Ten best (and strangest) arts and culture experiences in 2012

Impromptu dance party at this year's Nan Desu Kan anime convention.
Impromptu dance party at this year's Nan Desu Kan anime convention.

Denver, you've got it going on. This year, I was lucky enough to be a part of many incredibly cool events involving local and national artists, musicians and performers. Combing through the past year of Westword stories, I compiled this list of the best (and strangest) arts- and culture-related experiences from 2012.

See also: - Ten most interesting interviews of 2012: Feminist scientists, comedians and queens - Slideshow - Nan Desu Kan 2012: Bronies, Lolitas and Dreamers - Lucky '13: Cortney Lane Stell, RMCAD gallery director and curator

10. T-Pain: A painful live experience. This might have been one of the worst concerts I've ever been to, and I've been to hundreds. T-Pain took his audience inside the Ogden Theatre hostage as we sat through hours of his ego mania -- teasing the crowd with thirty-second snippets of his hits, he did not finish a single song.

Instead, he rallied through dozens of tracks in three-plus hours, stopping and starting as he pleased, talking about himself between half-singing and half-rapping. It was a true disservice to fans -- if he had any left -- and by the time he finally finished his set in Denver this past February, more than half the venue had cleared out. For the record, I was a fan. I am not anymore.

Ten best (and strangest) arts and culture experiences in 2012

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9. Mary Elitch's "chair." A chance assignment brought me in contact with the Elitch Gardens Historic Theatre Foundation, which offered me the opportunity to tour the century-old venue. The gentlemen who gave me a tour of the building were hesitant to speak about anything remotely close to a ghost story -- but there was definitely some spookiness happening in the cold and ancient space.

A chair set up in the box reserved for former theater owner Mary Elitch until her death in 1936 only added to the haunted vibe. But it wasn't a feeling of terror -- it was clear that anyone still hanging around the Elitch Gardens Theatre in less-than-human form was there in good fun. (And according to one of my tour guides, he did hear laughter coming from the unoccupied balcony once upon a time.)

Closed to the public since the mid-'90s, the organization has worked to preserve the building and hopes to raise enough money to not just fully restore it, but open it once again. I hope so -- even in a state of disrepair, the place is gorgeous.

8. Playing in a cover band. I hate cover bands. I think it is a stupid concept that serves the musicians playing in them and a fan base that can't move on. But this past summer, I was in a Hole cover band -- and I loved every minute of it. Nothing allows you to escape adult reality quite like playing pretend, and being a live derivative of Courtney Love was as close to my teenage dreams as I could get.

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