Talking about immersive arts in Denver without mentioning Meow Wolf, the Santa Fe-based entertainment behemoth, has become a challenge. The relative newcomer to this city’s scene started as a dumpster-diving arts collective back in 2008; it was long viewed as a sister project to Denver DIY hub Rhinoceropolis. But over the years (and thanks to a massive cash injection from Game of Thrones author George RR Martin, which made smash hit The House of Eternal Return possible), Meow Wolf has turned into a multimillion-dollar corporation, with plans to open permanent installations in Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Phoenix and Denver, of course.
All of this raises the question: How DIY is Meow Wolf these days? Not very.
Co-founder and former CEO Vince Kadlubek has long touted the virtues of do-gooder capitalism and turned the collective into a B Corporation; he stepped down in 2019 and was replaced by three new executives, who had been bigwigs at Walt Disney Imagineering, Goldman Sachs and LucasArts and Lucasfilm. Now Meow Wolf is immersed in a collaboration with AEG Presents Rocky Mountains, the dominant Colorado concert promoter; together they've created Dark Palace, which organizers call a “dance obscura.”
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"The programming and booking of Dark Palace is a collaboration between AEG Rocky Mountains and Meow Wolf," explains Meow Wolf spokesperson Maya Sarin. "Denver, as you know, is a hyper competitive environment. Meow Wolf definitely wants to find the right relationships that enables us to be an awesome platform for artists. Meow Wolf staff does the booking for Santa Fe. Noah Kessler is our primary buyer here and he did a lot of the booking for Dark Palace as well. Regarding the future, we’re all about making magic happen. We’re especially excited about April’s Dark Palace."
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The first edition of the music festival in late November, which showcased EDM heavyweights and some over-the-top production, was received with mixed reviews. But apparently it was enough of a success for AEG and Meow Wolf to try again. Not even six months later, Meow Wolf will resurrect Dark Palace, once again installing it at the National Western Stadium Arena, 4655 Humboldt Street, from April 9 through 11. The lineup includes a mix of national acts, including Malaa, G. Jones and Space Jesus, alongside such locals as Maddy O'Neal and Erin Stereo.
If dance parties aren’t your thing but you want to experience Meow Wolf in Denver, you’ll have to wait for the massive local facility to open sometime in 2021. For more information about Dark Palace and Meow Wolf’s various projects, go to meowwolf.com.