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The 21 Best Events in Denver This Week

"Viva Casa Bonita," Cari RobertsEXPAND
"Viva Casa Bonita," Cari Roberts
courtesy Next Gallery

Even if you don't have Presidents' Day off, there are ample opportunities this week for entertainment, escape and enlightenment. Keep reading for the 21 best events in Denver over the next seven days.

Monday, February 17

The Mile High City will host the next round of Speed Rack, a global competition created by and for female bartenders to raise money and awareness to fight breast cancer, at 6 p.m. Monday, February 17, at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton Street. Two dozen established and emerging Denver area bartenders, all women, will go head-to-head for the chance to compete for the title of Miss Speed Rack USA 2020, each shaking up four cocktails for a panel of judges that includes Kendra Anderson (owner of Bar Helix), Caroline Glover (chef/owner of Annette), Mary Wright (wine director at Morin) and Jason Patz (bartender at Williams & Graham). The winners will advance to the final showdown in Chicago in May. Tickets start at $25, and all proceeds go directly to charity partners Pink Agenda and Bright Pink. Buy your tickets at cervantesmasterpiece.com.

Tuesday, February 18

If you prefer virtual blizzards to the real thing, celebrate winter in a dry theater with Cirque Flip Fabrique’s soaring Blizzard, a snow-blown performance by the athletic, high-flying Quebecois troupe, in town for one night only. Watch the cirque’s spirited acrobatic maneuvers on Tuesday, February 18, at 7 p.m. in Gates Concert Hall at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue; learn more and purchase tickets, ranging from $15 to $47, at newmancenterpresents.com.

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Can you think of a message you’ve sent that you wish you hadn’t? Or one you didn’t send but wish you had? Then you’ll identify with the fraught messages shared at Unsent, a national storytelling show coming to Rock Steady, 2100 Curtis Street, on Tuesday, February 18. Co-hosts Brittany Ballard and Hanna Bowens will guide the proffering of personal tales, as folks take to the mic to read their shameful missives. The evening starts with food and drinks at 7 p.m. before the 8 p.m. show, and there will be a small gathering afterward, at 9:30, with more food and drinks. Tickets are $10 in advance at eventbrite.com and $15 at the door.

Pop-Up Magazine, the live magazine show that's become a sensation across the country, will open a new chapter in Denver when it brings its brand-new Winter issue to the Ogden Theatre, 935 East Colfax Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 18. The show will highlight multimedia, never-before-heard stories about a soap opera's significance in post-Soviet Russia, flying saucers and family obsessions, the criminalization of humanitarian aid at the U.S.-Mexico border, learning to say what we mean...and even some cabaret, as well as a special performance by DeVotchKa. Tickets are $29 at axs.com.

Wednesday, February 19

Process Reversal, a nonprofit dedicated to hand-processed experimental film, will present a series of 16mm shorts from its sister organization, the artist-run film lab Artist Film Workshop in Melbourne, Australia, at the Sie FilmCenter on Wednesday, February 19. The program will include Hanna Chetwin’s “Soda,” a cinematic examination of bubbles; Madeleine Martiniello's “Tomato Day,” a piece about cinematic imagery and nostalgia; and Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie’s “China Not China,” a landscape film meditating on shifts of national power in Taiwan. The film starts rolling at the Sie, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, at 7 p.m.; organizers are requesting a $5 donation at the door. Learn more at denverfilm.org or processreversal.org.

Hearts on Fire The chocolate's been eaten, the roses are dying, and it's back to normal life after Valentine's Day. But we can never get enough of good (er, bad) dating stories, which is exactly what inspired comedian Vanessa Valerio to start her podcast Singleling. Inspired by her "roller coaster ride of dating experiences in New York," Valerio's podcast will come to Denver for a live recording on Wednesday, February 19, featuring stories from five local comedians. Get ready to laugh till you cry: The recording starts at 7 p.m. at Vauxhall in the Ramble Hotel, 2450 Larimer Street. Find tickets, $15, and more info at eventbrite.com.

The Wandering Chef screens at the Colorado Dragon Film Festival.
The Wandering Chef screens at the Colorado Dragon Film Festival.
courtesy Wandering Chef

Thursday, February 20

How can you find trustworthy news sources in the increasingly fragmented media world? Nolan Higdon, who co-wrote United States of Distraction: Media Manipulation in Post-Truth America (and What We Can Do About It), has some answers, and he'll share them during an appearance at the Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl Street in Boulder at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 20. Maeve Conran will lead the discussion with Higdon, who's also the man behind the Along the Line podcast. Admission, $5, is good toward a copy of United States of Distraction or any other book that day. Find more information at boulderbookstore.net.

