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The 21 Best Events in Denver, January 20 to January 26

Ranky Tanky brings Gullah culture to Denver.EXPAND
Ranky Tanky brings Gullah culture to Denver.
Courtesy of Ranky Tanky

Winter is in full swing, as is the Year of the Rat. Celebrate both at events scheduled for this week, and be sure to round out your calendar with even more happenings, including a local celebration of the one and only Dolly Parton.

Monday, January 20

In January 1986, people across the country celebrated the first official Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But Colorado had already created its own holiday the year before, pushed by then-state lawmaker Wilma Webb, who announced that Colorado would hold the first-ever Marade, a combination march and parade, in King's honor. On Monday, January 20, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission will host its 35th MLK Marade. The program will start with speeches at 9:30 a.m. at East Colfax Avenue and Columbine Street, then head down to the Civic Center. All are welcome; find more information at drmartinlkingjrchc.org.

The social-justice-driven Motus Theater will commemorate Martin Luther King Day with two performances of JustUs: Stories From the Frontlines of the Criminal Justice System at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder, on Monday, January 20: one a free, family-friendly performance recommended for children ages eleven and older at 4:30 p.m., and JustUs (Unplugged) for an adult audience at 6:30 p.m. Both shows consider life in the criminal-justice system through personal monologues and/or panel discussions; jazz vocalist Robert Johnson and pianist Adam Bodine will also perform during the ticketed evening program. Tickets for JustUs (Unplugged) start at $20; reserve yours and learn more at motustheater.org.

That a good percentage of humans love dogs is a given, so it follows that when you put talented trained pooches in an arena and let them show off jaw-dropping tricks and feats of agility, speed and smarts, you're going to draw a crowd. Snap up a ticket and be part of that canine-appreciative audience when Xtreme Dogs takes over the National Western Stock Show Event Center, 4655 Humboldt Street, for two performances: at 3 p.m. on Monday, January 20, and at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 21. This show is a winner for all ages! Tickets range from $20 to $50 at nationalwestern.com/horse-shows.

Tuesday, January 21

Ever get the feeling that the Marvel universe has taken over the American consciousness with its oh-so-human superhero dreams? If you’re one of the stricken and know everything there is to know about all of your favorite Marvel characters, Marvel Cinematic Universe Trivia, one of many trivia nights passing through at Growler USA Highlands Pub, is looking to recruit you for a showdown on Tuesday, January 21. Show up on your lonesome or bring a team of your personal Avengers, X-Men or Guardians of the Galaxy to 4433 West 29th Avenue from 7 to 9 p.m.; the event is free, but advance reservations are required at mcuhighlandspub.eventbrite.com.

Wednesday, January 22

Travel the world without going any farther than the Hanger at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, for the third annual Bazaar Benefit for the Village Exchange Center, a local organization dedicated to "creating a safe place of belonging while celebrating religious and cultural diversity." The event, which runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22, will highlight many cultures in the Denver community, with food from Jasmine Syrian Food, Taste of Sudan, Nepali Mountain Kitchen and more eateries, along with vendors including A Little Something, a local cooperative that helps refugee women achieve self-sufficiency through handmade crafts, and R Bazaar, a Denver-based nonprofit organization that honors refugee and immigrant artisans through pop-up markets. Acoustic rocker Rob Drabkin will perform, and there will be silent and live auctions. Tickets are $100; get them at villageexchangecenter.org.

If there's anything better than Nicolas Cage battling aliens, we can't think of it. In the upcoming film Color Out of Space, based on the classic H.P. Lovecraft short story, Cage does just that as farmer Nathan Gardner. A meteorite has landed on the family farm, bringing along aliens that infect the minds and bodies of Gardner and his family. Creepy? You betcha! The film officially debuts on January 24 at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, but audiences can experience the weirdness early during a special advance screening at the theater on Wednesday, January 22, with bonus footage and a post-film Q&A. Take a ride on the wild side beginning at 7:30 p.m.; find tickets, $7 to $12, at denverfilm.org.

Cold War Kids, which released New Age Norms in October, has been one of the most prolific indie-rock groups of the past twenty years. With a sound akin to Modest Mouse and personal lyrics about the everyday struggles people go through, the group has put out more than a dozen projects. A favorite on the festival circuit, Cold War Kids will play the Ogden Theatre at 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 22. Tickets, $26.75 to $28, are available at ogdentheatre.com.

