By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
Rattlebrain Theater: 1601 Arapahoe St., 720-932-7384. Comic stalwart Rattlebrain Theater is located in the venerated D&F Tower. Audiences shape performances here by shouting out embarrassing or ridiculous scenarios for actors to perform; the in-house troupe's shows are consistently funny, irreverent and, yes, brainy.
Red Monkey: 1920 Market St., 303-383-1941. Wooden chimps in fez hats line the bar at Red Monkey, an upstairs space in the B-52's building. A borderline-tiki decor adds an exotic air to the place, which attracts LoDo club-hoppers, bottle-service junkies and live DJs throughout the week.
Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse: 2027 13th St., Boulder, 303-440-5858. Les bons temps never stop roullez-ing at Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse, which does its best to approximate a Big Easy vibe, right down to the Southern-style folk art that hangs on the walls. On weekends, blues, funk and R&B bands perform for oyster-slurping diners and drinkers.
Rise: 1909 Blake St., 303-383-1909. Palm trees to patio, luscious light work to lounging in beds, liquor everywhere and, oh, yeah, all the music, Rise is Toto-we're-not-in-Cowtown-anymore for the club crowd.
Rock Island: 1614 15th St., 303-572-7625. Giant bugs crawling down the outside of Rock Island make it easy for newcomers to find, while a rootsy, unpretentious feel brings regulars back. The Rock offers dance music plus art exhibitions, live bands and film events for an eclectic mélange of goths, ravers and club kids; the latter group shows up for a weekly sixteen-and-up night on Saturdays.
Round Midnight: 1005 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-442-2176. Boulder smokers, rejoice. Round Midnight easily boasts the most plush, well-appointed smokers' lounge in the city, complete with its own TV. The mirrored parquet stage area/dance floor is non-smoking, but it's only a few steps from the glassed-in huffing cube.
La Rumba: 99 W. 9th Ave., 303-572-8006. With cove lighting illuminating the brushed-steel front and back bars and sweeping color kinetics, La Rumba resembles a liquor-filled laserium. Add diverse nights that cater to the rainbow set as well as hip-hop heads, and this Golden Triangle treasure becomes one hot tamale.
Sambuca Jazz Cafe: 1320 15th St., 303-629-5299. The premium decor, high-class wines and gourmet menu at Sambuca make it hard to believe it's part of a chain from Texas. The jazz acts vary nightly, keeping the calendar filled with top talents, from swing and traditional to sassy and Latin.
Sancho's Broken Arrow: 741 E. Colfax Ave., 303-832-5288. Live bands stake out Sancho's Broken Arrow on Mondays, but jukebox jockeys normally take care of the music. The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and more modern jammers are house favorites in this tie-dyed hippie hangout. The place is packed before and after shows at the Fillmore Auditorium next door; otherwise, the vibe is easygoing, roomy and kind.
Serengeti Nightclub: 1037 Broadway, Denver, 303-534-0222. Although Denver's Serengeti features a different kind of wildlife than its African namesake, there are plenty of exotic breeds here. Westword's pick for Best Gay Bar in the Best of Denver 2004 isn't just for queer eyes, though. The vistas from the varied levels indoor vie with the two outdoor patios for great people-watching, and the screen-dominated dance floor has enough ocular excitement to match the throbbing beats thrilling your ears. Everybody dance now!
Sharp's Roadhouse: 6496 Hwy. 2, Commerce City, 303-288-9292. Worthy of a muscle-bound Patrick Swayze, Sharp's Roadhouse offers a regular weekend roster of (mostly) countrabilly acts. Generous libations and a boot-stompin' dance floor almost guarantee a rootin'-tootin' good time.
Sheabeen Irish Pub: 2300 S. Chambers Rd., Aurora, 303-696-6131. Sheabeen Irish Pub is a Celtic tavern, to be sure; a dark-wood bar, nationalistic flags and a set of bagpipes are on hand to convince any doubters. But the auld-country flavor is subtle -- no shamrocks or leprechauns in the lot -- and the music tends to be acoustic and easy on the ears.
Sing Sing: 1735 19th St., 303-291-0880. A modification on karaoke chaos, Sing Sing is a dueling-piano bar where audience interaction is encouraged and bawdy jokes accompany the familiar songs. Crowd members try to stump the mind-bendingly knowledgable pianists, and they often fail. While this concept can be cringe-inducing, the whole process makes more sense the more one drinks -- not an inexpensive prospect in this LoDo landmark.
Skylark Lounge: 140 S. Broadway, 303-722-7844: Customers who forgot how generous the Skylark's drinks are will be glad for the extra weaving room available in the new locale, and the giant-sized bar is easier to find when the room is spinning. Amateurs in alcohol consumption can use the large booths to conceal how little they're drinking.
Small Circle Imports: 1139 Francis St., Longmont, 303-682-5080. A trace of incense swirls around the racks of eco-friendly clothing at Small Circle Imports, a combo coffee shop and clothing store that occasionally features live world music. The shop lends personality to an otherwise nondescript mini-mall a few blocks from Main Street.
Snake Pit: 608 E. 13th Ave., 303-831-1234. Dance fiends who gravitate to the Snake Pit don't need glam to get down. A minimally adorned interior and mellow vibe make the Capitol Hill club feel more like a rock venue than a disco. Crowds are refreshingly low-profile and non-LoDo-esque, and the music is routinely first-rate.