The Colorado Dragon Film Festival at the Sie FilmCenter not only packs many Asian film selections into a tight four-day schedule, but between screenings offers Creative Conversations discussions next door at the Tattered Cover, as well as a pop-up Boba and Beer reception, a wellness mini-market, a hands-on Chinese opera mask workshop and an art show. In keeping with the overall theme of “Wellness in the Community,” CDFF’s opening-night screening of The Wandering Chef begins with a reception catered by Dae Gee Korean BBQ at 6 p.m. Thursday, February 20, at the Sie, 2510 East Colfax Avenue; nine more films and programs roll out over the weekend. Find a complete schedule and tickets, $12 to $40 for individual screenings/receptions and $75 to $90 for a festival pass, at cdfilm.org.

The Colorado Environmental Film Festival will take over the American Mountaineering Center, 710 10th Street in Golden, for four days of environmental films from around the world — and some made by locals, too. A free opening-night reception and silent auction begins at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 20; those festivities will be followed by a free screening of the feature documentary They Say It Can't Be Done, which follows four inventors trying to solve various ecological catastrophes with innovative technological solutions, as well as two shorts: “Maasai Olympics: The Hunt for Medals, Not Lions” and “Tire Swing.” To register for opening night, view a schedule of films and purchase tickets, go to ceff.net.

Friday, February 21

Mardi Gras in historic downtown Littleton will be a real movable feast, with eateries along Main Street and nearby spots in the fun zone offering live Cajun music, Louisiana-style cuisine and King Cakes. And at Reinke Brothers, 5663 South Prince Street, you'll be able to costume yourself appropriately with the requisite masks, makeup, outfits, voodoo dolls and Mardi Gras beads. Laissez les bons temps rouler from 4 to 11 p.m. on Friday, February 21, and Saturday, February 22; find a list of participating venues on the Downtown Littleton Mardi Gras Facebook page.

So many restaurants, so little time. But if you plan well, you can score some great bargains from Friday, February 21, through Sunday, March 1, as Denver Restaurant Week 2020 comes to more than 200 restaurants around the city. You can hit your favorite eatery for a three-course tasting menu or explore that special place you've been meaning to try; everything from casual neighborhood joints to upscale destinations are offering $25, $35 or $45 options.Visit denver.org/denver-restaurant-week for a complete list of participating restaurants and their special menus during the ten-day extravaganza, and to make your reservations. Eat up, Denver!

"Viva Casa Bonita," Kristy York.EXPAND
"Viva Casa Bonita," Kristy York.
courtesy Next Gallery

One of metro Denver's favorite shlock destinations, Casa Bonita, is the beloved beacon of the 40 West Arts District, towering above the Lakewood gallery area with its promise of cliff divers, weird diversions and bad food. To celebrate that legendary spot, Next Gallery, located just down the street at Pasternack’s Art Hub, 6851 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood, annually hosts Viva Casa Bonita, an exhibition of art inspired by the Casa Bonita mystique and juried by Andrew Novick and Betsy Rudolph. The show, which Next Gallery director Josh Davy says includes “everything from ceramic sculpture and fiber art to video installation and a sculpture made entirely of Legos,” opens with a reception, complete with Casa Bonita-style refreshments, from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, February 21, and runs through March 8. Learn more at Next Gallery’s Facebook page.

Beyond Denver is bringing a new podcast to town, presenting outside-the-box discussions of the city’s civic affairs to local venues for live tapings. GrowHaus founder Adam Brock and Ryan Foo of the Black Actors Guild will host social activist Zoë Williams for “Episode One: Beyond Whiteness” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 21, kicking off a four-week series of tapings at Gypsy House Cafe, 1545 South Broadway. Future Friday-night discussions will tackled such issues as toxic masculinity, colonization and gentrification. Admission is $10 at Eventbrite; learn more at beyonddenver.org.

New music will blast off when Denver’s experimental Playground Ensemble goes multimedia for The Space Program, a special immersive performance in the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery’s virtual-reality paradise, the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater. See and hear the space-inspired musical program, which bounces from George Crumb’s “Night of the Four Moons,” based on the poetry of Federico García Lorca, to compositions by local composers Conrad Kehn, Nathan Hall and Monica Bolles, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 21, at the museum, 408 Mason Court in Fort Collins; admission is $10 to $12 in advance at fcmod.org. Find concert details at playgroundensemble.org.

