By Noah Hubbell
By Leslie Simon
By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Inkoo Kang
By Dave Herrerra
By Josiah M. Hesse
Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom: 2637 Welton St., 303-297-1772. The latest in a group of family-owned venues designed with the discerning Deadhead in mind, Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom is a mixture of glam and jam. Housed in the former Casino Cabaret in the Five Points neighborhood, the large room hosts well-known local hippie-esque artists normally seen on the festival circuit.
El Chapultepec: 1962 Market St., 303-295-9126. Spicy, satisfying and hot describes the Mexican food at El Chapultepec, as well as the live jazz that emanates from the closet-sized room every night of the week. Easily Denver's most authentic jazz club, the ´pec hosts the city's finest players and tightest combos, who swing for shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, especially on weekends. The music leans to the traditional, and so do the tastes of purists who show up to listen in this dim, vintage gem.
Charlie Brown's Bar and Grill: 980 Grant St., 303-860-1655. A corner piano bar in Charlie Brown's Bar and Grill is where locals drop by to offer sauced renditions of Tin Pan Alley songs or just consume strong cocktails. Once favored by Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, Charlie's now draws one of Denver's most diverse crowds, including art students, career drinkers and singers who turn up for karaoke.
Chautauqua Dining Hall: 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder, 303-440-3776. Chautauquas -- cultural and self-improvement centers -- were hot properties in the nineteenth century, but only three remain in the entire country, including the Boulder Chautauqua, founded in 1898. The 26-acre campus is centered on a grand Victorian dining hall, featuring great views of the Flatirons, a menu of American standards and live jazz Tuesdays through Sundays.
Cheers:301 Main St., Longmont, 303-651-0580. Yes, this local franchise of a national chain does resemble the other Cheers, but the crowd is more likely to be Longmont toasted than Boston tony. Rock, jazz and acoustic offerings plump up the calendar in the rough-around-the-edges tavern, which otherwise revolves around drinking.
The Church: 1160 Lincoln St., 303-832-3528. Stained-glass windows and hundreds of candles spread throughout the Church suggest a pious vibe, but the congregation is as mixed as they come. The roomy Lincoln Street mainstay draws globally hailed DJs, local residents, retro-lovers, even the under-21 set: Sections of the bar are open to those eighteen and up. A rooftop patio affords one of the city's best views.
Climax Lounge:2217 Welton St., 303-292-5483. The Climax Lounge has a broad vision. By mixing high and low, the Five Points club has hosted theatrical performances alongside pinball competitions and performances from a wide range of local and national artists. There's a full arcade for game lovers, too.
Club 156: CU-Boulder UMC, Broadway & Euclid, Boulder, 303-492-8619. There's a bizarre little world in the bowels of the UMC, the University of Colorado's student center, now that Club 156's reopened after a two-year hiatus. Punk and indie-rock bands dominate the stage in this all-ages, smoke-free space, located right next door to a bowling alley.
Club Corner: 6551 W. 44th Ave., Wheat Ridge, 303-463-9969. A neon confection in no-man's-land Wheat Ridge, Club Corner tries hard to be Denver's Coyote Ugly, but the ceiling over the bar is just too low for women to dance under. Barkeeps make do by stapling up the unmentionables that female patrons turn over in exchange for a free drink and an earful of live country music.
Club Dream: 3500 Walnut St., 303-863-7326. Also called Factory of Dreams, Club Dream is just that: a dream for both DJ and dancer. With one DJ working on the building's construction and beautiful murals hand-painted by another, this heaven of a nightspot boasts a smart layout with a spacious floor area for getting into the luscious grooves that are guaranteed for both the gay and straight clientele.
Club Purple: 1523 Market St., 303-607-9209. The best view at Club Purple is found by looking up: A glass floor on the second level provides an intimate view of the beautiful people who gather to hear DJs spin techno and hip-hop. The large club boasts three bars and a private, full-service basement that's available to rent for parties.
Club Ra: 1111 Lincoln St., 303-861-2225. Tobacconist heaven meets Egyptian afterlife at Club (Amon) Ra, the conjoined twin of a Mideast eatery, the Pharaoh Lounge. Belly dancers will bring you a hookah full of your selected blend, while the sun god namesake plus a variety of beats keep the dance floor hot all night.
Club Sky: 1520 20th St., 303-298-7625. Screens are everywhere -- even under your feet -- in this club for the Coors Field crowd. Downstairs is family-friendly; upstairs is for dancing and drinking. The well-buffed floor is usually packed with upwardly mobile twenty-somethings moving to the music and looking to score.
Comedy Works: 1226 15th St., 303-595-3637. The location is underground, but the acts the Comedy Works presents aren't. The cavernous and oft-cramped room hosts many of the comics who regularly cozy up to Jay, Dave and Conan, as well as local standup guys and gals. The setting isn't for the claustrophobic -- tables are shoved together to maximize the laughter-decibel level -- and the drinks aren't cheap. But the laughs aren't, either.