With "Fight for Your Right to Pride" as the official theme of Denver's PrideFest 2012, the GLBTQ community is taking off its gloves -- led by four grand marshals who are also happen to be "out" members of the Colorado Legislature: Senators Pat Steadman and Lucia Guzman, and Representatives Mark Ferrandino and Sue Schafer. Put on by The Center, this year's official Pride festivities kick off Saturday, June 16, with a family-friendly day of events at Civic Center Park. Sunday, June 17, is more adult-oriented fun, with the annual Pride Parade rolling out of Cheesman Park at 9:30 a.m. (A daily schedule of official PrideFest activities is available on the organization's website.)
But the Mile High City will also host dozens of all-inclusive events leading up to the big blowout. Below are a handful of Pride-connected shows, parties and fun things to do starting today and running through Sunday, June 17.
Mile High Freedom Band concert at City Park Pavilion (tonight, 7 p.m., all ages, free) The Mile High Freedom Band teams up with Harmony Chorale to roll out the third annual "Melodies of Pride" concert under the stars. The groups will regale listeners with beautiful orchestrations and sing-alongs at this families-welcome affair.
Pink Flamingo Pride at X Bar (starting Wednesday, June 13, 9 p.m., 21 and up, free) X Bar kicks off an extended weekend of events with Wednesday night bingo hosted by reigning queens Shanida Lawya and Nina Montaldo. A dance party will follow, with different Pride celebrations each subsequent night. For information on DJs and performers at all of these Pride parties, visit X Bar's Facebook page.
Gay on Santa Fey at Denver's Art District on Santa Fe (Thursday, June 14, 5 p.m., all ages, free) Celebrate Pride with a little artistic inspiration when the third annual Gay on Santa Fey opens up several galleries along the lively strip. Snacks and wine tastings will accompany performance art pieces in several spaces in the district, with select artists donating up to 20 percent of sales to various GLBTQ organizations around Colorado, including PFLAG Denver, The Center and more. For information on participating galleries and details on Gay on Santa Fey performances, visit the event's Facebook page or website.
Keshet's Pride Shabbat at Cheesman Park Pavilion (Friday, June 15, 6 p.m. services, all ages, donation) Led by Rabbi Evette Lutman, this Shabbat service is open to all denominations. It's a BYO-picnic event, and a chance to meet other GLBTQ families, friends and allies in a spiritually open atmosphere. The gathering is free, but Keshet is asking for a donation of a nutritional snack, hygiene item or clean socks to be given to homeless LGBT youth in Urban Peak's Homeless Teen Outreach Program. Keshet is also asking for an RSVP prior to the event. For more information on this and other Pride activities put on by the organization, visit Keshet's website.
Drag Nation/Candyland Women's Pride Party at Tracks (Friday, June 15, 7 p.m., 21 and up, $10-15) As usual, Tracks has its Pride festivities on lock. The massive, multi-room facility has scheduled several events throughout the weekend, including its usual women-centered Friday dance party spiced up with a sticky-and-sweet theme and burlesque entertainment. Drag Nation will be bigger than ever, too, as RuPaul's Drag Race season-four winner Sharon Needles performs alongside Denver's best-known troupe of talented queens (hint: The one and only Miss Nina Flowers will be in the house). The evening winds down with a special appearance by '90s diva Crystal Waters. Check the Tracks website for the full rundown. 2012 Pride Kickoff Party at The Compound Basix (Friday, June 15, 9 p.m., 21 and up, Free) A gay mainstay, The Compound is a go-to for social lubrication and a great big dance floor for cutting loose, any time of the day. While the bar's official Pride kick-off begins at 9 p.m. Friday with resident DJ Zac Reclipse, it will be serving happy hour drinks at 5 p.m. with free hors d'oeuvres. Plus, if you get antsy for some go-go dancing, BoyzTown is always a few doors down. For more information on the Compound's Pride weekend, check out the bar's website.
Denver Dyke March at Charlie's (Saturday, June 16, 3 p.m., all ages, free) Gathering steam at Charlie's with a rally at 3 p.m., the Denver Dyke March welcomes "dykes, queers, lesbians, women-loving-women, gays, transpeople, bisexuals, genderqueers, allies, feminists and all other supporters" to come out and celebrate. The all-welcome parade will then march down Colfax to Civic Center Park at 4 p.m. For more information or to register to ride a motorcycle in the march, visit The Center's website.
Volleypalooza 2012 at Congress Park (Saturday, June 16, 5 p.m., all ages, $30 per player, spectators free) Hosted by the Colorado Gay Volleyball Association, the non-profit's day of games is part of the third annual Colorado LGBT Sportsfest, a conglomeration of GLBTQ athletic organizations. All levels and abilities are encouraged to play and cheer during this day of community connection and physical activity. Teams of four can sign up; deadline is Wednesday, June 13. For more information or to register, visit the CGVA's website, or sign up in person at Hamburger Mary's on June 13 from 6-9 p.m.
Girl Pride 2012 at City Hall (Saturday, June 16, 8 p.m., 18 and up, $10) Lady DJs, dancers and performers head up this female-centric, all-welcome event at City Hall, including co-promoter and Denver turntable staple DJ Tatiana. A lingerie fashion show provided by Romantix will change things up, and reality TV star Romi from The Real L-Word plays guest of honor. This eighteen-and-up Pride gathering features ten talented women behind the decks for a not-to-be-missed dance party. For more information, visit party throwers Hip Chicks Out's homepage.
Saving Face at Beauty Bar (Sunday, June 17, 7 p.m., 21 and up, $5) When the hangover is ready to settle in, head to Beauty Bar for a little hair of the dog -- and drink specials starting at the crack of 7 p.m. Damn Gurl queer dance party proprietor DJ Narky Stares will be (wo)manning the ones and twos, along with Electric Camel Toe, Ginger Perry, Chris Diesel and Beth Kanai. Plus, if all the dancing and glitter and two-buck PBRs aren't curing your weekend comedown, Benny Blanco's is right next door, serving its deliciously greasy slices late into the night.
Free Barbeque at Barker Lounge (Sunday, June 17, 3 p.m., 21 and up, free) If you're exhausted from the non-stop Pride party machine, the Barker Lounge will be offering some old-fashioned R n' R on its secluded back patio this afternoon, with adult-type people and pets welcome. It's also a good time to get one last glimpse of the quaint neighborhood hangout, before the Barker Lounge packs up and moves to a newer, bigger location on Santa Fe Drive in July.
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Climax Sundays -- Official Pride After-Party at Vinyl (Sunday, June 17, 4 p.m., 18 and up, $10) It's crazy to think a four-level club in Denver can get packed, but Vinyl will no doubt be just that as Pride weekend draws to a close. Already known for its summer rooftop parties, Climax Sundays gets huge tonight as it welcomes DJ Kid Madonny and DJ Irene to enthrall party-goers on this last evening of celebration. DJ Tatiana will again make an appearance, as will Miss Flowers, who, in addition to being a fierce queen, is also a killer DJ. The party starts at 4 p.m.,. expect shiny dance floors and cushy couches in this joint to fill up fast. For more info on Denver PrideFest 2012's eighteen and up grand finale, visit the Climax Sundays' event page.