Get in the Halloween spirit, old sport, at the Great Gatsby Zombie Ball.EXPAND
Get in the Halloween spirit, old sport, at the Great Gatsby Zombie Ball.
Ken Hamblin

The 21 Best Events in Denver, October 23 Through October 29

If you're thinking about skipping out on Halloween this year, you should seriously reconsider. From a zombie ball that celebrates the Great Gatsby to a Halloween parade that encourages you to fly that freak flag high, this season is too fun to spend on your couch. Even if Halloween isn't your thing, there's still plenty to do in Denver this week, as you'll see in this week's events calendar!

Tuesday, October 23

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts’s Off-Center heads off campus this fall for Bite-Size, an intimate immersive sweep of five micro-plays designed for small audiences. The plays, all written and directed by teams of local theater pros with literary themes, will send groups of ten to spots in and around BookBar, 4280 Tennyson Street, to view each playlet. Bite-Size’s run opens on Tuesday, October 23, at 7:30 p.m. and continues at the same time daily except Mondays through November 18; free post-show readings of additional micro-plays will follow performances on select weekend evenings. Get details and tickets, starting at $20, at denvercenter.org.

Wednesday, October 24

Japanese artist Shimabuku’s video Do snow monkeys remember snow mountains? answers that question by observing how a clan of snow monkeys resettled in the desert at a Texas sanctuary adapted to new surroundings. It’s now on view in the Denver Art Museum's fourth-floor exhibit Eyes On: Shimabuku through February, and Shimabuku will be in town to add insight at the latest DAM Logan Lecture, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, October 24, in the Hamilton Building’s lower-level Sharp Auditorium, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. A reception will follow, and the Shimabuku exhibit will be open for viewing until 8:30 p.m. Admission is $15 for members and $20 for non-members; reserve your spot at denverartmuseum.org.

More than any other night of the year, on Halloween the geeks come out to play. Get a head start on the holiday, and maybe learn a thing or two, when Nerd Nite returns to the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 24, with Escape Rooms, Political Science, and Bacteria, the final show of the 2018 season. Host and curator Hanna Aucoin will welcome lecturers Arianna Guzman, Patricia Zornio and Francis Santoriello, who'll hold court and drop some science on an appreciative, boozed-up audience; the evening includes a costume contest in which competitors are eligible to win free tickets to every Nerd Nite in 2019. Tickets are $10 at the door and $6 online at theorientaltheater.com.

Thursday, October 25

That’s What She Said presents women’s stories with a surprising gender twist: The anonymous tales are read to an audience by men who are, like everyone else in the room, learning something new. Based on the idea that men inherently don’t believe what women say, the program is an experiment in trust. Will it break through the gender gap, and suddenly everything between men and women will be a fair and clean slate? Maybe a little — and it never hurts to try. See That’s What She Said, a project of the University of Colorado Denver Center for Identity & Inclusion, at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 25, at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for a pre-show happy hour; admission is a suggested donation, and free for all Auraria campus students with a valid ID. Learn more and register in advance at eventbrite.com.

An unlikely cinematic bridge between die-hard Halloweeners and folks who keep Christmas in their hearts year ’round, The Nightmare Before Christmas has remained a holiday-straddling classic for 25 years. Goth auteur Tim Burton conceived of Pumpkin King Jack Skellington's tuneful conquest of Christmas Town in a 1982 poem and spent nearly a decade shepherding Henry Selick's stop-motion adaptation onto the big screen. Originally deemed too scary for children by Disney Studios, The Nightmare Before Christmas ultimately became a family-favorite blockbuster, with an infectious Danny Elfman score that kept audiences' toes tapping throughout the film's spooky imagery. Enjoy tricks, treats and hummable beats when conductor Christopher Dragon leads the Colorado Symphony through a live performance of Elfman's music while the movie plays at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 25, at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Find tickets, which are going fast, and more information at coloradosymphony.org.