Thursday, January 23

Gullah culture, derived from Creole-speaking African-American communities settled along the southeastern coastal plain, is an aesthetic niche all its own, served well by Ranky Tanky, a South Carolina-based quintet dedicated to preserving the region’s music and dance. The group will bring several centuries' worth of song and performance alive at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 23, at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue, where it will demonstrate how African-inspired cadences and rhythms still flow in remote marshlands, albeit against a tide of new development. Admission ranges from $16 to $59; find more information and a link to buy tickets on the group's Facebook page.

Friday, January 24

The University of Denver is hosting All Rise, its second annual civil-rights summit focusing on environmental justice, immigration justice, criminal justice and economic justice. Students, attorneys, activists, organizers and other local leaders will gather for two days of programming, all organized by law students, that begins with a keynote address by Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU. Programming will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both Friday, January 24, and Saturday, January 25, at the Ricketson Law Building, 2255 East Evans Avenue. Admission ranges from $10 (students) to $70 (but if you're strapped for cash, tell the organizers); find more information at facebook.com/ducivilrightssummit.

Find the best in French films from the ’30s through the ’50s at Cinema Noir et Blanc.EXPAND
Find the best in French films from the ’30s through the ’50s at Cinema Noir et Blanc.
Courtesy of Rialto Pictures

Set aside three days to enjoy some of the greatest in French films from the ’30s through the ’50s when Denver film scholar Howie Movshovitz, the Denver Film Society and Alliance Francaise de Denver host a compact seven-film festival, Cinema Noir et Blanc, over a weekend at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. Noir et Blanc gets rolling at 7 p.m. Friday, January 24, with a true gem: La Grande Illusion, Jean Renoir’s humanistic examination of class rifts among French prisoners of war during World War I. The fest continues with three screenings daily on Saturday, January 25, and Sunday, January 26 — including Marcel Carné’s 1939 masterpiece of poetic realism, Le Jour Se Lève, a Movshovitz favorite, on Saturday at 1 p.m. Find a complete schedule and purchase tickets, $7 to $12 per screening, at denverfilm.org.

Leave it to Denver’s campy Equinox Theatre to start the year with a big, beautiful, bubbly show: Bubble Boy: The Musical, to be exact, in a regional premiere. Based on the 2001 film Bubble Boy, this musical version from Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio retells the story of an immunologically challenged young man, Jimmy Livingston, who navigates the world in a portable bubble in pursuit of the woman he loves: Chloe Molinski, the girl next door, now betrothed to another — with the wedding set at Niagara Falls. What’s it like to live in a literal bubble? Find out when Bubble Boy hits the stage at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street, beginning on Friday, January 24, and running at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through February 15. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door; learn more at equinoxtheatredenver.com.

Boulder dancer/choreographer Laura Ann Samuelson already had a reputation in the region as a collaborator with Square Product Theatre, Buntport Theater, fellow Boulderite Ondine Geary and others; Samuelson was also the producer of the 2014 Failure Festival in Boulder and was a Denver Art Museum resident artist in 2017. Now she’s adding an MFA from the University of Colorado Boulder's Center for Media & Performance to her résumé, but not before inviting the public to view her MFA show, “To get under, you have to lose,” performed amid a plywood-and-steel installation. Admission to two performances — at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 24, and Saturday, January 25, in the Roser ATLAS Center Black Box Theater at the University of Colorado Boulder — is free; find more info at colorado.edu/atlas/to-get-under-you-have-lose.

Ring-a-ding-ding: Cherry Creek Theatre will open its tenth-anniversary season on Friday, January 24, with My Way  A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra. A quartet of talented performers — Sheryl McCallum, Stephen Day, Jeremy Rill and Shannon Steele — will be singing some of Sinatra's favorite tunes, everything from "New York, New York" to "My Way" (of course) in this music-packed evening directed by CCT artistic producer Susie Snodgrass. Performances run through Sunday, February 23, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Pluss Theatre in the Mizel Arts & Culture Center, 350 South Dahlia Street. Tickets start at $33; get them by calling the box office at 303-800-6578 or visiting cherrycreektheatre.org.

At 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 24, the curtain will rise on Denver's newest theater group, Miscreant Theatre Collective, when it debuts Macbeth: A Very Serious Play (with a reception to follow). "These really are dark times," notes Erin Slimak in her director's notes. "The natural world around us is in disrepair. It's almost like a bunch of children are playing at how to run the world. In this production we stumble upon a group of kids whose innocent play is turned violent and diabolic, filled with plots of murder and revenge, of darkness taking hold. Curses, intrigue and king-killing become childhood games up in Grandma's attic." That attic is the Bakery Arts Warehouse, 2132 Market Street, where the show will run at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through February 8, with a matinee on Sunday, January 26. Tickets range from $20 to $30 (for a VIP ticket that includes a seat at the king's table, complete with mid-show snack). Buy yours at miscreant-theatre-collective.ticketleap.com/macbeth-a-very-serious-play.

