Go low, go high and get high at some of the best events in Denver this week, including a visit from former first lady Michelle Obama, an aerial performance that's sure to leave your jaw dropped, and the Mile High Marijuana Showcase. Keep reading — there's more where that came from.
Tuesday, July 25
For thirty years, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado has been at the forefront of efforts to create greater economic opportunities for women. Through extensive research and community outreach, the foundation aims to dismantle the systemic exclusion of women by supporting legislation and sharing its resources to help women become self-sufficient. WFCO has found an ideal guest speaker in former first lady Michelle Obama, a woman of immense accomplishment and tremendous poise, who’ll be joining guests for an insightful and inspiring conversation on Tuesday, July 25, at 5:30 p.m. at the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle. Visit wfco.org to learn more and buy tickets, which start at $54.50.
Brilliantly inventive theater impresario Thaddeus Phillips can create a desert on stage with lighting and a suitcase full of sand, and use a cigarette holder and a high-heeled shoe to represent King Lear’s two evil daughters. His work is playful, anarchic and wildly imaginative, so it makes sense that he’s turned his talents to A Billion Nights on Earth, a play for children — ages three to 99, that is — that bills itself as a “theatrical epic inspired by pop-up books, Kabuki stagecraft and parent-child relationships.” Phillips, a Denver native who returns far too infrequently, will stage six previews of A Billion Nights starting Tuesday, July 25, at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street, before the piece goes on to Philadelphia and New York. Performances are at 7 p.m. except for the two on Saturday, which are at 1 and 6 p.m. RSVP for tickets and pay what you can at the door. Learn more at 720-946-1388 or buntport.com.
You've been on a bar crawl, of course, but what about a restaurant crawl? Tasty Colfax is here to help you out with that. For $25, you'll be able to wander through a plethora of breweries, bars and bistros on Colfax Avenue between York Street and Colorado Boulevard, sampling bites and beverages left and right. Participating restaurants include Atomic Cowboy and Denver Biscuit Company, Humble Pie, Fat Sully's, Mezcal, Southside Bar Kitchen and To the Wind Bistro. The crawl (which may literally become a crawl as you become weighed down with food) runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25. Find tickets at nightout.com.
Wednesday, July 26
Over 33 informative installments, Nerd Nite Denver has delighted local wonks with a wide-ranging series of talks from experts in various fields. Catnip for those who love documentaries, TED Talks and NPR, Nerd Nite has found a home at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, thanks to the joint efforts of host/producer Sara Dee and Sexpot Comedy. This month’s show spotlights CU Denver’s William Schumann discussing his research on the neural behavior of ant colonies. He’ll be joined by Lincoln Carr, a theoretical physicist at the Colorado School of Mines, presenting ideas on how to bridge the academic divide between the sciences and the humanities, as well as graduate research assistant Hannah Aucoin (also from Mines), who’ll examine the “politics of Star Wars.” Join the bespectacled crowd at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26, for a unique event that answers the question “What if a great professorial lecture had a full bar?” Tickets are $6 in advance at eventbrite.com, $10 at the door.
Enjoy food and cannabis in a whole new way during Dab & Dine: A Guided Terpene Tour, a sensory exploration of terpenes and food. Attendees will learn about different plant terpenes and how they affect cannabis smells and flavors and will then experience them firsthand with three different strains. After that, attendees will enjoy cannabis-derived terpenes paired with a dinner menu that complements each strain. The dinner and learning experience runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26, at Cultivated Synergy, 2901 Walnut Street. Find tickets, $34, at eventbrite.com.
Thursday, July 27
The Big Game takes place 100 years from today, after capitalism has trashed the world (surprise!). Performance artist Kyle Peet joins a band of activists who together find a bunch of old sports equipment and a dusty copy of a book about the history of sports. The group starts reintroducing the topic to the people of the ravished world, and together they invent a new sport that combats injustice. The Big Game will be unleashed for one night only (for free!), on Thursday, July 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. at PlatteForum, 2400 Curtis Street, Suite 100. For more information, go to platteforum.org or call 303-893-0791.
The War on Women, a new collaboration of Boulder theater ensembles Square Product Theatre and Local Theater Company, will address rape culture and sexual abuse in a pair of productions this year, beginning with Square Product’s regional premiere of House of Gold, Gregory S. Moss’s view of an allegorical world as experienced by a fictionalized JonBenét Ramsey. “It’s about something much larger than what happened in Boulder twenty years ago,” Harrison says of the company’s controversial choice for its season opener
in a town that’s never gotten over the unsolved mystery of the highly publicized murder. “It’s not a piece of realism. The characters serve as archetypes; they aren’t meant to represent or fictionalize the real people involved in JonBenét’s story.” House of Gold opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 27, and runs on selected dates through August 12 at the ATLAS Black Box Theater on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. For tickets, $11 to $22, visit houseofgold.brownpapertickets.com or call 1-800-838-3006. Local Theater Company’s companion production of Michael Yates Crowley’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias opens October 27 at the Dairy Arts Center; learn more at localtheatercompany.org.
