During a crowded punk rock show last spring, deep inside the 15th Street Tavern, a bassist for Hemi Cuda shot a sudden I-can't-hear-myself glare toward the sound guy. The sound guy, in turn, leaned over to the toe-tapping, head-bobbing man standing next to him, Denver police officer Steve Gonzales. What happened next could be considered a peace offering in the long-troubled history of punker-copper relations: After receiving his directions, Gonzales scurried up on stage, studied the knobs on the bass amplifier, pinched the volume knob, and turned it up. "He's a really cool guy," says Tavern manager Scott Campbell of his blues-playing crowd-control cop. "All the Tavern employees dig him." As do bass players and patrons.
Named after an intoxicating plant that induces a feeling of relaxation and euphoria, Soma boasts an aphrodisiacal atmosphere that has steadily made it one of the most innovative clubs in the state -- and the nation. Brothers Hardy and Lucas Kalisher have made a regular habit of bringing national and international talent into the Boulder den; in the past year, dance-world superstar DJs such as LTJ Bukem, Mark Farina and Alec Gopher have all graced the turntables of the posh and intimate club. This brotherly pair is doing its best to dance all over the area's cowtown reputation -- and succeeding blissfully.

Readers' choice: The Church

Named after an intoxicating plant that induces a feeling of relaxation and euphoria, Soma boasts an aphrodisiacal atmosphere that has steadily made it one of the most innovative clubs in the state -- and the nation. Brothers Hardy and Lucas Kalisher have made a regular habit of bringing national and international talent into the Boulder den; in the past year, dance-world superstar DJs such as LTJ Bukem, Mark Farina and Alec Gopher have all graced the turntables of the posh and intimate club. This brotherly pair is doing its best to dance all over the area's cowtown reputation -- and succeeding blissfully.

Readers' choice: The Church

The magic of El Chapultepec is hardly a secret. The small, smoky rectangle of a club has a long history of hosting both local and traveling jazz greats, and owner Jerry Krantz's involvement with and interest in Denver's lively jazz scene is well known. Over the past several years, the Pec's location in the heart of LoDo has pretty much served as a guarantee that the place will be jumpin' no matter what night of the week it is, even if the people clamoring for booths and bar space couldn't tell Thelonious Monk from Mickey Mouse. No matter: Even when relegated to the standing-room-only sections of the bar, a person would be hard-pressed not to feel the energy surging through the place. Whether it rises out of the consistently excellent duos, trios and quartets that grace the stage night after night or expresses itself in the lively exchanges that take place between the folks on the floor, it's there.

Readers' choice: El Chapultepec

The magic of El Chapultepec is hardly a secret. The small, smoky rectangle of a club has a long history of hosting both local and traveling jazz greats, and owner Jerry Krantz's involvement with and interest in Denver's lively jazz scene is well known. Over the past several years, the Pec's location in the heart of LoDo has pretty much served as a guarantee that the place will be jumpin' no matter what night of the week it is, even if the people clamoring for booths and bar space couldn't tell Thelonious Monk from Mickey Mouse. No matter: Even when relegated to the standing-room-only sections of the bar, a person would be hard-pressed not to feel the energy surging through the place. Whether it rises out of the consistently excellent duos, trios and quartets that grace the stage night after night or expresses itself in the lively exchanges that take place between the folks on the floor, it's there.

Readers' choice: El Chapultepec

There's a world going on underground at Brendan's Pub, Denver's subterranean home of the best in local and national touring blues musicians. The windowless, smoky space has the authentic charm of an out-of-the-way Chicago bar, and when the acts take the small corner stage, it's clear that what Brendan's lacks in adornment, it more than makes up for in consistently superlative musical performances. The food -- usually ordered directly from the cook through a little kitchen window -- ain't bad, either. Order up some fries and shoot a round of pool during soundcheck, then settle in for an evening of down-and-dirty sounds.

There's a world going on underground at Brendan's Pub, Denver's subterranean home of the best in local and national touring blues musicians. The windowless, smoky space has the authentic charm of an out-of-the-way Chicago bar, and when the acts take the small corner stage, it's clear that what Brendan's lacks in adornment, it more than makes up for in consistently superlative musical performances. The food -- usually ordered directly from the cook through a little kitchen window -- ain't bad, either. Order up some fries and shoot a round of pool during soundcheck, then settle in for an evening of down-and-dirty sounds.

Club Synergy continues to be the best place to stop after the bars close and your buzz hasn't worn off yet. DJs Amtrack, Quay, Foxx and Pepper keep the folks on the dance floor moving into the wee hours. A safe haven for Denver's insomnia-prone clubgoers.

Readers' choice: Amsterdam

Club Synergy continues to be the best place to stop after the bars close and your buzz hasn't worn off yet. DJs Amtrack, Quay, Foxx and Pepper keep the folks on the dance floor moving into the wee hours. A safe haven for Denver's insomnia-prone clubgoers.

Readers' choice: Amsterdam

Formerly the Blake Street Baseball Club and then the LoDo Music Hall, this location on the corner of 19th and Blake has suffered a bit of an identity crisis over the past few years. Luckily, the place has been reborn as a dazzling new club with an emphasis on DJ and dance music. With its new lighting and decor (the metallic dividers in the restrooms are futuristic and fun), a new sound system and multimedia toys like mounted video screens suspended in high corners, Bash is a welcome addition to the LoDo clubscape.

Readers' choice: Bash

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