Kurt Braunohler is comedy-nerd royalty. Though not necessarily a household name, Braunohler has been a guiding influence in some of the best televised and big-screen comedies of the past few years, including his first one-hour special, Trust Me, for Comedy Central. In addition to performances on The Tonight Show, Conan and John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show and roles in Bob's Burgers and Deadbeat, Braunohler has a penchant for outlandish stunts — like paying a pilot to sky-write "How Do I Land?" and traveling the entire length of the Mississippi River on a jet-ski for the sake of charity. He's also a prolific podcaster at the helm of no fewer than three popular shows: Emotional Hangs, Wedlock and The K Ohle With Kurt Braunohler. Catch Braunohler's jaunt through the Mile High City at the downtown Comedy Works, 1226 15th Street, starting Thursday, October 25, and concluding Sunday, October 28. Showtimes vary; visit comedyworks.com for tickets, $16 to $24, and details.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science brings ¡CUBA! stateside.
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science brings ¡CUBA! stateside.
Courtesy of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Friday, October 26

To many Americans, Cuba represents modern thinking trapped in an anachronistic environment, brought on by cut diplomatic ties with the United States (reinstated only in 2015, after more than fifty years) and a strict trade embargo still in place. But beyond the antiquated streets and lively culture of Havana, there’s a lot more to Cuba than meets our limited eye, including its flourishing, biodiverse wild places, thriving above and beneath the sea. ¡CUBA!, a new exhibit exploring everything from city life to coral reefs, opens on Friday, October 26, and runs through January 20 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, giving museum-goers a full view of the island's charms. ¡CUBA! is included with regular museum admission, starting at $11.95 (members free). Learn more and see dmns.org/cuba for add-ons and combined-attraction tickets (including the IMAX film Cuba 2D).

As RedLine Contemporary Art Center enters its eleventh year, there’s a lot about the world-class artist-residency program, gallery and community-building project to savor and appreciate. Considering that, it’s a good time to give back to an organization that gives so much on a regular basis, at RedLine’s annual One Square Foot fundraiser, a crackerjack event with an instant payoff for anyone who buys a ticket. In addition to a costume contest, artist-studio trick-or-treating and the usual party music and bites, every guest has a chance to purchase a foot-square work of art by one of a hundred artists for $100. Shop and bop on Friday, October 26, from 6 to 9 p.m. at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street. Find more information and tickets, $40 to $50, at redlineart.org.

Madam Velvet's Cabaret of Oddities bridges Nancy Stohlman’s multi-sided oeuvre by fleshing out her new book of the same name.
Madam Velvet's Cabaret of Oddities bridges Nancy Stohlman’s multi-sided oeuvre by fleshing out her new book of the same name.
Courtesy of Nancy Stohlman

Denver flash-fiction genius Nancy Stohlman is more than a writer. She’s also a singer, performer and collaborator with piano man and composer Nick Busheff, and together, they bring stories alive on stage with a vaudevillian, carnival-esque flair. Their latest project, Madam Velvet's Cabaret of Oddities, bridges Stohlman’s multi-sided oeuvre by fleshing out her new book of the same name, released this month by Big Table Publishing ($15 in paperback). The stage version will double up with a book release on Friday, October 26, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, where you can see the zany show and buy the book (at a discount) at the same time. Such a deal! Get more info and tickets, $10 in advance, at nancystohlman.com; admission goes up to $12 at the door.

Tee up for tickled ribs on Friday, October 26, when Noonan's Nice & Naughty Comedy Show returns to Noonan's Event Center, 13521 East Iliff Avenue, for a 95th-birthday celebration for Jack Barton, father of host and fellow comedian Terri Barton Gregg. Filling Aurora's most inviting golf-course-adjacent reception room with good cheer month after month, Barton Gregg's showcase reliably presents Colorado's finest and funniest to an appreciative audience. Give yourself the gift of giggles with local favorites James Gold, Leif Cedar, Meghan DePonceau, Geoff Tice and headliner A.J. Finney, and make the evening extra-naughty by indulging in Noonan's diabolically delectable deep-fried Oreos. Admission is $10 at eventbrite.com (VIP is sold out) or $15 at the door.

