesday) and a Teddy bear with my nametag on it," McGirr said.

One of the best days for the men was Jan. 26 Australia Day.

Covered in fake Australian flag tattoos and getting rowdy at the Bear River Bar & Grill, the four showed off their loyalty to their homeland.

Australia Day celebrates the first European settlement at Sydney Cove when Captain Arthur Phillip raised the British flag in 1788.

Captain Cook also is recognized for discovering the east coast of Australia in 1770.

"We were bloody obnoxious," McGirr said. "But it was just about being patriotic and loving the country."

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