We'd just grabbed a table in the back of BJ's Carousel (1380 South Broadway) when a drag queen sitting right in front of us and wearing a lot of turquoise-and-silver jewelry turned around in her seat and asked, "Are you here for the show, or did you just stumble in by accident?"
I let my girlfriend explain what we were doing in "Denver's friendliest gay bar" while I took a sip of Jameson on the rocks and watched another drag queen lip-synch on stage in front of a sparkly backdrop. Turns out we'd stumbled in on the tail end of "Dancing to the Oldies," presented by the 36th Imperial Family of the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire – one of many benefit shows, including the annual Carousel Ball, that this active club hosts.
While Lori and the turquoise-wearing drag queen talked, I looked around BJ's. With a dozen or so drag queens in the audience, it felt like a charming – and charmed — neighborhood dive bar, complete with a few middle-aged guys who looked like they could have been regulars. And aside from a few queens getting catty near the end of the night, everyone we talked to was pretty damn cordial, including Mercedes Chanel, who chatted with us at length after she helped stylize the short gray hair of another drag queen wearing black, thigh-high go-go boots.
Besides hosting variety and drag shows on Fridays and Saturdays, BJ's features a Tuesday Underwear Night, when you get a dollar off your drink if you dare to bare. Wednesdays and Sundays the entertainment is karaoke, and Thursdays belong to Texas Hold 'Em tournaments and three-person volleyball in the sand court. So what were we doing in BJ's? Enjoying one of Denver's friendliest bars, gay or not.
Club scout: The Arizona-based Martini Ranch USA, which owns Martini Ranch clubs in Scottsdale and San Diego, abruptly closed its Denver location at 1317 14th Street (the old Soapy Smith's space) at the end of July. "Right now it's in negotiations with the chain of ownership and a remodel," says Jason Witkes, the club's marketing coordinator. "I don't really have any further details from there." We'll provide details as they come in.
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The Beat Crue and F.O.E. will host a Rock the Bells after-party on Thursday, August 6, at Mario's Double Daughter's Salotto (1632 Market Street), with Boon-Doc, Mass Prod, Flawless & High Res, Q Nox and more; doors open at 9 p.m. and the cover is $5. And on Friday, August 7, EeeKay, Lexi Fey and Kortel will spin house, progressive, down-tempo and liquid at Delite (32 South Broadway).