Art News

New Five Points Venue Will Showcase Denver Music, Art, Food and Wellness

Iman Haidar, Corey Jacobs and Crystal Wiggins are opening Society Denver.
Iman Haidar, Corey Jacobs and Crystal Wiggins are opening Society Denver. Society Denver
Three longtime local creatives are coming together to make some magic in the Mile High City. And if Iman Haidar, Crystal Wiggins and Corey Jacobs hit their mark, Society Denver could be one of Denver's best venues when it opens early next year at 3090 Downing Street, a big building on the edge of Five Points that got its start as a church. The lineup of offerings they propose for the place is enticing and seemingly endless, including live music from local, national and international acts; yoga and meditation classes; body work; workshops; galleries for artists; healthy, soulful food; and even an apothecary and elixir bar.

“Our goal with Society is to set a precedent of what is possible in a community space in Denver,” says Haidar. “We are driven to offer more than just a physical space, but to fill it with purpose and inspiration for our community to flourish in. Keeping the synergy of the mind, body and soul as a guiding principle, we are committed to creating an inclusive space that fosters creativity, celebration and connection."

Denver Society has been a long time coming, though.

"The concept came around for me personally around May of 2019," Haidar recalls. "I realized having the intersection of art and music and wellness and healthy food and community is what really has helped me thrive, and I thought it'd be really cool to have a space that has all of it under one roof."
click to enlarge
A rendering of the Alive space.
Society Denver
She was introduced to Jacobs through a mutual friend, who said he was planning a similar project. "We realized that our concepts fit together like puzzle pieces," Haidar says. "It's really cool how fate kind of brought us together magically, and I've worked with Crystal for years and I've known her for years, and...she had plans to open up a venue anyway. I'm all about collaborating over competing. That's kind of my mindset for all businesses and everyone else doing things in Denver. So we decided to come together and it's been really, really awesome."

But not without its challenges. The trio found the building almost three years ago; it had been vacant since the Wrangler moved out in 2018. Before it became a bear bar, it was a members-only swingers' club, and before that, a slew of restaurants, from the Kiva all the way back to the Hacienda, which the MacIntosh family opened after converting the former church into an eatery. 

"The building is now owned by GHC Housing Partners, which is normally involved with developing affordable housing. We’ve been working directly with Alex Berbit, and a commercial space like this took some creativity and patience," says Haidar. "They didn’t want to just sign a lease with any business they could; they wanted a business that aligned with their values. Overall, they have showed up with such support for our success and truly believe in our concept and the value that we will be giving back to the neighborhood and community. They’ve been amazing to work with, and we feel really grateful to be in their building.

"The pandemic hit right before we signed the lease," she recalls. "So we kind of had some ups and downs with that, but ultimately, that place has always felt like where it's meant to be. It just fits so well. It flows so well. It has sectioned-off areas, but they all feel so symbiotic with each other. And now when I walk in, I can't imagine it being anywhere else."

The founders' ideas are backed up by years of experience. Jacobs opened Thrive in Boulder in 2015, and the popular vegan eatery was named a top ten Colorado restaurant by National Elite in 2018. He also has an audio engineering degree and is a reiki master and massage therapist. Wiggins had a background in music festival production, artist management and as an agent when she moved to Denver twelve years ago; she established herself here working with Beatport, Sonic Bloom, Sub.mission, Cervantes', UMS and Yeah Baby, a disco pop-up in RiNo. "I have been a talent buyer at multiple different events and festivals globally and in Colorado," Wiggins says. "I'm really looking forward to implementing the skills that I have."

Haidar also has a music background, having worked at Black Box and large-scale festivals from Tomorrowland to Burning Man. "I came out here around 2014 for school. I double-majored in biochemistry and integrative medicine, so I come from a strong science background. And then after that, I also went to the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism and completed the medical herbalism program, so I'm definitely gonna be infusing that into a lot of the stuff and [wellness space] Alive and the apothecary," she explains. "I'm also an avid yogi, and I help to co-run a performance company and an event company called Pyroglyphics. We do all kinds of performance art, such as fire dancing, aerial arts, belly dance, burlesque, contortion, all kinds of circus stuff. We perform internationally, and that's still running right now."
click to enlarge
A rendering of Thrive.
Society Denver
"We all have skills that are so beneficial for each section," says Wiggins. "We all really do have the ability to home in and work with each other to really make each aspect blossom."

Each floor will showcase a different aspect of the creative hub. Society Denver's first floor will be a second location of Thrive; the space will be filled with greenery and have enough room to allow for performances at dinner. "We'll have Iman coordinating aerials and different types of shows like belly dancing, and we'll have music theater events and different  dinner and theater experiences...for a full sensory experience," Wiggins says.

Performance art will also happen on the next floor, labeled Vibe. This will be Wiggins's arena, a sprawling space with VIP booths and a capacity of 600. "No one wants to be shoulder to shoulder at a concert," Wiggins says. Those concerts will include all genres of music. "We want to have local artists, we want to support the community," she adds. "We're so tied in with so many different communities with the music as it is, too, that we already have a ton of people ready to support us that are on an international, massive level."

During the day, the first floor will house pop-up galleries and be used as a general gathering and workspace, as well.

The third floor, Alive, will showcase Haidar's expertise. The wellness space will host many holistic offerings, such as energy and body work, sound baths, masseuses, yoga and more.

The building will also house a major mural project headed by Allie Grimm, aka A.L. Grime, named the Best Influential Muralist in the Best of Denver 2022. The project will involve twenty artists, who will paint both the interior and exterior of the space. Grimm's mural will be outside Alive, and will be created during the mural festival she is coordinating, Denver Walls.

"Allie's a longtime friend of mine," Haidar says. "She's also just an inspiring, badass woman powerhouse in her industry. We've worked together for years, and she's already curated a bunch of the murals that are up at the building."
click to enlarge
A rendering of Vibe's daytime look.
Society Denver
"She's also going to be our art coordinator throughout Society's time," Wiggins adds. "Everybody who has a mural is guaranteed to do an art show. We'll have a lot of different events such as that."

But first, the partners need to finish and staff the space. They are hiring for more than sixty positions and have created an IndieGoGo to reach a $50,000 goal, which will be used for purchasing more equipment, furnishing, employee training and renovations. Donors will receive perks ranging from yoga classes to food and membership deals.

"Society Denver is open to everybody. You don't need to be a member to access any aspect of it at any point in the day except for some select private events," Wiggins notes.

"We're very connected in the art world," she continues. "We have a friend who's going to be making us a custom chandelier. He's a glassblower here. There are so many cool little things like that, but we're just so excited to bring attention to these people at Society Denver. They deserve it."
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Emily Ferguson is Westword's Culture Editor, covering Denver's flourishing arts and music scene. Before landing this position, she worked as an editor at local and national political publications and held some odd jobs suited to her odd personality, including selling grilled cheese sandwiches at music festivals and performing with fire. Emily also writes on the arts for the Wall Street Journal and is an oil painter in her free time.
Contact: Emily Ferguson