New Year's Eve: My First Night With Itchy-O

Ichy-O in action.
Ichy-O in action.
Tom Murphy

For some people, New Year's Eve is the greatest night of the year. For others, it's time to stay home, solo and safe. And for a few people...well, keep reading for this eye-opening account that Michelle Garcia submitted for our My Best/Worst New Year's Eve contest.

I hail from the Mile High City, but I've lived elsewhere for the last thirteen years. Having always paid that yearly visit to the wintery wonderland of the holiday season in Denver, I'm often left with finding a fabulous shindig at the last minute for New Year's Eve.

December 31, 2011, was no different, and with my pal in town from San Francisco and her brother in tow, we were scratching our heads looking for a way to ring in the New Year. "I've heard good things about 3 Kings Tavern," I said, hoping what I had heard was right. Everyone agreed, and off we went to South Broadway — not knowing exactly what we were in for.

When we arrived, we paid the doorman $10. It was about an hour before the year changed. Naturally, drinks were ordered, and the merriment began. As the countdown continued, we found ourselves downstairs, smoking a not-quite-kosher joint — when suddenly the Grim Reaper walks in. She was dressed in black and having trouble carrying a large sign with the iconic Itchy-O logo. We helped her get it together and followed her up the stairs; the smell of sulfur wafted through the stairwell.

I instantly knew something was going to be special about this show. The crowd began to swirl, as bandmembers started filing in from all directions. As soon as the first cymbal crashed, the crowd erupted into a frenzy. Everyone in the bar started to gyrate and shake to the sound of the drums, cymbals and synthesizers. Midnight had came and gone, and the band played on after a brief intermission for kisses and champagne. Barely enough time had passed to recover from the sweat-lodge trance when round two began. Itchy-O Larry shimmied through the crowd, made her way to the lone pool table in the middle of the bar, and began to dance on top. Adjacent to this scenic delight, another bandmember began tossing lettuce and other roughage into the crowd. A frenzied bunch of heathens we were, unable to do anything but dance our asses off.

Slowly the show ended, and bandmembers disappeared into the darkness; the crowd slithered out the door into the subzero climate of a frosty Colorado New Year's night. No one cared that they were dripping icicles of sweat. We had all just witnessed one of the most epic shows of our lives. Never to be the same again, we were cast under the spell of Itchy-O. Each New Year's Eve thereafter has been spent in the company of this ethereal marching band — soon to be five years in a row.

Needless to say, since this first time and a dozen more IOMB shows since, I've moved back to Denver permanently, with every determination of never missing another opportunity to witness the anomaly that is Itchy-O.

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