Vannin’ is a documentary that revolves around the van enthusiast subculture that catapulted to its fame in the ‘70s. We get to be a part of the 40th National Truck-In in Elkhorn, WI, for the duration of the doc, where we get to see “vannin’” as a way of life and not just a weekend hobby.
Although the ‘70s saw more craziness at these van gatherings than the more tame and smaller Nationals of today – not as much nudity anymore, but still a few occasional tits here and there and more than ample boozin’ for sure – we clearly see that it’s a tight-knit community of lifers and newbies alike who live for, and in some cases who live in, their vans year-round.
I’d take a hippie van over a car any day, and despite that, I don’t think I’d be a hardcore enthusiast, decking my van with fish tanks and conceiving my kids in the comfort of my good ol’ van. But, for almost everybody at the Nationals, that seems to be the way to go. Vannin’ introduces you to the people that make up contemporary van culture and you start to understand and appreciate their dedication to their lifestyle of choice.
Some were outcasts in school and saw vannin’ as a place where they felt accepted, an environment they could actively participate in and take charge. Some see it as an escape from the everyday life and come to the Nationals to have a good time, appreciate others’ vans and get together with old friends. For others, that’s all they know and have in life but still make the best of it. Plus, it’s hard not to appreciate the “2%-ers” who chose to reject the commercializing of the van movement. It may have decreased gatherings down to the 600s rather than the 6000s at the height of the culture in the ’70s, but at least they keep things authentic.
Vannin’ will be screened as part of CUFF on April 11 at 7:30 p.m.
By Claire Miglionico