The 21 Best Events in Denver, February 14-20, 2017

In honor of Valentine's Day, the city is full of lovely events that stretch through the days ahead. Keep reading for the 21 best events in Denver, which include plenty of opportunities for laughs, love and learning.

Tuesday, February 14

It’s Valentine’s Day, but maybe you don’t have a valentine. And maybe your pockets are lined with lint, not coins. But even the saddest unattached sack on the street can still have a good time on the day of hearts, flowers and public smooching, thanks to "Smoke, Drink and Screw: An Evening of Jokes, Tales and Taboos," a laugh fest for the poor and the lovelorn at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 14 at Deer Pile, 206 East 13th Avenue. Hosted by Johnny Morehouse, the evening will throw six to eight yet-to-be-named performers on stage to deliver jokes or stories on the Smoke, Drink and Screw theme; after each set, the storytellers will be asked a set of trivia questions, and the audience will help determine whose answers are best. Admission is free, but donations are welcome — and guess what: Couples are welcome, too. Visit Deer Pile’s Facebook page for information.

Denver hosted a record number of marriages in 2016, with 8,024 couples tying the knot in the city last year, according to Denver Clerk & Recorder Debra Johnson. To help get this year off to a fast start, Johnson is hosting Picture Perfect: Denver Clerk & Recorder’s 10th Annual Valentine’s Celebration in her office at the Webb Building, 201 West Colfax Avenue, Department 101, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14. Judges and members of the clergy will be on hand to perform marriage ceremonies (you'll have to shell out for a license), the happy couples will be entered into drawings for gifts from local businesses and city agencies, and food and beverages will be supplied. Lovely! Find out more at denverclerkandrecorder.org.

Wednesday, February 15

If Civic Center Park's romantic possibilities don't call out to you, perhaps you're just not thinking far enough outside the chocolate box. The Civic Center Conservancy thinks plenty of folks have found love at the park — and the nonprofit wants to hear all about those starry-eyed experiences. The Conservancy is giving lovers a chance to tell their stories on social media using the #CivicCenterLove tag on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Post a story about meeting, falling in love, sharing a date or getting engaged at the park, and you could win two gift certificates to dine and shop at Civic Center Nosh & Posh. Deadline is February 15; see the complete rules of the contest on the Conservancy's website.

Failure might be inevitable — even necessary at times — but society still treats it like an incurable disease. Here to change that is Fuckup Nights, a program that began five years ago in Mexico City and has spread around the world. The premise is similar to that of TED Talks, only here entrepreneurs share their screw-ups with the audience. Hear about the failures of Annelise Loevlie, CEO of Icelantic Skis; Tran Wills, co-owner of Base Coat Nail Salon; and Kate Kavanaugh, co-owner of Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15, at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. Tickets are $15 to $20; find out more at Ophelia’s Facebook page.

Thursday, February 16

Since Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory came out in late January, our office copy has been passed from friend to friend almost as quickly as a basketball moves around the court. They’ve all raved about Boulder author Lydia Reeder’s true account of the Oklahoma Presbyterian College Cardinals, a gritty girls’ team led by coach Sam Babb, which won 89 consecutive games — including two Women’s National AAU Basketball Championships — at the start of the Great Depression, when many of the players’ farming families were suffering through the Dust Bowl. Babb was Reeder’s great-uncle, and she had access to many firsthand accounts; as a result, she tells this story with a Boys in the Boat-like range that stretches from the changes in women’s athletics to the hardships of the ’30s to the triumph of the human spirit. You can’t have our well-worn copy, but you can buy one when Reeder appears at the Tattered Cover Aspen Grove, 7301 South Santa Fe Drive in Littleton, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 16. Admission is free; find out more at lydiareeder.com or tatteredcover.com.

