Every DJ in the Casa Del Soul crew excels at his craft. They all know how to read, and lead, a crowd. They all religiously mine the record bins at Casa Del Soul Records (owned by the collective's founder, Nate Uhlir). And they all play out regularly at the biggest dance clubs in Denver. But if you favor a hybrid style that seamlessly splices house with techno, East Coast with West Coast, then Ty Tek must top your list. Groove to it.
New clubs come and go, but there's really no challenging the staying power or superiority of Boulder's Soma. Less a traditional venue than a full dance-music environment, Soma maintains its status by constantly revamping its future-tech vibe and opening its spinning space to talent from all record crates and corners of the world. The club's excellent local residents spin hard house, techno and trance, and they hold their own against out-of-town guests. Local clubheads, along with the international media, have recognized that this little spot is Soma-thing special.
The price for a table inside Club Sanctuary's luxuriously appointed and well-guarded room for special people is $200 for the night, which is right in the range of the club's competition and still includes your first bottle of premium liquor free. Split between four people at a table, that's not bad, especially since it also buys the doting attention of a scorching-hot cocktail server who will find something to compliment you on within three minutes of your meeting (go ahead, time her). Recently renovated under the direction of Kaylene Martinez -- a former Denver nurse turned professional V.I.P.-room designer and manager -- this room-behind-the-rope is superbly lighted (the fire wall/water wall effect is gorgeous) and smoothly run. Martinez treats pro athletes and big-spending suburbanites with the same well-oiled courtesy.
There's got to be a morning after -- sooner or later, you're going to have to open your eyes, listen to that hammer hitting your head and remember every stupid thing you did last night. Well, almost everything. Pure, the nightclub that occupies the old Casino Cabaret, makes a good argument for facing the music sooner: the Recovery Room. This semi-regular Sunday bash starts early in the morning, ends by noon, and in between pours out the bloodys and pours on the soothing, "morning progressive trance" music, with Pure owner Kostas Kouremenos acting as DJ.
Every Friday night, the glam, the gay and the gorgeous converge on the newly renovated 60 South on Broadway for Lipgloss, a welcome new addition to the face of Denver club life. Friendly, funny bartenders (who just might ask you to sample new drinks they've concocted on the spot), an energetic but open vibe, and a daring crew of revolving DJs who don't follow any single sound or style combine to make Lipgloss shimmer. Regular DJs Tim Cook, Tyler Jacobson and Michael Trundle play everything from Blondie and Bauhaus to exotica and Euro-pop, occasionally clearing the booth to allow guest spinners to step up to the tables. Revolving exhibits from area visual artists add an aesthetic element to an event that will already stimulate -- and titillate -- you.
Devotees of house music are advised to start the week off right by checking into Skunk Motel, the wildly popular theme night at the Snake Pit hosted by Denver's DJ Skunk every Monday. Those with fun-forbidding Tuesday-morning commitments, or those who merely wish a bigger chunk of dance floor for themselves, will find an attractive alternative on Phrunky Fridays, where the Pit's resident house guru, DJ Little Mike, consistently rocks the house. Red Bull and Stolichnaya "legal speedball" specials are guaranteed to have you singing "Who wants the Phrunk?" in two rounds or less.
On Mondays, 1515 hosts Textiles, a weekly beat happening that fuses the prolific talents of local jazz saxophonist Pete Wall with those of Denver trip-hoppers Equulei, various live percussionists, and turntablists from the Mile High House crew, including Ivy, Todd Colletti, and Tom Hoch. Together these players cut a deep, chilly, down-tempo groove that makes for exceptionally easy yet edgy listening, dancing and socializing. The crowd usually peaks a little after midnight. Until then you can always get a table, though this new night should start to pack out before long. For now, there's no cover charge.
The Snake Pit is little more than a black box, but the music that fills it on Thursday nights is legendary. Breakdown Thursdays are one of the best and best-known jungle/drum 'n' bass club nights on the planet. To be sure, the fluttering drum beats and cortex-rattling bass lines are an acquired taste, but there's no better serving of the stuff to be found than the Pit, where the biggest names in the genre drop records weekly. The fact that Diesel Boy, the reigning monarch of the style, played for free there earlier this year is a testament to the obvious: Breakdown has blown up.
B.J.'s Port, a cozy neighborhood bar in Five Points, features jazz only on Sundays, from 4 to 8 p.m. But what music! Pat Bianchi, a hard-driving young jazz organist, leads a smokin' trio composed of the fine Boulder guitarist Bill Kopper and drummer Tony Black, a whirling dervish with the quickest sticks in the business. On vocals you've got singer/actor Ed Battle, who's a Denver institution and a blues master. Saxophonist Billy Tolles may fall by to sit in, along with other Denver jazz players with time on their hands. Hungry? How about some barbecue, with a mess of collard greens and crowder peas? All this, and the sun hasn't even set.
Not much has changed at El Chapultepec over the past couple of decades -- not the interior, not the food menu (the beef-and-bean burritos go surprisingly well with bebop), not the fact that the place is packed like a submarine on Saturday nights. Owner Jerry Krantz knows there's simply no need to try to improve things. The teeny club is perfect as it is: a vibey, swingin', smoky little joint where the stage is almost always occupied by the best players in town. For an authentic jazz experience, head to Market Street.

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