Saturday, October 27

Artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes living and working in New Mexico, gets a solo showcase, In the Footsteps of My Ancestors, beginning Saturday, October 27, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Organized by the Yellowstone Art Museum, the show highlights Smith’s sophisticated investigations into both her Native and female experiences, aimed at righting historical mistakes and finding her place in a modern society. The exhibition runs through February 10 at the CSFAC, 30 West Dale Street in Colorado Springs; museum admission is $5 to $10, or free for students and teachers with ID. Find more details at csfineartscenter.org.

The Great Gatsby Zombie Ball returns to haunt Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club.EXPAND
The Great Gatsby Zombie Ball returns to haunt Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club.
Ken Hamblin

Indulge in gore, glamour and vintage jazz at the fourth annual Great Gatsby Zombie Ball, which returns to haunt Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club, 1330 27th Street, on Saturday, October 27. Bloody-up your fop and flapper get-ups, then join the throngs of dandified undead for a West Egg-worthy soirée of cavorting corpses at a pair of seatings, at 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. In lieu of human brains, you'll nosh on a three-course "Voodoo tasting menu" and wash it all down with the evening's special Fernet-Branca-based cocktail, aptly named "Wicked Liquid." Then you and your best ghoul can hit the dance floor when Gabriel Mervine and Tom Amend and Friends take the stage. Find tickets, $19 to $354, and more information at instantseats.com.

For the perfect blend of Halloween costume party and an appreciation for the arcane, Denver witches and warlocks need look no further than the Witches Ball 2018, a worthy pagan celebration with a “Witches of Stage and Screen” theme in 2018. Because pagans must dance, there will be plenty of live music and ritual drumming, along with a Flying Monkeys treasure hunt, a trivia quiz, witchy video clips and a costume contest on Saturday, October 27, from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Highlands Masonic Temple and Event Center, 3550 Federal Boulevard. Guide your broom accordingly; find advance tickets, $25, at denverwitchesball.com, or cough up $30 at the door.

The meals at MCA Denver's Dinner Society are always impressive and the setting enjoyable. But the next installment in the series, on Saturday, October 27, promises to raise the bar even higher: Ian Kleinman (of the Inventing Room) will be cooking a meal inspired by Tara Donovan's Fieldwork exhibit. The entire museum is currently taken over by Donovan's elaborate and engrossing site-specific sculptures, and there's no one in Denver we'd rather see interpret her vision on a plate than the wildly creative Kleinman. Tickets, $125, include a tour of the exhibit as well as a three-course meal (miso crepe with lemon crab, béchamel, coconut caviar and saltwater bubbles; hoisin and orange sous-vide pork with black-tea jelly and smoked potatoes; and mousse with peanut butter Pop Rocks, nitro puffed rice and a sugar slinky) and drinks from the Family Jones. Reserve your seat at eventbrite.com; the MCA is at 1485 Delgany Street.

Denver poet Julie Carr marries creative disciplines in an interesting way in her new book, Real Life: An Installation (Omnidawn Publishing, 2018), which provides instruction for artists, filmmakers and performers to follow through with installations of their own, in the process bringing Carr’s gut-wrenching words to life. Carr has invited forty real-life collaborators to do just that, and while the resulting physical works will live indefinitely online, she'll offer the public a chance to experience them in three dimensions starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 27, at Counterpath, 7935 East 14th Avenue. The evening will consist of screenings, in-house art installations and live performance by participating artists, and will double as a book party (signed copies will go for $17.95). Learn more at counterpath.org.