The world definitely contains more than enough found videos for Nick Prueher (The Onion) and Joe Pickett (The Colbert Report) to keep the Found Footage Festival going for fifteen years. But it's the fans who've made the fest a cult favorite. Celebrate another round of weird and wonderful art-house compilations when the fifteenth-anniversary tour descends on Colorado. First stop is the University of Colorado Boulder’s International Film Series at Muenzinger Auditorium on the CU-Boulder campus, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 21, for a screening of FFF’s all-new ninth volume; and at 7 p.m. Saturday, February 22, the fest will be at the Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 West Colfax Avenue, for an exclusive, live VCR Party. Find info and tickets, $15 for either show, at foundfootagefest.com.

Artist Thomas "Detour" Evans created art for the Central Park 5.
Artist Thomas "Detour" Evans created art for the Central Park 5.
Detour

Saturday, February 22

History Colorado is celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment all year, and on Saturday, February 22, it will host the Colorado Women's Vote Centennial Symposium from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway. A forum for sharing new research and creative work on women's suffrage, the symposium is open to everyone from educators to museum professionals to individuals from all walks of life. Registration is $20 for History Colorado members and students, $35 for all others; call 303-620-4933 for more information.

The Dairy Block has big plans for Saturday, February 22: the second annual Petite Parade. Celebrate a Mile High Mardi Gras by creating a shoebox float (built on a shoebox base, no larger than two feet by two feet and no more than three feet tall) that you can then pull around the Dairy Block, the rectangle between 18th and 19th and Wazee and Blake streets. A Denver brass band will lead the way starting at 11 a.m., and the good times will roll until 2 p.m., when prizes will be awarded for Most Original Float, Best Team Theme, Best Family Float, Funniest Float and more — with bonus points for miniature parade “throws” and coordinated team costumes. Individuals and families can enter the Petite Parade for free; Denver businesses can register for $50. Either way, advance registration is required at dairyblock.com/petiteparadereg.

Three members of the Central Park Five, a group of teenagers wrongfully convicted of murdering a jogger in New York City in 1989, will speak with Mayor Michael Hancock about their case and systemic injustice at "Exonerated Central Park Five" at 3 p.m. Saturday, February 22. At the event, part of the New Thinkers series, the mayor plans to talk with the trio about how that case relates to contemporary social-justice issues here in Denver. The free talk takes place in the Mile High Ballroom at the Colorado Convention Center; for more information, go to keosmarketing.com/newthinkers, and to RSVP (tickets are going fast), go to eventbrite.com.

Robert Rauschenberg, “Lotus X,” from the Lotus Series, ink-jet with photogravure, 2008.EXPAND
Robert Rauschenberg, “Lotus X,” from the Lotus Series, ink-jet with photogravure, 2008.
courtesy Museum of Outdoor Arts

Denver-area art lovers have waited a long time to see Rauschenberg: Reflections and Ruminations at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, which had to postpone the show for more than a year. But it's finally here, and to celebrate, MOA will host A Night of Rauschenberg two days before the exhibit officially opens to the public with more than fifty works by neo-Dadaist Robert Rauschenberg, who blended media freely in two-dimensional and sculptural works. The preview party, which includes food, drink, live music and lithography demonstrations, goes from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, February 22, at MOA, 1000 Englewood Parkway; tickets are $50 at moaonline.org. You can also purchase $10 timed tickets on the site for the show itself, which runs through June 13.

Tony Garcia of Su Teatro and donnie l. betts, founder of Destination Freedom: Black Radio Days, are ready to conclude their collaborative radio-theater adaptation of Enrique’s Journey with parts three and four of the unfolding immigration story based on the non-fictional account by Sonia Nazario. After producing the first half of the serial in Boulder last November, they’re back in Denver for the finale on Saturday, February 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive. Tickets are $17 to $20 at suteatro.org, or tune in for the live broadcast on KGNU Community Radio, 88.5 FM/1390 AM.

Sunday, February 23

The Colorado Blues Society, which began to champion blues music with school programs, scholarships and concerts 25 years ago, now boasts around 600 members — a consortium of musicians and music lovers mutually dedicated to keeping the blues tradition alive. Many of them will be present at the Colorado Blues Society 25th Anniversary Celebration, an all-ages afternoon of partying with homegrown performers Sammy Mayfield and the Delta Sonics on Sunday, February 23, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Buffalo Rose, 1119 Washington Avenue in Golden. You can join the party, too: Find information and tickets, $20 (CBS members free), at coblues.org.

The deadline to be considered for 21 Best is three weeks before the event; send information to editorial@westword.com.

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