While the Labor Day holiday has strayed from its collectivist roots, it's still possible to enjoy some of the finest entertainment that Denver has to offer on proletarian wages. Thrifty locals can welcome the weekend at First Friday delights and midnight-movie screenings, guffaw and debauch at a comedy drinking game on Saturday, pet farm animals or boogie to cumbia on Sunday, and spend their Monday off at a burlesque birthday party. Admission to any of the ten events listed below is less than ten dollars, and six of them are free. Whether here in Denver or farther afield on the Front Range, an abundance of good times awaits Coloradans this weekend.
Friday Lunch Club with the Annie Booth Trio
Friday, September 1, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
While many workers necessarily favor efficiency over pleasure on their midday lunch breaks, Dazzle aims to change that. With a special menu offering a three-course meal from its eclectic menu and some of the finest live jazz in the state, the Friday Lunch Club brings leisure back to your noontime meal. On September 1, join producer/ musician Annie Booth and her trio for a tuneful Salute to Women in Jazz. The music is free, but you'll need to pay for your meal; visit dazzledenver.com to learn more.
First Friday Reception for People Places and Phree Town
Friday, September 1, 6 to 10 p.m.
Helikon Gallery & Studios
With both Peopled Places and Phree Town closing on Saturday, September 2, Helikon Gallery & Studios is throwing a final reception as a last hurrah for the participating artists and their eye-catching works. Featuring the paintings and sculptures of Yana Payusova, Kim Salt, Daniel Shaffer, Maggie Chiang and more, Peopled Places explores humankind's relationship with the flora and fauna surrounding it. Meanwhile, Phree Town is a colorful exhibit from Fly Okay (Sara Wilson), populated by anime-inspired characters astride pink-hued fantastical beasts. Visit helikongallery.com to learn more.
Midnight Madness: Creepshow
Friday, September 1, midnight
Although their respective heydays lie decades in the past, the nightmares conjured by horror maestros Stephen King and the late George A. Romero still resonate, even as their greatest works are remade and rebooted beyond recognition. While today's readers and movie-goers sift through pale imitations of the scaresmiths in their salad days, true fantasmagoriacs can still see the genuine article at the Landmark Esquire's Midnight Madness screening of the 1982 anthology film Creepshow, a coke-fueled meeting of the minds between two titans of terror. Visit the Esquire's box office page to learn more and buy tickets, $9.50.
Free First Saturday
Saturday, September 2, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Denver Art Museum
For artsy Denverites in the know, the arrival of a new month also means another Free First Saturday at the Denver Art Museum. Entrance is free to all non-ticketed changing exhibitions as well as the world-class permanent collection, which includes everything from pre-Columbian artifacts to paintings by Claude Monet and Winslow Homer. Even the museum itself is a work of art; just walking through the Gio Ponti and Daniel Libeskind-designed buildings is worth braving the increased crowds. Visit denverartmuseum.org to learn more.
Colorado Wolf Adventure
Saturday, September 2, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Manitou Cliff Dwellings
A collection of relocated Anasazi ruins nestled into the foothills above scenic Manitou Springs, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings are the sort of tourist trap that guests happily fall into any day of the year. On the first Saturday of September, however, historical significance and even South Park references take a back seat to the Colorado Wolf Adventure. Guests can learn the histories of adopted timber wolves Kiowa and Ghost, along with puppies Apache and Spirit, while taking unforgettable photos with the striking and sociable creatures. Visit the Manitou Cliff Dwellings events page to learn more and register, as space is limited.
South Broadway Sidewalk Sale
Saturday, September 2, and Sunday, September 3, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
100 Broadway to 200 South Broadway
While the Colorado Rockies and Taste of Colorado will be creating traffic jams downtown, head down to the heart of Broadway, where some of this city's best independent shops — Hope Tank, True Love, Low Brow, Decade, Mutiny Information Cafe, RoseHouse, Mixed-Up Gifts and more — are hosting a sidewalk sale over the weekend with "screaming deals," promises Erika Righter of Hope Tank, which is located at 64 Broadway. Admission is free, even if the deals aren't. But some will come close!
Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game
Saturday, September 2, 7 p.m.
El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom
Comedy and alcohol have always shared an enduring but volatile symbiosis, but few shows court boozy overindulgence like Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game. A local franchise of a showcase format that originated in New Orleans — where dignified day drinking is a resident's birthright — Designated Drunkard turns the foibles, obsessions and tics of local and traveling standups into prompts for the audience to take a drink. Co-hosts Caitie Hannan and Westword's own Byron Graham not only produce and emcee the show, but one of them will be sitting on stage in the titular role, leading the audience in shot challenges and rotating roles each month for the sake of their livers. Presented in partnership with Sexpot Comedy, September's show features local mirth merchants Georgia Rae, Patrick Scott and Zac Maas along with the well-traveled Reid Clark and Chicago's Basil Faraj opening for Denver Comedy Champion Nathan Lund. Visit the Sexpot Comedy calendar to learn more, and get tickets, $5, from Nightout.
Open Farm Days
Saturday, September 2, through Monday, September 4, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Rescued Friends Animal Sanctuary
Rescued Friends Animal Sanctuary provides a comforting home fueled by a vegan philosophy for neglected, abandoned or abused farm animals that the farming industry has left behind. The animals at Rescued Friends Sanctuary live out their happy days with dignity and the finest care available, providing a living lesson for Colorado's animal lovers in the process. To celebrate Labor Day weekend, Rescued Friends is hosting a three-day open-farm extravaganza. Meet the animals, play games, and dine on tasty vegan cuisine while learning about the efforts and philosophy behind the Rescued Friends Animal Sanctuary. Visit rescuedfriends.org to find out more.
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Sunday, September 3, 3 to 10 p.m.
Add a little rhythm to your Labor Day weekend at Levitt Pavilion, 1380 West Florida Avenue, staging grounds for the free Cumbia Festival. Though cumbia music is part of a courtship ritual that originated in Colombia, its irresistible danceability has spread around the world, inspiring various subgenres and enduring across generations. Join performers such as Mexico's La Tropa Vallenata and local acts Tropical Kaoba and Los Chavos Dun Dun, along with other special guests, on Sunday, September 3; visit levittdenver.org to RSVP and learn more about other free performances in FirstBank's Latin Concert Series.
Ooh La La Presents Cherry Pop Pop Poppins' Birthday Bash
Monday, September 4, 9:30 p.m.
3 Kings Tavern
Cherry Pop Pop Poppins, maven of the Denver burlesque scene, is celebrating her birthday by hosting a massive bash at 3 Kings Tavern's Panties at the Bar showcase. With a hand-selected lineup and surprises galore in store, fans and freaks alike won't want to miss this birthday party. Anyone feeling brave enough to show up clad only in underwear is not only exempt from the cover charge, but will get a free shot at the bar. Admission is $5 via Hold My Ticket; visit 3kingstavern.com to learn more.