The circus has already been in town for a week, swinging high at that Pepsi can, but the true circus experience -- the nostalgic, intimate one pervaded by popcorn and manure -- can only be had at the Denver Coliseum. The 134th Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus moved there yesterday for the second half of its Denver run. Catch this edition -- with audience-tweaking clown David Larible, sky-high heel-hanging horse-charmer Sylvia Zerbini, Jason Peters and his playful lions, Chinese acrobats, splendid tightrope walkers and even a pair of clowns who walk upside-down on the ceiling -- up close and personal at the Coliseum today and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. or three times daily on Saturday and Sunday. For tickets, $13 to $21, call 303-830-TIXS or visit www.ringling.com.
You didn't know it was National Food Bank Week, did you? Just in the nick of time, too, around these parts. Food banks have been in the news anyway, for supplying last-minute provisions to welfare families cut off by a massive computer glitch. One of the biggest relief organizations in the area, Food Bank of the Rockies, will be the big recipient tonight when Westword hosts the annual Menu Affair. There will be a Steel Chef competition, with Eric Roeder of Bistro Vendome and Tim Maness of Samba Room going toque to toque, and a wide variety of tasty signature dishes from local eateries. As if anyone ever needed a real reason to pig out! Do so with a good conscience from 7 to 11 p.m. on the East Club Level at Invesco Field at Mile High, 1701 Bryant Street. Call 303-296-7744 or log on to www.westword.com for $25 advance tickets, or pay $35 at the door.
Friday, October 15
This isn't your typical open house: When the Hannah Kahn Dance Company sets out the welcome mat at Open Studio, its new Baker neighborhood facility, this weekend, curious attendees will be treated to more than crackers and cheese. The ensemble will premiere Breeze, an original musical by local Brazilian musician Dado Sa, tonight at 6 and 7 p.m. and tomorrow at 3, 4, 7 and 8 p.m. A $5 donation is requested, and wine will be available for $5 a glass while guests scope out the group's fine new digs. Open Studio is at 75 South Cherokee Street; for details, call 303-789-4181 or log on to www.hannahkahndance.org.
Another celebrated Front Range dance troupe, Helander Dance Theater, takes to the stage this weekend with an annual performance marked by a change of pace. After several years of presenting works inspired by international cultural exchanges, choreographer Danelle Helander -- whose travels were curtailed by funding cuts -- chose to address global themes. In the evening-length Miscalculations of the Heart, she and two collaborators follow their protagonist through various experiences, finishing in the final segment with the image of a Chinese bamboo plant that grows a few inches a year until the fifth year, when it shoots up eighty feet. Helander presents her own "eighty feet" today and tomorrow at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut Street, Boulder. For tickets, $12 to $15, call 303-473-9438; for information, go to www.thedairy.org.
Any party that celebrates rum has got to be out of this world, which just might explain the thinking behind Bacardi's Limón: 3003, a national club-night event dubbed "retrofuturistic" by the sponsoring booze producer. Here in Denver, the spacey commercial-come-to-life lands at three different clubs, beaming rocket-ship dance platforms, go-go dancers, VJs, performance artists, illuminated cocktail tables and white-wigged clone-bot cocktail waitresses into each for consecutive nightly galas. The fun begins tonight at Lotus, 1701 Wynkoop Street, continues tomorrow at Blue 67, 1475 Lawrence Street, and wraps up Sunday at Monarck Lounge, 1416 Market Street. For details about events at Lotus and Monarck, call 303-718-6666 or log on to www. lotusentertainment.net; call Blue 67 at 303-260-7505 or go to www.blue67.com.
Saturday, October 16
True, true: There's nothing more frightful than a Great Dane in a tutu. And it just could happen at today's FrightFest Pet Parade, an annual animal masquerade hosted by Six Flags Elitch Gardens. Pets of every size and description, dressed to the nines, will strut through the amusement park today at 1 p.m., while competing for titles such as Funniest, Most Original or Best Pet/Owner Combination costumes. Entry fees, $15 to $20, benefit the Denver Dumb Friends League; to sign up your best friend in advance, call 303-572-4522 or visit www.sixflags.com/elitchgardens for an entry form. Six Flags Elitch Gardens is at 2000 Elitch Circle, off I-25 at exit 212A.
Nothing can transport urbane Denverites back to their cowtown roots quicker than Urban Cowboy, the Ascent Foundation's annual cowboy-themed gala to benefit SafeHouse Denver. That's because Ascent offers the works -- mechanical-bull riding, lassoing, country-line-dance instruction, chuckwagon cooking and live music by the Railbenders, along with a silent-auction fundraiser -- to all the gents and ladies attending. Come party in your ten-gallon topper tonight at 7 p.m. at the Walnut Foundry, 3002 Walnut Street; for tickets, $60, call 303-302-6112.
Sunday, October 17
At the Holy Trinity School of Music in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, young musicians attending the school's orchestra program lack the tools they need, such as instruments and sheet music, to learn their trade.This condition didn't escape Colorado violinist Cynthia Katsarelis, who will travel to Haiti next month to work with students under the auspices of the Colorado Haiti Project. But she hopes to bring more than expertise with her: To raise money for new musical equipment, Katsarelis and a string quartet will be joined tonight by organist Brian du Fresne for Music for Haiti, a benefit concert of works by Mozart, Holst, Vierne and others. Hear them play at 7:30 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine Street, Boulder, for an $8 donation; for more information, call 303-442-5246 or log on to www.coloradohaitiproject.org.
Monday, October 18
One of rock's most complex angry young women, PJ Harvey, continues to mature. That growth shows on her recently released, stripped-down CD, Uh Huh Her, in which she turns her back on mainstream dalliances. It's all pure, raw Polly Jean, which should translate well on stage. Harvey brings her caterwauling repertoire to the Ogden Theatre, 935 East Colfax Avenue, tonight at 7 p.m. For tickets, $33.25, call 303-831-9448 or go to www.nipp.com.
When you lend a helping hand at today's Drive for Life 7 blood drive, you're bound to get a needle stuck in your arm. But the Bonfils Blood Center will make it worth your while to be drained of a precious pint. Throughout the mass blood-letting (the event is billed as Colorado's largest single-day community blood drive), members of the Denver Broncos organization, including players, alumni, cheerleaders and galloping mascot Miles, will pump hands and sign autographs. The drive takes place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Invesco Field at Mile High, 1701 Bryant Street; vampires need not apply. For information, call 303-363-2300 or visit www.bonfils.org.
After that, you'll be hungry, so why not sate your appetite and do some more good: Food Bank of the Rockies lucks out again during today's Eat Out to End Hunger, an event where you can do just that. A gigantic number of metro-area restaurants have offered to donate a portion of tonight's food sales to the cause, and according to the Food Bank folks, it's a great deal all around. They say one dollar translates into five meals for their hungry constituents. For a complete list of participating restaurants, which serve everything from good, cheap eats to gourmet goodies, log on to www.foodbankrockies.org/eatout.
Tuesday, October 20
Members of the local drag group Denver Cycle Sluts don't just masquerade as women. The campy do-gooders also double as fundraising dynamos, using their collective charms to support local charities. No wonder they've been around for 25 years. And one of their biggest fans turns out to be Mayor John Hickenlooper, who's rumored to be the guest caller at the monthly Denver Cycle Sluts Bingo night, 8 p.m. tonight at Broadway's, 1027 Broadway. Hick and the girls will bingo to benefit the Rape Awareness and Assistance Program. For details, log on to www.denvercyclesluts.com.