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.
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.
Saturday, February 18
Author, food historian and Denverite Adrian Miller just penned his second book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families From the Washingtons to the Obamas. Join Miller and a few special guests for a book-launch party on Saturday, February 18, at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway. A free reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. will include food and drinks and an opportunity to have your copy of the book signed by the author, who is also bringing in past presidential culinary notables as well as presidential reenactors for a meet-and-greet. VIP tickets are also available, which will get you in the door at 4 p.m. for more intimate mingling and a wider range of refreshments that include White House recipes from the book, along with an autographed copy of the book itself. Visit Miller’s website, adrianemiller.com, to purchase tickets or to make a donation to help cover the expenses of the party.
Plan to spend the day at Civic Center Park on Saturday, February 18, where a pair of protests should attract the crowds. At 11 a.m., Denver’s chapter of One Billion Rising — a global movement to end violence against women — will host a rally to support “our indigenous sisters, especially our sister Red Fawn Fallis, who is currently a political prisoner in North Dakota,” according to the organizers. The date for this event was moved from February 14 because that has long been a day to “raise awareness for missing and murdered indigenous women,” they note; the schedule change places the One Billion Rising rally right before the Defend Our Constitution March, which starts at 1:30 p.m. “Since November, Denver has been a platform for peaceful protesting that has gained notoriety across the globe,” says the Facebook page for the event, which was organized by Queen Phoenix. “Let’s continue to unite in solidarity, forming a force too big to ignore. These policies are affecting our reputation as an entire country. These policies are affecting people worldwide and creating new dangers. Let’s defend our Constitution. Let’s defend our rights. Let’s march. Let’s make bold signs. Let’s make noise. Let’s create change.” Find more information on the One Billion Rising Facebook page and the Defend Our Constitution Facebook page.
Two big shows open on Saturday, February 18, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street. Photographer Larry Hulst started shooting rock concerts in the late ’60s so that he could come away from a show “with something more original than a T-shirt,” he says. His photographs have appeared in numerous publications, including Rolling Stone, as well as on Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Grateful Dead album covers and the walls of the Los Angeles International Airport. In Front Row Center, he’ll display 58 of his photographs that showcase music legends from the past fifty years. Painter Don Coen, who grew up on a farm in Lamar, began his art career painting abstract works — but he has spent the past two decades working on a series of fifteen paintings of migrant workers, based on photographs he captured across the rural United States. He says this work depicts a part of the country most people never bother to look at, and he hopes it will bring much-needed attention to farmworkers nationwide. Both shows run through May 21 and are included with the museum’s $15 admission; for more information, go to
Sunday, February 19
If you’ve been to the Denver Art Museum over the past few weeks, you’ve seen the first several of thirteen site-specific installations going up, all part of Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place. The show includes paintings, sculptures, large-scale fiber works, animation and video installations, all taking up questions of Mexican-American identity, memory, history and displacement. Each of the artists is a mid-career or emerging Latino artist of Mexican heritage, addressing life in the western United States. The complete exhibition opens Sunday, February 19, and runs through October 22, at the DAM’s Hamilton Building, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. The exhibit is included in the price of museum admission; for more information, go to denverartmuseum.org.
Love weed — and in love yourself? The Cannabis Wedding Expo, hosted by marijuana industry veterans, allows couples to engage in the newest progressive wedding trend: incorporating marijuana into their special day. The show features more than sixty vendors that offer a variety of ways to include your love of cannabis in the wedding nuptials in a classy and tasteful way — from a bud bar or live glass-blowing at the reception to cannabis boutonnieres for your groomsmen. The expo runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 19, at the Falls Event Center, 8199 Southpark Court in Littleton; admission is $10. Get tickets here.
At 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 19, the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, will host the Day of Remembrance, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which led to the wartime incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent in the United States. Many of them wound up at Camp Amache, the concentration camp outside Granada in southeastern Colorado. Adele Arakawa will emcee a free program that includes a speech by Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, a professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at UCLA who has extensively researched the post-war resettlement of Japanese Americans, particularly in Colorado, and an audience discussion. After the program, you’re free to tour the center. But don’t be fooled by the Camp Amache exhibit that boasts a barrack that would fit in at a nice summer camp: The reality was much grimmer for the 9,000 people who spent the war years there, a stark reminder today of the dangers of painting immigrants with a broad brush. Find out more on historycolorado.org.
With Dinner, Ideas ’N Exchange (DINE), Colorado Humanities is bringing history to life in a way that you can hear, touch and, most important, taste. Join a throng of lifelong learners hungry for knowledge and Tuscan cuisine at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 19, for a performance by Becky Stone, a Chautauqua scholar who gives a magnetic portrayal of Harriet Tubman, the revered abolitionist, Union Spy and humanitarian who helped people escape the horrors of slavery through the Underground Railroad. The event is at Brio Tuscan Grille, 2500 East First Avenue; the cost is $50, and reservations are required because of limited seating. Call 303-894-7951 or visit coloradohumanities.org to learn more and buy tickets.
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Last month, following a campaign of tweeted exhortations from the show’s loyal fans, TruTV announced that it had ordered a third season of Those Who Can’t. While fans who’ve followed the career of Ben Roy — from his debauched Los Comicos Hilariosos days all the way through to the season premiere of the sitcom he co-created — rejoice in his success, many lament the scarcity of opportunities to see him perform live these days. Fortunately, Roy’s back in Denver for a special one-night-only headlining engagement at his home club, the Comedy Works Downtown, 1226 15th Street, at 7 p.m. on Sunday, February 19. Admission is $12; call 303-595-3637 or visit comedyworks.com to buy tickets for this rare treat.
Monday, February 20
While he might currently be stuck broiling in the Las Vegas heat like a Christmas ham, Sam Tallent is a Denverite through and through. With a growing list of TV credits that includes Viceland’s Flophouse and Comedy Central’s Road to Roast Battle (where he claimed victory), Tallent is finally gaining a fitting platform for his quick-witted riffs and cultish charisma. Welcome the big lummox home to a pair of headlining engagements at each branch of his home club, Comedy Works, starting at 8 p.m. Monday, February 20, at the downtown location, 1226 15th Street, and following up on Tuesday, February 21, at the Landmark club, 5345 Landmark Place in Greenwood Village. Admission to either show is $12; call 303-595-3637 or visit comedyworks.com to learn more and buy tickets.
Remember the “W” days, when George Bush the younger was in office and we thought it was the worst thing ever? Who knew that we’d now recall that time with a certain nostalgia? Looking back, Buntport Theater saw renewed relevance in its play The 30th of Baydak, originally staged in 2003 in response to the policies of the second Bush administration, and decided to resurrect it for one night as a reading. “The 30th of Baydak is a small, sweet, gentle play about a large, ragged and ugly topic: dictatorship,” wrote Juliet Wittman in Westword in 2003. Get the picture? Join the audience and ponder the mess we’re all in together at 8 p.m. Monday, February 20, at Buntport, 717 Lipan Street. For tickets, $8, go to