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About a decade ago I lived downtown, just down the street from the Red Garter strip club, which today is La Boheme Gentlemen's Cabaret (1443 Stout Street). Unlike its replacement, the Red Garter was a sketchy joint and all-nude, which meant no alcohol could be served there under Denver ordinances.

One night a friend I'd known since pre-school — back in town from Atlanta to get married — came downtown with his future brother-in-law to visit. It was the night before the wedding, and somehow a bachelor party had never been organized, since a lot of people were coming in from Georgia. The next best thing was the Red Garter. The three of us stepped inside, where we found a rough-looking broad getting frisky with the pole while Prince's "Cream" played on the sound system. A few minutes after we sat down, a few girls came up and asked us to buy them drinks. Whether the drinks are soft or hard, the game is always the same: You buy them drinks, and they sit next to you and make you feel like a man, or at least somebody, for a few minutes. But like that theory about how marijuana leads to harder drugs, once these girls chat you up for a bit, you're gonna want a private dance. Once you're alone with the girl, you're going to really feel like somebody — at least for the duration of about three songs. Once you're out the door, though, you feel even more pathetic than when you first went in.

For a nightcap, we went around the corner to a bar named Nettie's II, which my friend Bill claims was owned by the same people who once owned the Congress Lounge. Both were scary joints, and both are now gone. The Congress is now the Satellite Bar (308 East Colfax Avenue); Nettie's just reopened last week as the Shag Lounge (830 15th Street). Like La Boheme, it's a vast improvement over the previous occupant -- and in fact, it has the same owners as La Boheme, who are billing it as "Denver's new mid-century martiki lounge." Which means it's got a bit of the space-age bachelor pad thing going on, but it's still pretty frickin' hip. There are a few of those "egg" chairs that look they came right out of Woody Allen's Sleeper, Shriner hats above the bar and '60s-inspired waitress outfits revealing loads of cleavage. Oh yeah, and there's a stripper pole near the bar, which a few female guests at opening night jumped on for a couple of impromptu routines. Fully clothed, unfortunately. But one of the gals was so good, I was convinced she was a professional stripper.

The official entertainment on weekends is definitely all-pro: DJ Bedz, spinning some Sly and the Family Stone and King Floyd, will be at the decks every Friday, and DJ Low Key on Thursdays.


Club scout: After the Shag shuts down in the early morning hours, the party doesn't stop. Right next door is Leela European Cafe (820 15th Street), one of the few 24-hour coffee shops/restaurants in town, with free wireless Internet all the time — and live music on weekends.

A half-dozen blocks away, DJs Reggie B. and Dr. Zen have fired up Say Word!, their monthly Thursday night dance parties at the Old Curtis Street Bar(2100 Curtis Street). The duo will be spinning everything from old-school hip like LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Stetsasonic to funk, disco and what-not. A few blocks from there, the Roxy (2549 Welton Street) just turned its Juicy night into Foxy, a second Friday of the month dance party with DJs Tatiana, Spindee and Blaquegurl.

Meanwhile, back in LoDo, Spill (1410 Market Street) is hosting weekly bikini contests at 4 p.m. every Sunday through August, with finals on September 2. Two winners will get all-expenses paid trips to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

 
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