Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
Each spring, lindy hop king Frankie Manning returns to Denver, like the swallows to Capistrano, for a weekend of dance, dance and more dance. The octogenarian's history as a dancer dates back to the heyday of the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, where he helped invent the original lindy moves. When swing gave way to bebop, and jazz audiences stopped dancing, Manning took a thirty-year break and went to work at the post office. But he's been back on his feet since the 1980s, dancing across the country and becoming an annual fixture at Karen Lee's dance studio alongside his son and fellow dancer, Chazz Young. Swingers, take note: Reservations for his April 16 through 19 Denver turn are going quickly.
God-Shaped Hole, Tiffanie Debartolo's tale of star-crossed love - born in the classified ads, played out beneath the artificial glow of Los Angeles life -- has all of the elements of pure romantic noir: The lead character, Trixie, has a love affair with the dreamy and intense Jacob, a writer for an alternative weekly newspaper, that is burning, tumultuous and, ultimately, tragic. (Let's just say someone drowns in the Pacific, leaving the other for the great wave in the sky.) But the debut novel from DeBartolo, who also penned the screenplay for the Jennifer Aniston/Ione Sky vehicle Dreams of an Insomniac, is funny, bold, quasi-philosophical and a hell of a lot smarter than your standard grocery-store paperback fare. Currently splitting time between Boulder and the Big Apple, DeBartolo is reportedly at work on her second book; we can only hope it's as divine as her first.
Yeah, we know Vinyl is no more: The great blizzard of 2003 tore the roof off the place, literally, while completely demolishing Floyd's Barbershop next door. But owner Regas Christou has vowed to rebuild, and we hope he hops to. Although Vinyl lacked the flash of the high-profile Church right around the corner, among music aficionados and the die-hard dance set, it ranked a notch higher on the cool scale. The ambience was fresher, the DJs were hipper, and the crowd was usually down for something more adventurous than the latest J.Lo remix. Internationally known spinners as well as local residents took to the tables in the multi-room space. And if you were looking to update your encyclopedia of dance moves, Vinyl's patrons had your booty covered. A word to the reconstructionists: We think the place would look great with, say, a pitched ceiling.
When The Simpsons come on at William's Tavern, all activity stops. The eclectic jukebox (it's got everything from The Cramps to Hank Williams to Motown) clicks off and patrons hunkered at the bar and sitting in the church pews pay their respects in the House of Simpson. Regulars know to arrive early on Sundays, not for sassy bar mistress Anne May's tasty cocktails but for her (free) sloppy joes and other home-cooked treats.
The Starline Lounge has been dealing with the best kind of identity crises in the past year. While owner Curt Simms has slowly sallied forth with plans to open the former Denver Buffalo Company space as an upscale Mexican food restaurant called Cielo, the club portion has been cookin' for months. A few nights a week, the minimalist back bar fills with ever-evolving crowds who turn up for theme nights on a rotating calendar. Most of the time, "Brown Sugar" hip-hop events rule on Saturdays, while Friday was recently handed over to "Delicious," a woman-centric showcase for songwriters, bands and DJs. The place has an unsettled feel, like a shoe that needs some breaking in, but the dance floor is ample, the drinks are strong and the fan base is amorphous enough to stay interesting. The Starline may not be as polished as its Golden Triangle dance-club competitors, but it does the job just fine.
Don't wear a short skirt to Club Purple unless you're feeling flashy. The floor that separates the first and second levels is all glass, which means that ground-dwellers can get a good look at the stylish throngs dancing and drinking above. But even at right-side-up angles, the crowd is an eyeful: A be-seen spot among LoDo-ites, Club Purple attracts the beautiful people, who turn up for live DJs and that special feeling that comes with ordering bottle service. Enjoy the view.