The Six Best Places to Party Like a Racehorse on Derby Day in Denver

These Derby Day revelers ditched the mint juleps for Coors Light.
These Derby Day revelers ditched the mint juleps for Coors Light. Westword

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Danielle Lirette
May 5 through May 7
4400 Fox Street

The party starts at TheBigWonderful on May 5 and will be going strong by Derby Day. Here you may be able to smell the margaritas on your neighbor's breath beneath the rising scent of mint and bourbon. These die-hard party animals started drinking on Cinco de Mayo, and are keeping this bender going into Sunday, too – for whatever the hell the Siete de Mayo is (In this case, International Hangover Day). Now you’ve begun to find your people: those who drink, who eat and who enjoy a party that bleeds from one holiday into another. They’ve already been listening to Burn It Blue and Andy Thorn & Friends, and after you all watch the race – slightly puzzled as to why you wasted those two precious minutes of your life – you can enjoy Pickin’ on the Beatles while mixing all that whiskey with beer. The Night Bazaar begins at six, and you can shop to your heart’s content and listen to, yep, Pickin’ on Deadphish, another round of Andy Thorne & Friends and then Jeff Austin & Friends.

Denver Mini Derby
Denver Mini Derby
May 6, 1-6:30 p.m.
Stanley Marketplace

In case TheBigWonderful is just too big, try the Denver Mini Derby at Stanley Marketplace. We don’t know who looks weirder: the quaffed miniature horses and the Welsh corgis forced to race, or the Derby-hat wearing revelers. At the expense of these cute – and sort of pathetic – animals, this event bills itself to be the most fun Derby party anywhere. Yes, anywhere – even more fun than the Kentucky Derby itself.

click to enlarge Money Plays 8 at the Derby in Los Angeles. - COURTESY OF JAMES LEO
Money Plays 8 at the Derby in Los Angeles.
Courtesy of James Leo
Seventh Annual Kentucky Derby Party, featuring Money Plays 8
May 6, 4:20 p.m.
The Bar Car

Still looking for action? Saddle up on a stool at the Bar Car, on Colorado Boulevard, where Money Plays 8, one of Denver’s legendary neo-swing bands that broke up years ago, has reunited to bring blaring horns and boozy music to the Derby crowd. (It's hardly the act's first pony show.) Now you’re drinking and listening to swing music and knowing that as you poison your liver, proceeds from the event will benefit the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – so it all balances out in the end, right?
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris