Well, congratulations: You made it through the holidays. If you feel a sense of dread now that the happy times are over, fear not! We have enough events to keep your social calendar busy through the first week of the new year. Keep reading for the best events in Denver this week.
Tuesday, January 2
Did your childhood dream of being a circus clown crumble under the realities of paying rent and buying groceries? Perhaps your craving to be a nomadic fire dancer gave way to pragmatism, and now you sit in a cubicle eight hours a day. Alas, it's not too late to embrace your inner busker: From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2, Massachusetts-based performance art troupe Extraordinary Arts will present the Extraordinary Workshop Series in Boulder, three classes for aspiring circus folk and curious Muggles alike. The group will offer instruction in flexibility (helpful for those aerial acrobatics), stiltwalking, and improv and character performance. So call your office and tell them you got stuck traveling over the holiday weekend; no one has to know you got stuck in a contortionist's bendy handstand with a half split. Classes sticking safely to the ground are $35; the stiltwalking class runs $65; and all three are offered for $125. See the event's Facebook page for details and payment instructions.
Wednesday, January 3
The return of an old sitcom isn't always a good thing, but we're eager to welcome back Buntport Theater Company’s Magnets on the Fridge. The popular live sitcom, based on friends half-heartedly involved in a book club and dealing with the “new” Denver, ran from 2001 to 2006; now the theater company is reviving the show on the first Wednesday of every month. The newest iteration of Magnets kicks off at 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 3, at Buntport, 717 Lipan Street. Find tickets, $8 in advance and $10 at the door, at buntport.com.
Thursday, January 4
For the last two years, the Art Gym has selected recent art-school graduates to participate in its Create Award Residency program. Participants are given a six-month membership to Art Gym, a materials stipend, support from the gallery's staff, and a final exhibition to bolster the start of their careers. This year, the gallery will showcase the art of Rowan Salem and K. Vuletich during Unseen. Salem has created a film/dance installation reflecting on how we experience stories and information, and Vuletich has created mixed-media projects based on interviews she conducted with homeless youth from the nonprofit Urban Peak, where she works. The exhibit opens Thursday, January 4, with a free reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at Art Gym Gallery, 1460 Leyden Street. The show will stay up through January 27; for more information, call 303-320-8347 or visit the Art Gym Facebook page.
Denver natives and newcomers alike can agree on at least one thing: In January, this is a real cowtown. The National Western Stock Show, which kicks off on January 6, is the reason why, of course, and it will be welcomed back in style by the Stock Show Parade, which starts at Union Station at noon on Thursday, January 4, and runs fifteen blocks along the length of 17th Street to the Wells Fargo Building, where a National Western BBQ Lunch will begin at 11:30 a.m., complete with Western music and a Western fashion show. (Don’t forget: This is also Dress Western Day.) Tickets to the barbecue are $10 and benefit 4-H; watching the parade is free — and priceless. Where else can you see a cattle drive of longhorns on a major downtown street? Find out more at nationalwestern.com.
If you only go to one beer festival in 2018, make it Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines, a three-day fest that kicks off on Thursday, January 4. Yes, it's only four days into the year, but we guarantee there won't be any better event for fans of dark, sweet, spicy, malty, high-alcohol beers in the state. Seminars and dinners kick off on Thursday, but our don't-miss event starts at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, when over 150 breweries (Dogfish Head, Paradox, Duvel and Jester King among them) will be pouring suds at the Beaver Run Conference Center, 620 Village Road in Breckenridge; seminars for die-hard beer geeks (or pros) earlier that morning are included in the $75 ticket price. Visit bigbeersfestival.com for a complete schedule of events.
Friday, January 5
If you’re the sort who likes to dive headlong into the new year with a project that keeps your hands busy and your mind stimulated, the Denver Art Museum might have exactly what you’re looking for: Fiber Art in the Museum with Boulder fiber artist Steven Frost. The workshop, which meets from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, January 5, (and every Friday through the 19th) at the DAM, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, promises a combination of art-appreciation strolls through museum collections, lectures on the history of textile art, and hands-on experimentation with fabric mediums — all culminating in a major soft-sculpture project to take home. Sign up under Lectures and Programs on their website or call 720-913-0130; registration is $75 (or $65 for DAM members). Some materials are provided; a complete list of items you’ll need to bring is also available at the website.
Who says making dessert has to be serious? Reconnect with the more creative side of baking at MCA Denver's Black Sheep Friday Teen Edition. Head to the museum, 1485 Delgany Street, at 6 p.m. on Friday, January 5, prepared to bake something delicious and ridiculous. Prizes will be given to the most insane treat. Black Fridays aim to teach and encourage creativity, so go as wild as you want with your treat — just make sure it's edible. The event is free for teens and $5 for attendees over eighteen. Happy-hour drinks for all ages will be served from 5 to 7 p.m. Find out more information and RSVP at mcadenver.org.
There may be ice on the ponds, but an avid angler’s heart always melts at the thought of the next season. Even amateurs will be hooked by the array of information at the Denver Fly Fishing Show, which lands at the Denver Mart, 451 East 58th Avenue, on Friday, January 5, and runs through Sunday, January 7. The expo offers endless displays and demonstrations on everything from casting to fly-tying. There are classes for those who really want to immerse themselves ($85 tuition includes entry to the show); you can also catch the world premiere of the 2018 Fly Fishing Film Festival starting at 6:30 p.m. January 5 (tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door). Regular admission to the show is $15 per day, $25 for two days, or $35 for all three; find out more, including hours, at flyfishingshow.com/denver-co or call 814-443-3638.
In an unusual twist, Denver’s Access Gallery paired eight resident artists with disabilities with sixteen students from the University of Colorado Denver College of Architecture and Planning to create architectural concepts for a more perfect Access. “Over the past year, we began to think big, asking ourselves: What if we had an opportunity to rethink Access Gallery, to imagine a physical community built around our artists, a place where they can create, sell and actually live?,” explains Damon McLeese, executive director of Access Gallery. “Part of the magic of Access Gallery is the community we foster by creating a safe and welcoming environment. While our artists come from all over the city, many of them see us as their home away from home.” The architecture students took it from there. The result of this meeting of the minds goes on display at the gallery in Art of Architecture, which opens with a First Friday reception on Friday, January 5, at 5 p.m. at Access, 909 Santa Fe Drive, and runs through January 19. Get more info on their website.
When it comes to losing a whole bunch of legendary, beloved artists, 2016 is tough to top. That said, 2017 gave it the old college try, with tough losses including Tom Petty, Chris Cornell and Fats Domino. Toward the end of the year, we lost another gem: AC/DC co-founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young. Sure, his brother Angus was always the focal point of that band, but Malcolm didn’t need a school uniform to shine. The great man deserves a proper Denver sendoff, and who better to do it than local AC/DC tribute band Black Ice? The band plays at Herman's Hideaway, 1578 South Broadway, on Friday, January 5, and you can guarantee that every AC/DC tune will be faithfully executed, along with every killer guitar part that Malcolm made famous. Local cover band Lowdown and Ramones tribute band Blitzkrieg Bop will get the crowd warmed up. Hey! Ho! Let’s go! Find tickets on ticketfly.com.
Denver's most inventive and elaborate comedy showcase comes off the ropes with a lineup as muscular as the luchadors themselves. The brainchild of wrestling superfan and bumbling referee Nick Gossert, Lucha Libre & Laughs is a perennial favorite whose fan base grows in both number and ferocity each month. Gossert hustles to not only book the funniest comics in Denver, but also juggle the schedules of all the wrestlers involved, renting the ring and doing the lion's share of promotion, with a valuable assist from Sexpot Comedy and a cadre of local sponsors. The result is a unique showcase in which color commentary from Nathan Lund and Sam Tallent keeps the audience laughing during the feats of strength, often becoming the stealth highlight of the evening. The show is starting off 2018 strong, delivering a brawny lineup of LLL Champion Mike Sydal, Allie Gato, Lonnie Valdez and Xander Kreed (to name but a few) in the ring, and Sarah Hake, Jose Macall, Ben Kronberg and more on the mic. Catch Lucha at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue; doors open at 7 for the 8 p.m. showtime. Get tickets, $10 (or $40 for five), and more information at theorientaltheater.com. Single tickets go up to $15 at the door.
A wide swath of chance-taking Denver artists, many of them working in the DIY underground, will poke their heads aboveground in an unexpected space — ABC Custom Framing, 2550 South Colorado Boulevard, in the University Hills Plaza — for Lifestyle III: Shrines, a freewheeling, multimedia stab at expressing the spiritual side of being creative in hard times like these. Close to thirty artists and live musicians rounded up by Samuel Mata will participate at the interactive opening of the show, starting at 5 p.m. Friday, January 5 (music begins at 9:30 p.m.). Admission is free, and light refreshments will be provided; visit the event's Facebook page for information.
If you'd give your right arm to avoid ski traffic on I-70, don't miss the Amtrak Winter Park Express. Departing for the first time this season at 7 a.m. on Friday, January 5, the train takes passengers from Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop Street, to the base of Winter Park Resort every first Friday of ski season and Saturdays and Sundays through March 25. Travel like they did back in the day (the train began in 1912) and avoid the I-70 bumper-to-bumper nightmare. Find tickets, which start at $29, and more information at tickets.amtrak.com/winter-park-express.
Buntport Theater will double as a circus tent when the Rainbow Militia, a Denver arts collective blending aerial dance, circus arts and live music in performance, presents the Tabula Rasa Cabaret. This is the good stuff: Collaborators include performers associated with Denver’s Wonderbound dance company and MOTH Circus, along with a pack of local A-list musicians. Catch the cabaret one night only, on Friday, January 5, from 7 to 9 p.m., at Buntport, 717 Lipan Street. Find more information and tickets, $20 in advance, at brownpapertickets.com. Admission goes up to $25 at the door. Learn more at rainbowmilitiaaerial.com.