Get off your feet for the ladies in Nobuntu.
Get off your feet for the ladies in Nobuntu.
Courtesy of the Lakewood Cultural Arts Center

Nothing will get you up out of your seat to dance faster than Nobuntu, a Zimbabwean quintet of women who are talented both as a cappella singers and exuberant Ndebele dancers. The women, who accompany themselves with percussion instruments and bend their traditional lilt to combine a world-music encyclopedia of age-old melodies, jazz rhythms and gospel harmonies, will run through their high-energy show at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway, on Saturday, October 27, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.; prep yourself before the performance at an African dance workshop with the group from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Show admission starts at $20 and workshop registration is $30; reserve space for either or both at lakewood.showare.com/nobuntu.

No Halloween weekend is truly complete without plenty of costumed revelry, so scare up a good time at the Paranormal Palace, which returns to the McNichols Building in Civic Center Park starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 27. A ghoulish gala that transforms the historic venue into a three-story haunted-house experience, Paranormal Palace is an interactive feast for the senses replete with food-truck cuisine, name-brand hooch and expertly crafted outfits. The fearsome festivities include DJ dance parties and a costume contest with a $5,000 grand prize. A portion of the proceeds from sales goes to Global Orphan Prevention, so guests can can rest assured that they're partying for a worthy cause. Buy tickets, $55 to $129, and learn more at denverhalloween.org.

Sunday, October 28

Even the scariest silent movies can be a snoozefest when scored with second-rate public-domain soundtracks. To get the full experience, movie lovers must see them accompanied by live musical performers.  That's exactly what's going to happen when psychedelic hip-hop duo Hands of Midnight plays a live score to two classic films: the 1925 version of Phantom of the Opera and auteur extraordinaire Carl Theodor Dreyer's horror flick Vampyr, which the Alamo Drafthouse is billing as "one of cinema's great nightmares." The screenings start at 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 28, at the Sloan's Lake Alamo, 4255 West Colfax Avenue. Tickets, $12, are available at drafthouse.com.

A year ago, Juggalos, the much-besmirched acolytes of the slasher-movie-inspired hip-hop act Insane Clown Posse, marched on Washington, D.C., to protest the FBI's designation of the face-painted fans as a "gang." Decide for yourself if they had a point when ICP, which promises Faygo soda-pop showers, clown-style face paint and guts-and-blood lyrics at its live concerts, returns to the Front Range at 8 p.m. Sunday, October 28, at country bar the Stampede (yes, you read that right), 2430 South Havana in Aurora. The Posse will be joined by Clownvis, Dirty Rotten Rhymers, Swizzy J and Hex Rated. Find tickets, $10 to $175, and more information at eventbrite.com.

Be loud, be proud, at Secret Love Collective's Halloween Parade.
Be loud, be proud, at Secret Love Collective's Halloween Parade.
Courtesy of the Secret Love Collective

Monday, October 29

How do you wrap up an October exhibition and DIY costume-making LBGTQIA lovefest in a hard-to-find downtown Denver artist incubator? You dress up in your wackiest creations and take to the streets. That’s how the Secret Love Collective is topping off its October residency at Understudy, 890 C 14th Street, by hosting a Halloween Parade on Monday, October 29, from 6 to 9 p.m. Think of it as a “free-to-be whoever you are” event for folks of all persuasions, and just let yourself go. Find more information at secretlovecollective.com.

The wacky horror rock opera Killer Wigs From Outer Space takes audiences back to 1985, when an unlucky carnival worker named Orville is attacked by an extraterrestrial brain-eating parasite. But instead of killing Orville, the wicked bug turns him into a rock star who battles with a wicked media overlord for world domination. The Aurora Fox Arts Center, 9900 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora, brings the story to life starting at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, October 29, and will follow the production with a BYOW (Bring Your Own Wig) dance party. The whole shindig is a benefit for the Denver Actors Fund, which aids the overworked and underpaid theater community in times of need. For information and tickets, $25, go to aurorafoxartscenter.org.

In order to be considered for the 21 Best Events, we need information at least three weeks in advance. Send it to editorial@westword.com or Westword, 969 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203.

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