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Desperately in need of a nightcap, I pop in to the Satellite Bar (308 East Colfax Avenue), which has been open for about three weeks now. Things are a little slow, but hey, it's around midnight the night after the Fourth. Instead of watching skaters on half-pipe ramps on the flat-screen TVs, I start chatting with Scooter, the bartender. Metal is playing on the XM satellite radio, and when Pantera's "Heresy" comes on, Scooter (not to be confused with Love Me Destroyer's Scooter James) cranks it up and says he was a big fan of Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell. He tells me how he was at a GWAR show at the Fillmore the night of December 8, 2004, the night Dimebag was killed in Ohio by a crazed fan who jumped on stage and shot the guitarist and a few people in the crowd. GWAR paid tribute to Dimebag by coming out on stage without their trademark, horror-film-inspired costumes and playing a few Pantera tunes.

Sitting at the bar, I try to imagine what this place was like when it was the Congress Lounge, which I'd walked by many times after buying vinyl or CDs at Jerry's Record Exchange or looking for music and film books at Capitol Hill Books. I can usually handle a hard-core dive; I've endured the scummiest shitholes of New York's East Village and Lower East Side, where I've seen people shoot heroin in bathrooms, one guy bite another guy's nose, and hell, I once even sat next to a gal whose armpits smelled like moldy wet socks and sausage pizza. But I could never muster up the courage to step foot inside the Congress Lounge. Scooter says he'd been in the Congress a few times and it was pretty rough, which I'd guess is probably an understatement from the way he says it. I want to tell him, "Okay, you're more of a man than me" — but what guy wants to admit that? Anyway, I'm left with the clear impression that the Satellite is a major improvement over the Congress.

Just as I'm downing the last of my Bud, five girls come in. One of them happens to be Anika from Hemi Cuda, which I think is pretty cool. And as it turns out, Karen Cuda happens to bartend at the Satellite on Sunday nights. Oh, yeah, and Tyson Murray of the Railbenders is here on Tuesdays nights. But back to the girls: Two of them are bartenders at the Goosetown Tavern (3242 East Colfax Avenue), an ideal spot to grab drinks before and after shows at the Bluebird Theater, across the street.

While the girls only last a round of shots at the Satellite, I run into them about ten minutes later a few doors down at the Red Room (320 East Colfax Avenue), which is now owned by the same folks who own the Satellite. (It was once part of John Hickenlooper's empire before he became mayor.) There's a bit more action here — but then again, the place is a lot bigger and swankier than the Satellite. It's last call, and before everyone leaves, I spy a guy taking off a girl's shoe and giving her toes a good suck. Then another guy wants to try. But that's not all, folks. The gal, who's wearing a halter top, lifts up her arm, and the first dude gives her armpit a good, slow lick. Seriously.

Suddenly I get the urge to eat a sausage pizza.

Club scout: Tempa Singer moved her Tantrums Jam (named Westword's Best All Comers Jam in the Best of Denver 2007) from Kokopelli's(2233 Larimer Street) to a new home at Cricket on the Hill (1209 East 13th Avenue) on July 11. Bring your ax and get down on some blues or whatever feels good at 9 p.m. Wednesdays.

If any ladies are looking for yet another place to drink for nothing (don't tell Steve Horner), the Lure(1434 Blake Street) is now serving free Stoli vodka to gals every Thursday.

 
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