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It’s 1977 and the idealistic message of the hippie counter-culture has played a decade long game of telephone with America’s youth. Still searching for freedom and community in a post Vietnam world, groups of young people took to the open roads in shag-carpeted custom vans. They called themselves “vanners” and their culture was a strange cocktail of irreverence and hedonism.

On the south side of Chicago, the van proved the perfect escape vehicle from the smog of the steel mills and refineries. It was here that a van club called Midwest Vans Ltd. was born. On Memorial Day weekend in 1977, these blue collar outcasts set out to build their own personal utopia, free of rules and restrictions. They erected a ramshackle resort town around a small pond and called it “Sleeze Lake”. When over 20,000 people showed up to the party, all bets

were off! Set among the foggy memories and ephemera of subculture lost to time, Sleeze Lake tells the story of Midwest Vans LTD and the biggest party you’ve never heard of.

the film
The facts
The mission


* 5000+ Vans

* 15000+ Attendees

Campground Owner Jailed

* Undercover Cops

* 1 Broken Neck

* All Night Boogie

* Worlds Largest Kazoo Band

* Memorial Day 1977

* 1 Amphivan

* 1 Sleezy Resort Town 


At its heart, “Sleeze Lake” is a big fish story; the type that perhaps your weird uncle would tell at a family dinner after a few cocktails. 

It’s simultaneously nostalgic and somewhat unbelievable.

This film presents a unique and nearly lost subculture that was born out of lower class blue collar life in South Chicago and other places along America’s rust belt. Within the film’s story there lies a certain creativity and do-it-yourself attitude that resonates with anyone who has ever

found themselves on the outside of life, culture and “the norm”.


In a modern era so connected by technology and manufactured culture, many long to be part of the proverbial “party”. Here we present a story of those who bucked the system and made their own party and culture. 40 years later and they still love it. 

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