Four years have passed since Collective Misnomer programmed its first series of dystopian short films called The way things are. The way they are going to be. Now curator Adán de la Garza is back with his Best of Denver award-winning experimental cinema: The 2020 edition rolls out at 8 p.m. Friday, January 24, at the Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 West Colfax Avenue, and includes the shorts Natural History Museum, Scenes From a Dry City, Culture Capture: Terminal Addition, among others. Tickets are $10 or pay what you can; nobody will be turned away. For more information, go to the Collective Misnomer Facebook page.

Fly high at Winterfest Fire & Ice!
Fly high at Winterfest Fire & Ice!
Courtesy of Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce

The little town of Pagosa Springs, located on the Western Slope near the New Mexico border, invites hardy travelers to visit for its annual Winterfest Fire & Ice community event, which offers the unusual — including a hot air balloon ascension in the dead of winter — as well as more seasonal adventures, from fat-bike demos, skijoring and sled races to a Barkus Parade for costumed doggies and a Penguin Plunge into the San Juan River. Winterfest begins on Friday, January 24, with a fancy gala, and runs through Sunday, January 26; find a complete schedule and registration links for individual events at pagosachamber.com/winterfest.

Saturday, January 25

The Year of the Rat marks a new twelve-year cycle of the Chinese animal zodiac, representing new beginnings and a period of prosperity. Not bad for a key election year. Build up your hopes and dreams for 2020 in style at the Far East Center’s bang-up Year of the Rat Lunar New Year Celebration 2020, a two-day affair that not only excels in traditions, with lion and dragon dances, martial-arts demonstrations and a mall-wide explosion of firecrackers, but also updates the festivities with K-pop dancers and a kids’ fashion show. Free events and mall shopping for New Year's decorations and gifts are set for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, January 25, and Sunday, January 26, at the Center, 333 South Federal Boulevard; check the schedule on the event's Facebook page.

There’s absolutely no reason to think that neon-bending is a man’s job. To prove the point and raise awareness, She Bends, a national network of women working with neon, is bringing a road show of female-made neon art, She Bends: Women in Neon, to the Loveland Museum, 503 North Lincoln Avenue in Loveland. The ladies of She Bends will light up the museum from Saturday, January 25, through April 12; admission, normally $7 (free for children ages twelve and under), is free during the day on February 13 and March 25, and during the evening on February 14, March 13 and April 10. Learn more at lovelandmuseumgallery.org.

Sunday, January 26

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There are so many reasons to love the Western spirit of the National Western Stock Show, not the least of which is the rough-and-tumble rodeo action, an opportunity to see true cowboys at work, busting broncos and riding furious bulls for show and prize money. That all comes to a head at the Pro Rodeo Finals, a fitting way to cap off the Stock Show, as the season’s leading cowpokes, male and female alike, battle for top honors in the arena. This year’s showdown starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 26, at the Denver Coliseum, 4600 Humboldt Street. Don't wait to get tickets, $42 to $85, as they're sure to go quickly; purchase them online and learn more at nationalwestern.com.

When the Denver Horror Collective gathers for a book signing for the group’s Terror at 5280’ collection, expect a little something extra. With mini-talks and readings by a host of contributing writers, the event will be more like a full-blown symposium of Colorado-centric horror literature. Join the collective from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 26, at the Tattered Cover Colfax, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Learn more and RSVP for the free event at denverhorror.com.

What makes Dolly Parton a legend? Superb songwriting skills, a voice like an angel, a mountain of blond hair and a formidable build — all characteristics you might want to emulate on Dolly Day Denver!, a Parton fest of bouffant proportions that conceals an ulterior motive of setting a Guinness World Record for gatherings of people dressed up like the one and only Queen of Nashville. Pile on your wig, rhinestones and red lipstick, and join folks of all ages and genders in celebrating Parton from 3 to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 26, at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue; entertainment includes an afternoon edition of Shirley Delta Blow’s Drag Queen Story Hour and a Denver Does Dolly revue for adults in the evening. Admission, which benefits the local chapter of Parton’s foundation, Imagination Library, ranges from $15 to $30 at dollydaydenver.com.

Know of an event that belongs on our 21 Best list? In order to be considered for inclusion, we need information at least three weeks in advance at editorial@westword.com.

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