The US Department of Justice, Wikipedia, and almost everyone else, defines a gang as an organized group of people that engage in criminal behavior. However, in this instance, I like to think Miriam-Webster’s second definition fits more appropriately:
“group: such as
1: a group of persons working together
2: a group of persons working to unlawful or antisocial ends; especially: a band of antisocial adolescents”
In her 2016 article “Gang Involvement as a Means to Satisfy Basic Needs” Laina Sonterblum from the Steinhardt Department of Applied Psychology at NYU uses Abraham Maslow’s 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” to argue that people join gangs (or crews) as a means to satisfy five basic human needs: psychological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs.
Now I’m no Ziggy Freud over here but I do know humans are group-minded creatures. We join groups to satisfy our evolutionary need for survival and security. Our ancestors joined groups for hunting and defense. My experience defines a ‘gang’ simply as a group of people who, through the creation, organization and establishment of a crew, share a common identity or belief system. Years ago on the mean streets of Halifax, Nova Scotia, a few others and myself formed a gang of like-minded outcasts that enjoyed snowboarding in the streets and terrorizing our local ski hills. But, we didn’t call ourselves a gang. Perhaps it was because we weren’t interested in criminal exploits (although trespassing to hit a handrail on your snowboard was fairly common), but we referred to ourselves as a “crew” instead. If you’re familiar with subcultures of any type the concept of the “crew” is very common. In the early days of hip-hop culture, crews were everything. You had rap crews, breakdance crews and spray paint or “bombing” crews. In skateboarding you have crews like the Z-Boys and Barrier Kult. Even Vegas crooners had their own crew with The Rat Pack. And if Vegas had its own famous crew of personalities, than you know Revelstoke has at least a few.
Pussies On Planks:
An all-girl crew of bad-ass shredders, rippers and climbers who stick it to the man by ditching their clothes and strapping into their boards, skis and climbing harnesses. They consist of: Tamsin Both, Nina Lindstrom, Emily Ernst, Leanne Yarrow, Sarah Kypers, Tegan Dean, Lindsay Jakus, Genevieve King, Margret Lynch, Kate Roberts, Lindsay Craig, Jess Leahey, Jana Scott and their influences include Shane McConkey and a borderline obsessive love of cats. Their notable accomplishments include skiing Brown Shorts without their shorts, or anything else, twice. If you want to get into the crew you’ve got to be ready to “jam out with your clam out.” Keep an eye out for kitten stickers and an edit dropping this winter. “Skiing naked is very empowering. It’s not about showing off or looking for attention, it’s about feeling confident in our own skin as women and embracing our bodies. There are many different body types and we love them all! The POP is about not taking yourself to seriously, being free and being yourself!” —Tamsin Both, best dancer in the crew as long as it’s James Brown and there is money on the line.
Instagram: Yes. @pussiesonplanks
Merch: Sort of.
The Acres is less a crew and more a run-down farm on the outskirts of town. But that run down farm is home to some of the most talented filmers, editors, skiers and sledders in this fair town. Their idea is to focus on making videos and movies that showcase skiing, snowboarding and sledding. Consisting of Kaleb Weston and Ty “Spoons” Spooner on cameras, Jakey-Babes Teuton on skis (sometimes), snowboard (sometimes) and sled (always, even when there’s no snow), Vinzenz Keller on skis and Jordy Kidner on skis. This young crew lives together, rides together and somehow survives without Internet together. Their influences consist of working regular jobs, “gettin’ no money from no one” and sledding. Last year their web series received wide support from the skiing community and this year their first film, “Homestead” just received a nomination for best cinematography and best editing at the International Freeski Film Festival (IF3) in Montreal. Currently it’s hard to say what exactly their plans for the future are other than paying their power and Internet bills, sprucing up their kitchen, and getting their plumbing dialed. If they do manage to film more backcountry action you can bet your sweet kiester it’s going to be good.
Instagram: Yes @the.acres
Maybe the closest thing Revelstoke actually has to a gang of hoodlums, Wig Party embodies a style reminiscent of old hip-hop and skate crews: shooting dice in alley ways, giving each other tattoos in wrecked motel rooms by candlelight and drankin’ 40s from the bottle. Whenever you see their telltale symbol, a giant faceless purple Afro wig, one can’t help but think of Soul Train on snow. This snowboard and skate crew of largely Manitoban transplants focuses on good times instead of, say, long times and “drinking until he/she looks better.” You can find them on the slushy streets or on the ski hill and their video edits remind you of old Wildcat movies and make you wish you still had a World Industries snowboard to ride on a spring day. Wig Party consists of: Jordie Morris, Nathan Rey, Gordo Sansom, Lucas Robinson, Tom-O, Vee, Tjasse & Chance Martens, Bryce “Obie” Harrison, Gatzke, Ben Harries, Pretty Boy Cerrano, Knapper, Tony T, Valcourt, Colin Shoechuk, Nick Myk and Slurms McGee. When they aren’t boarding you can find half of them in the Village Idiot kitchen and the other half at the mill. Their notable achievements include Gordo Samson breaking the Brandon, Manitoba chicken wing eating record on his nineteenth birthday with 102 chicken wings in one sitting — truly a great feat of endurance and athleticism. As far as the future goes, we here at the Mountaineer can only imagine there will be some sort of dance battle between Tamsin Both of rival crew Pussies on Planks and Jordie Morris of Wig Party.
(Full Disclosure: I live with one of the owners of WASTED YOUTH and have contributed in the past to their movies and other media exploits, usually at my own misfortune.)
Probably the loosest definition of a crew, we at the Mountaineer would be remiss not to mention Revelstoke’s snowboard crew from Hell. Although WASTED YOUTH actually operates closer to a crew of rowdy brigands on the high seas, they are actually an apparel company, which began in 2002. All the same they have risen to notoriety in the snowboard scene as a crew of metal-headed, rough rednecks known for their raw, no f’s given, DIY style, focusing almost entirely on backcountry big mountain snowboarding. WASTED YOUTH consists of: Sean “Sinner” Barrett, Christopher “Blood Money Son” Curran, Taylor “Texas Ranger” Roberts, Dozer, Twan, Keith “Big Sexy” Martin, Sebastian Grondin, Chris “Wheel House” Boyd, and a long, long list of hanger-on-ers. You can find them anywhere from Boulder Mountain to any dark dangerous back alley in between. Their notable accomplishments include their first full-length snowboard movie “WASTED YOUTH: The Movie” and their second full-length snowboard movie “WASTED YOUTH: The Sequel,” both two-year projects that have received wide critical acclaim throughout the snowboard industry in the Kootenay-Columbia region. Their plans for the future consist only of “getting this WASTED YOUTH thing going” and seeing if there is any money to be made in the karaoke industry.
Merch: Stickers, Hoodies, T-shirts, muscle shirts, hats.
This article first appeared in the December, 2017 print issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.