Over the past week, I've spent more time on the 1900 block of Market Street than I have over the past ten years or so — if you don't include my regular Sunday-night stops at El Chapultepec (1962 Market Street) for live jazz. The 'Pec, which has been around for more than seven decades, was once one of the few reasons to go to this sketchy part of town (Mori was another). But with the opening of Coors Field in 1995, bars poured into the neighborhood, and as a result, Friday and Saturday nights could be completely nuts. We're talking cars with the booty bass pumping and sidewalks littered with the drunken Abercrombie & Fitch frat-guy set and the gals they adore — you know, the ones with the fake tans who love to have as much skin exposed as possible.
But lately the block has been undergoing another transformation, most evident at 1920 Market, which closed its doors as B-52 Billiards in early 2006, then re-emerged several months later as the set for The Real World: Denver. Last December, Shane Alexander and Josh Hawkinson bought the building to turn it into a club/restaurant named the Abbey, which then became Theorie when a place with the same name in California took offense. The change put a major crimp in the owners' plans, but they still managed to open the doors to Theorie on Monday, August 13.
This wasn't the first change in plans, either. Originally, Alexander and Hawkinson had planned to put the Abbey in a building at 3300 Osage Street, a block east of St. Patrick's. But when the Real World building went on the market, they jumped at the chance to scoop it up for upwards of $3 million. The 7,000-square-foot Osage location is currently on the market for $995,000, down from the initial $1.3 million asking price.
But they haven't skimped on this spot. When I checked out Theorie on its first night in business, I was blown away by how slick it looked, and how very un-Real World: lots of exposed brick, private booths, lush sofas and chandeliers. These guys have obviously spent a ton of money, hoping to attract an elite, ultra-chic crowd. And at last Friday's soft grand-opening party, it looked like they'd succeeded. The place was packed inside and on the patio with a mixture of the standard LoDo crowd and swankier folks you'd normally find five blocks away, at places like Monarck (1416 Market) or Mynt (1424 Market). It seemed like people were digging Theorie; I even spied couples getting cozy against some pillows in the front room and in one of the back rooms, where topless (except for body paint) go-go dancers got their groove on while a bongo player kept time with the music on the sound system.
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I couldn't help but think about how far this neighborhood has come since my favorite night at the 'Pec back in the early '90s. One quiet Sunday, the house band invited this lanky guy, maybe in his seventies, up to the stage. Horn players were rarely miked in those days, but they set up a microphone for this guy. His tenor had a light, wispy, Stan Getz-like tone. After his few songs, I learned that he had cancer of the tongue. If he didn't get his tongue cut off — which would mean he couldn't play the sax — he'd die.
But he'd decided to go out playing.
Club scout: Congrats to Rockbar (3015 East Colfax Avenue) owner Jesse Morreale, who's throwing the club's first-anniversary party this weekend. On Friday, August 24, the music will flow with DJs Wesley Wayne, Thomas, Wigdan Giddy, Dragondeer and St. Higgins. On Saturday, August 25, it's DJs Dealer, Paris and Scooter. Oh, and Mad Dog shots are free from 9 to 11 p.m. both nights. On August 30, Rockstar Aaron celebrates a year of spinning at Rockbar, with Lipgloss DJs Tyler Jacobson and Michael Trundle.