Traditionally celebrated on November 2, El Día de los Muertos -- the Day of the Dead observed by Hispanic cultures -- is actually spread out over a period of days that begins on October 27. Each day represents different categories of the deceased, from ancient Aztec warriors to lost babes-in-arms. But the best and last fiesta is reserved for departed family members whose spirits are welcomed by the living with food, drink and music. It's a beautiful custom we can all appreciate. Locally, this year's celebration spreads to Boulder and back again, when Denver's Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, 772 Santa Fe Drive, and the CU Museum of Natural History, 15th and Broadway in Boulder, team up for Day of the Dead activities. Today at 6 p.m., the museum hosts an opening reception for a show of altars created by community members (which continues through November 3); it's followed at 7 by a free lecture on skeletal symbolism.
On Saturday, a family celebration (also free) will include scavenger hunts, sugar-skull-decorating workshops for kids, storytelling and more, from 1 to 5 p.m. On November 2, the celebration picks up in Denver with a procession at 5:30 p.m. from the Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, to CHAC, where the gallery's annual show of altars and other Day of the Dead artwork will be on display. Additional events, including a First Friday opening with Aztec dancers, an evening with storyteller Angel Vigil and two dance performances, continue at the gallery throughout November. For details, call 303-571-0440 or log on to www.chacweb.org. For information about the CU Museum, call 303-492-6892.
Friday, October 29
And you always thought you were supposed to get dressed up for Halloween! It's exactly the opposite at two of the region's most popular adults-only Halloween bashes, where the costumes tend to be more scanty than scary. In Boulder, the Exotica Erotica Ball, which raises funds for the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, returns to the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street. This year's version boasts a sensual "Back to the Garden" theme. The skin jam, hosted by sexy store Fascinations, features such interactive vignettes as the Garden of Infernal Fruit, Garden of Erotic Sleep Suites, and Garden of Flower Power Love and Peace, along with nearly naked Garden du Soil performers, DJ dancing, wild media-art projections, cage dancers and oooh, yes, yes, yes...more. The ball begins at 9 p.m.; for tickets, $50-$63, call 303-786-7030 or log on to www.bouldertheater.com. The theme is also lighter this year at the Victorian and Fetish Ball in Denver, described by promoters as more of a "feather and ice" event than the usual leather-and-whips affair. Voted the "Best Place to See a Politician in Bondage" by Westword last spring (what are the chances of that happening two days before the election?), this costume-mandatory dance party has something for everyone: sensual gymnasts, a male revue, a Japanese bondage show, body calligraphy, the ooky-spooky human pierced corset and more. The fetish fete starts at 9 p.m. at the Church, 1160 Lincoln Street; admission ranges from $20 to $75. Reserve tickets online at www.kevinlarsonpresents. com.
Saturday, October 30
Little ghouls and goblins can welcome the witching hour this weekend in a zillion ways, and not all of them require knocking on doors and begging for food. Here are a few events we've pulled out of our hats: Frankenstein was really just an overgrown school science project, when you think about it, which makes today's Super Cool Science event at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, a perfect seasonal fit. Combining live demonstrations, hands-on science workshops, activity tables, weather-balloon launches and the like with a Halloween maze and more, it runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. Call 303-497-1185 or go to www.ucar.edu. Kids not ready for truly creepy haunted houses can get a clean, well-lighted thrill at the Reinke Brothers Haunted Mansion, 5663 South Prince Street, Littleton, where special children's tours are conducted from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and tomorrow. Non-scary tours are $3 to $4.50; call 303-795-5006. At the Southglenn Mall, University Boulevard and Arapahoe Road in Centennial, there's Boo-ville, a bouncy blow-up haunted house and imagination station with a spooky -- but not too -- theme, for kids ages one to nine. It's open today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; admission is $7.95 ($6.95 with a canned-food donation) and free for adults. Call 720-261-0570 or log on to www.booville. com. Lastly, AllGolf at Kennedy golf course, 10500 East Hampden Avenue, will host free Haunted Castle Trick-or-Treat Mini Golf for sportin' tykes ages twelve and under, today from 4 to 7 p.m., with eighteen holes and goodies. Call 303-755-0105 or visit www.allgolf.com/locations/kennedy.html.
Sunday, October 31
Children of all ages, species and planets of origin won't want to miss the return of the Star Wars X-Wing Fighter Tour, today from noon to 5 p.m. at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum, 7711 East Academy Parkway, on the former Lowry Air Force Base. It's the real deal, straight from Lucasfilm, but because it's Halloween, expect a zillion little droids, princesses, bad guys and heroes to be running around everywhere, gathering treats and posing for pictures with Darth Vader and his storm troopers, who ostensibly will be there to guard their craft. Costume contests are planned for both Star Wars and other Halloween dress; all events are free with museum admission, $4 to $6 (members and children under six admitted free). For more information, call 303-360-5360 or log on to www.wingsmuseum.org.
Monday, November 1
Fans of bluegrass and klezmer music will be treated to a jewel of a concert in the foothills, when the Andy Statman Trio performs at the Congregation Beth Evergreen Synagogue, 2981 Bergen Peak Drive in Evergreen, tonight at 7:15 p.m. A mandolinist and clarinetist, Statman excels in both genres, and he's not disinclined to blend the traditions with jazz structures. There's just nothing like a little improvisational high-lonesome Jewish dance music to make you feel all right. Statman appears with bassist Jim Whitney and percussionist Larry Eagle; to reserve tickets, $10 in advance ($15 at the door), call 303-670-8293.
Tuesday, November 2
You waited in line to do your civic duty: Now it's time to feel good about it, regardless of the results. And even if you're an early voter who got the task out of the way days ago, you still deserve a pat on the back. While many folks will spend election night glued to their televisions, biting fingernails and quivering with fear and/or glee at every new report, there are places, including your favorite bar, where you can do so in camaraderie with friends or perfect strangers. For highbrows, the CU-Boulder College of Music's Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony and CU voice instructor Patrick Mason will present an Election Day Concert of poetry and music reflecting the American spirit, in Macky Auditorium. The evening will include periodic election updates. Admission is free, and weeping is allowed; call 303-492-8008 or go to www.colorado.edu/music. And if you just want to kick up your heels and dance the night away, there's a free Ballot Bash '04 at the Soiled Dove, 1949 Market Street, that begins after the polls close. Brethren Fast, Wendy Woo, Orion's Room and others will provide the tunes in between the snippets of ongoing election coverage; all you have to do is present your "I Voted" sticker, and you're in. Call 303-299-0100.
Wednesday, November 3
This fright show comes a few days too late for Halloween, but what the heck. Marilyn Manson, who's creepy but very smart, might actually be just the thing for the election aftermath. After all, who knows on which side the chads will be hanging this year? Manson's Against All Gods tour paints an ugly picture of the universe tonight at 7 p.m. at the Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson Street; for tickets, $32.50 to $35, call 303-830-TIXS or visit www.fillmoreauditorium.com.