Painter Xi Zhang, who left his mark at Plus Gallery before moving on from Denver, is back in town with Shelter of Desire, a solo exhibition mounted by Plus in collaboration with Arts Brookfield. Curated by Arts Brookfield’s Andra Archer and comprising works from Zhang’s ongoing Metallic Leaf Series — some of them painted during a residency with the prestigious Mark Straus Gallery in New York — the exhibition takes an expressionistic leap into psychic landscapes while telling personal stories. Zhang will be present at the opening reception, which goes from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, February 16, at 1801 California Street; Shelter of Desire will stay up through April 28. Find more information here.

Brian Flynn, comedian and co-host of The Revisionists podcast, has been quietly at work on Nighttime Tonight for months now, assembling a team of eager locals to write jokes and pitch segments for a new showcase modeled after such late-night staples as Conan and The Daily Show, with just a dash of Garry Shandling-esque internecine struggle. Mostly, however, Nighttime Tonight is intended as a place where members of the Denver comedy community can gather once a month and indulge their creative whims while collecting donations for a different charitable organization each round. Nighttime Tonight debuts at 9 p.m. Thursday, February 16, at the Deer Pile, 206 East 13th Avenue. Admission is free, but Flynn will be collecting donations for the Marshall Project; find out more at the Deer Pile Facebook page.

"Family," shot at Denver's Civic Center Park, 2017.
"Family," shot at Denver's Civic Center Park, 2017.
© Billy "Ghost Lenz" Riesing

Upcoming Events

Friday, February 17

Denver renaissance man Hektor Munoz, an internationally known bilingual poet and performance artist, invites you to take your chances at "Poetry for the Liberated," an open mic and reading on Friday, February 17, at Casa Mayan, 1020 Ninth Street on the Auraria campus. Once a center of life in the barrio before urban renewal displaced its residents in the ’70s, Casa Mayan sat empty for decades; now it’s once again a meeting place for students and artists. This gathering, which includes artwork by Calvin Carter and Daniel Lowenstein, begins with a community potluck from 5 to 6 p.m. and continues with the reading from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free; see the Casa Mayan Facebook page for details.

Horror-film queen Theresa Mercado’s Scream Screen series at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, is currently working its way through a four-film showcase of the psychosexual films of David Cronenberg. At 9:30 p.m. on Friday, February 17, Mercado will show the hallucinatory 1983 cult favorite Videodrome, starring James Woods as an early cable-TV CEO who literally gets sucked into his work. That’s just the start of the film’s string of weird; after seeing this, you’ll never look at your television the same way again. Get amped up before the screening with live music from Videodrome, a hardcore supergroup made up of members of Strafgod, Rotten Blue Menace and MOB. Grab tickets, $7 to $11, online at denverfilm.org. The series will conclude on February 24 with Dead Ringers.

If the mid-week Valentine’s Day didn’t bring enough romance, here’s a perfect way to extend the celebration with a weekend date night: Things should get steamy at the Museo de las Americas for you and your Val with Amor Carnal, which blends a sommelier-led tour through the Wines of the Americas and a tastefully naughty burlesque show by Denver bump-and-grind legend Vivienne VaVoom, aka Michelle Baldwin — keeper of the flame and author of Burlesque and the New Bump-n-Grind — and Gazella, a leggy regular at the Clocktower Cabaret. Get your heart on from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 17, at the Museo, 861 Santa Fe Drive; learn more and purchase tickets, $25, in advance at bit.ly/museoamor.

Get an early start on Denver’s Month of Photography at the VFW Post #1 gallery, 841 Santa Fe Drive. Down in Denver, an urban art exhibit, opens at 6 p.m. on Friday, February 17, with a reception in the gallery, where you can peruse the portraiture and documentary prints of street photographers Jody Akers and Billy “Ghost Lenz” Riesing (a featured artist at Westword’s Artopia 2017 on February 25). Admission is free, and twang-pop band PrettyMouth will be jamming live from 8 to 9 p.m. The exhibit runs through April 7; 20 percent of all sales will be donated to the Alternative Solutions Advocacy Project, an organization that advocates for those without homes. For more information, call 720-515-8391.

Keep reading for more of Denver's best events.



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