David Barsamian, already a cornerstone of American progressive journalism as the founder of the Boulder-based Alternative Radio program and its educational wing, Rise Up, is also known for his interview collections with powerful voices from the left, from Noam Chomsky to Howard Zinn. His latest book, Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy, focuses on twelve talks with Chomsky on contemporary subjects ranging from the rise of ISIS to the presidency of Donald Trump. Looking for intellectual balm for what’s ailing our nation and the world at large? Barsamian will discuss the book and leave his John Hancock on your copy on Friday, January 5, at 7 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Admission is free; visit tatteredcover.com for details.
Saturday, January 6
An ancient instrument with variants across various cultures and continents, it only takes one note of dulcimer music to realize why the Latinate word for "sweet" is built right into its name. An aural appetizer for Colorado's annual Dulcimer Fest (which returns February 2 and 3), musicians Tina Gugeler and Bonnie Carol will take the stage at Tuft Theatre at Swallow Hill Music, 71 East Yale Avenue, for Dulcimer!, an evening of dulcimer music featuring Balance and Swing, Prairie Dog Picnic and the Colorado Dulcimer Festival Dance Band. In addition to a lovely concert, the event also features workshops and other learning opportunities. Doors open at 7 p.m. and showtime is at 8; get tickets, $16, and learn more at swallowhillmusic.org or 303-777-1003.
Literary artists looking to build a profession in writing have a local stronghold in Regis University’s Mile-High MFA Program, a concise graduate school designed for working students with a staff of experienced local professional writers. To start the year and introduce the work of students and instructors to the public, Regis will roll out the red carpet for Mile-High MFA Program Presents, a week of readings that showcase both, keynoted by visiting writer Patricia Spears Jones, an award-winning poet and playwright living in New York City. Jones kicks off the series on Saturday, January 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mountain View Room at Claver Hall, Regis University, 3333 Regis Boulevard; subsequent readings by Regis faculty and students continue at the same time and place nightly through January 12. All events are free, and space is limited; go to regis.edu/mfa for information and a complete schedule.
The new year gets off to a fun, and funny, start at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 6, when the 50 First Jokes comedy showcase returns to Denver for a fourth round. Fifty comedians — including such powerhouses as Adam Cayton-Holland, Phil Palisoul, John Novosad and Rachel Weeks — will share the stage at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street, each telling the first joke they’ve written for the new year. “In the race to see who’s having the most fun, year after year, I think the audience and the performers are neck and neck,” says Timmi Lasley, who’ll be hosting the event. Tickets are $15 in advance at 50fj2018.nightout.com, $20 at the door, and the show benefits the Gathering Place.
Indie-pop band Tennis released its fourth album, Yours Conditionally, in early 2017, celebrating the milestone with a sold-out hometown show. Now the Denver duo, which consists of married couple Alaina Moore (vocals, keys, guitar) and Patrick Riley (bass, guitar) has put out the five-song EP We Can Die Happy. The new mini-release includes singles like “No Exit,” a tune that perpetuates Tennis’s warm, ’70s-inflected pop and nudges you toward the dance floor. Another single, “I Miss That Feeling,” is a reworked leftover from Yours Conditionally that delivers sunny, dreamy vocals and lyrics that explore how a panic attack can feel reminiscent of a surge of pleasure. Tennis returns to its hometown on Saturday, January 6, to play the Ogden Theatre. Find tickets at ogdentheatre.com.
Sunday, January 7
The exhibit Dalí & Picasso: Drawings and Prints From the Collection of Dr. Wayne F. Yakes at the Fort Collins Museum of Art will close this weekend, but not before you’ll get a chance to make your mark at the Surrealist Writing Games Workshop, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 7. “It will be thrilling to be surrounded by Dalí’s work and engage in the writing games made famous by Surrealists and using their philosophy as inspiration for new work,” says Kathleen Willard, poet and author of Cirque & Sky, who’ll lead the workshop. “Poets and writers of all levels are welcome.” Tuition is $35 for the general public and includes admission to the museum, at 201 South College Avenue in Fort Collins; register by January 4 at ftcma.org or 970-482-2787.
Monday, January 8
Denver’s gay bars have long been subjecting the queer community to the tyranny of disco throwbacks, house music and pop country, leaving queens who prefer rowdier fare plugging their ears or just staying home. For those weary of the same-old, same-old, the hi-dive is hosting God Save the Queens: Queer Punk Night. DJs Tocsin, Dutch and Novelí, who will be spinning all night, promise a mix of punk, post-punk, proto-punk, goth, death rock, electro-clash and more. Put the Q back in LGBTQ at this free 21+ party, which kicks off at 9 p.m. on Monday, January 8, at the hi-dive, 7 South Broadway. For more information, go to hi-dive.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.