The last daily newspaper in town will once again offer a stunning lineup of local and national musical acts for its Underground Music Showcase. Benjamin Booker, Red Fang, Zola Jesus and Esmé Patterson will headline the Denver Post event, and local acts from YaSi to Cheap Perfume to Jay Triiiple will perform on fourteen stages in venues all over South Broadway. The four-day festival begins on Thursday, July 27. For tickets, schedules and more information, go to theums.com. Festival passes are $55 ahead of time and $75 the day of the event.
Keep reading for more of the best events in Denver.
Friday, July 28
The story of Leopold and Loeb — two affluent, Nietzsche-obsessed teens who in 1924 kidnapped and murdered a fourteen-year-old acquaintance just for the thrill of committing a perfect crime — has been retold countless times in fiction and film, as well as on stage, since the premeditated act was dubbed the “crime of the century.” Now Equinox Theatre is bringing one interpretation, Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, an unlikely musical thriller by Stephen Dolginoff, to Denver for its regional premiere. That’s business as usual for Equinox, which is known for its campy musicals (like Evil Dead: The Musical and its special seats offered in the “splatter zone”). Thrill Me, with Colin Roybal as Nathan Leopold and Maximus JD Nielsen as Richard Loeb,opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 28, at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street, and runs on Fridays and Saturdays through August 19. Learn more and get $20 advance tickets at equinoxtheatredenver.com, or pay $25 at the door.
Since relocating a few months back to the Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 East First Avenue in Lowry, Propaganda! has organized a series of packed comedy showcases, bringing top-notch headliners to the concert venue. This month’s show, on Friday, July 28, is no exception, as hosts Stephen Agyei and Eric Henderson (along with Matt Monroe, who still produces the show from Portland) have put together one crackerjack of an evening. With local stage-smasher Anthony Crawford and visiting New York comic Nicole Conlan opening for co-headliners Michelle Billoon (The Late Late Show) and Justine Marino (Roast Battle), this is some propaganda you might want to believe. Visit Propaganda’s Facebook page to learn more. The show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $10 via Ticketfly.
That curious mash-up of retro sci-fi, rocket ships and Victorian style that is steampunk already provides all the makings you need for a fantastic costume party, but Steam 2017 takes it right over the top: The genre-specific art and fashion extravaganza will whisk you to a place far, far away that’s darkly historical yet optimistically futuristic. Grab your goggles! The party runs from 6 p.m. to midnight on Friday, July 28, in the spaced-out environs of Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive, with spins by DJ Droc and an out-of-this-world fashion show. General admission is $20; the VIP boarding pass, which gets you food and beverage service and reserved seating, goes for $50 at eventbrite.com.
Denver’s Rule Gallery, which has a thriving outpost in Marfa, Texas, is reaching out to collaborate with alternative venues closer to home on gallery shows and other arts-related events. One such outreach project teams Rule with Terry Seidel’s Mr. Pool space in Boulder for RULE@ThePool, a group exhibition that draws on a shared appreciation for Colorado artists. That curatorial partnership reaps a beautiful view of nine of the region’s brightest and most distinguished artists, from Dale Chisman to Mark Sink, all of whom have historical ties to Boulder as well as to Rule Gallery. RULE@thePool opens with a reception from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday, July 28, at Mr. Pool, 2347 South Street in Boulder, and runs through October 28. Learn more at mrpoolinc.com.
Saturday, July 29
If Aspen Food & Wine was a little too far from Denver or a little too spendy for your tastes, there’s a cheaper, closer alternative that still combines mountain-town charm with sophisticated samples of great beverages and bites. Breckenridge Food & Wine is more of a wine celebration with food on the side, so prep your palates for four hours of sipping from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, at Main Street Station Plaza and the Village at Breckenridge. Tickets start at $50 each ($60 at the door, $90 for the VIP experience) and can be purchased at rockymtnevents.com/breckenridge-food-wine. Food during the festival is extra, but if you plan ahead, you can also hit the food-and-wine-pairing dinner, $75, the night before, at Sauce on the Maggie restaurant, 655 South Park Avenue. Book a hotel room for the night and hit the dinner on Friday, July 28, at 6:30 p.m., then enjoy mountain air and great wine the next day. You’ll have a wine time!
Portrait photographer Lewis Neeff is raising the bar on crowdsourcing by inviting people through social media to participate in his projects. For his new collaborative show, Vulnerable, Neeff solicited friends on Facebook to share their diaries for a portrait exhibition with added depth that will eventually become part of a physical library of sacred personal stories. Help him kick off the project when Vulnerable opens with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 29, at Dateline Gallery, 3004 Larimer Street. Learn more about the project at diarylibrary.org and about Neeff at lewismitchell.net.
Denver has a secret that’s ripe for discovery: The American Cheese Society is headquartered right here in town. That means that when the ACS decides to throw a party, the best cheesemakers in the country will descend on Denver with wheels and wedges of their finest dairy products. On Saturday, July 29, the organization is hosting the Festival of Cheese as part of its three-day Cheese With Altitude industry conference. The good news is that, unlike most conference activities, the Festival of Cheese is open to the public. For $65, you’ll gain admission to the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, at 7 p.m., where you’ll find more than 2,000 cheeses along with other food and beverages to complement the cheese-tasting experience: chocolate, cured meats, cider and craft beer, to name a few. Sample to your heart’s content, but take notes so you’ll remember your favorites, because once you’re done with the festival, there’s also the ACS Cheese Sale, where you can buy cheese to enjoy at home from an array of award-winning artisan producers. Tickets for the cheesy affair can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com/event/2665528; proceeds from sales at the event will go toward the American Cheese Education Foundation.
Known for riffs on laziness and shitty food, everyman comic Jim Gaffigan has achieved a level of cultural permeation that most comics can only dream of. Gaffigan is one of those comics whose jokes are referenced in day-to-day exchanges and whose “inside voice” joke-telling style is instantly recognizable. His first book, Dad Is Fat, was published last year, and he self-released a standup special, Mr. Universe, the year before that. Gaffigan has also appeared on Portlandia and all three Law and Order franchises, as well as in films like Away We Go. Recently, he became the executive producer and star of the eponymous Jim Gaffigan Show, which ran for two seasons on TV Land. Winding his way through Colorado as part of his Fully Dressed arena tour, Gaffigan will be performing at Broomfield’s 1STBANK Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, on Saturday, July 29, at 8 p.m. Visit 1stbankcenter.com for tickets, $59.50 to $69.50, and information.
Word’s been making its way north to Denver about the wonders of Trinidad’s annual Artocade art-car festival, which returns to the Purgatoire River valley in September. In addition to being art-car central, Trinidad is also a certified Colorado Creative District and home to the burgeoning La Puerta de Colorado Project, which is revitalizing buildings near the downtown area. One of those spaces now houses the brand-new Bizarre CAR Garage, a year-round art-car museum where tourists can stop and see the rolling works of art instead of motoring past the town on the way to somewhere else. Join the Trinidad Artocade folks for a grand-opening party from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 29; come early to get a taste of the historic settlement’s downtown galleries and eateries. Admission to the party is free; get information and directions on the Bizarre CAR Garage Facebook page.
Each year since 2001, dragon boats have taken over Sloan’s Lake for the annual Dragon Boat Festival, a celebration of Colorado’s Asian Pacific American communities. The free event opens with the Awakening the Dragon ceremony, during which Buddhist monks will chant and guests will dot the eyes of the dragon boats; afterward, a giant dragon puppet will come to life. The rest of the weekend’s festivities — which include the races themselves, cultural performances on two stages, food vendors, an Asian marketplace, a beer garden, kids’ areas and the new spicy-ramen-eating competition — will go from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 29, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 30, at Sloan’s Lake, 17th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard. For a hassle-free experience, park in the lot at Sports Authority Field ($5) and take a free shuttle to the event. Learn more at cdbf.org or 303-953-7277.
Sunday, July 30
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When Frequent Flyers artistic director Nancy Smith hangs around a place, she does it literally, head in the clouds. As Boulder’s aerial dance maven, she encourages others to do the same. Every August, the scope of her encouragement flies a little higher during the company’s Aerial Dance Festival, which brings an international faculty to Colorado for a mixture of intensive workshops for all skill levels and performances. The nineteenth annual fest swings from the rafters beginning Sunday, July 30, at Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance, 3022 East Sterling Circle in Boulder, with classes getting under way on July 31 for two week-long immersion sessions and a platter of à la carte sessions to choose from in the afternoons. But if you’re just there to watch, Intimate Encounters, $10, at 8 p.m. Monday, July 31, is a great introduction — with talkbacks — to the stars of the fest. Toward the Light, the festival showcase, runs August 4 through 6 at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; tickets for the mind-blowing performance are $24 to $28. Buy yours and register for workshops at frequentflyers.org or call 303-245-8272.
The Mile High Marijuana Showcase has become one of the cannabis industry’s few consistent events, bringing workers, vendors and tokers of all things pot together on Sundays at the Metlo building at 1111 Broadway. On top of viewing product showcases and rubbing shoulders, this Sunday, July 30, guests can receive the dopest manicures in town with Dope Nailz from 1 to 4 p.m., with a joint between their lips if they so choose. Tickets to the showcase are free if you register online, and so are the do-it-yourself manicures. But $20 will get you a rooftop manicure by Dope Nailz, plus a disposable manicure kit and one lacquer. You can bring your own cannabis to the 21+ event; register to attend at eventbrite.com.
Monday, July 31
While Van Jones has been a best-selling author as well as an outspoken and efficacious activist for years, his profile rose immensely with his role as a commentator on CNN, where his justifiably horrified response to the new order resulted in a number of viral videos. As the headliner of Roc Nation’s We Rise Tour, Jones aims to foster unity and constructive dialogue so that people with different beliefs can find solutions to the problems facing each city on the tour. Building a coalition of entertainers, athletes and activists, We Rise drives local engagement in sociopolitical issues, with a special focus on the neighborhoods with the fewest economic resources. Get involved at 8 p.m. on Monday, July 31, at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place. Tickets are $39.50 to $59.50 via Ticketmaster; visit vanjones.net to learn more.