Best Secret Denver Celebrity 2002 | Denise Nickerson | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
As a youngster, Denise Nickerson participated in projects that have garnered her eternal fame among members of two separate cults: She was in the cast of the 1960s gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, and she co-starred as Violet Beauregarde, the obsessive gum-chewer who turned into a giant blueberry, in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Nickerson subsequently left show business, and in April 2001, she and her son moved to Denver, where she works for an accounting firm. For the most part, she leads a low-key life, but she happily participated in promoting the thirtieth-anniversary DVD of Wonka. Given how star-starved Denver is (why did Gary Coleman ever move away?), it's nice to have her here.

Best Repeat Performance by a Denverite at the Grammys

Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves has definitely found her calling. The jazz diva, who was raised in Denver, won a Grammy Award this year for The Calling -- Celebrating Sarah Vaughn. It was her second consecutive win in the category of Best Jazz Vocal Album; Reeves won the same award the year before for In the Moment -- Live in Concert. Both albums were released on the Blue Note label, and both show off the former University of Colorado student's astonishing vocal range. For fans in Denver and around the world, the Grammy wins strike the right chord.
Twelve-year-old Akil LuQman promises to be a roaring success as an actor. On April 17, the Denver sixth-grader makes his debut as Young Simba in the road show of The Lion King. Catch him while you can.
Although it takes place early this year -- the first three weekends in April -- Silver Plume's annual community melodrama, performed by the Plume Players, should be filled with just as much tiny-town drama as ever. Don't Shoot the Piano Player, a nod to the old mining town's Wild West history, has a cast of ten (approximately 5 percent of the town's population); proceeds go to benefit historic preservation efforts.
The big wheels at Denver International Airport have done plenty wrong over the last year, but here's something they did right: They allowed the International Performance Series to continue inside the airport over the Christmas holidays, despite the post-September 11 security concerns that forced them to cancel it during the Thanksgiving rush. For more than a decade, musicians have roamed the concourses at DIA (and Stapleton Airport before it) during the hectic times of the year, entertaining travelers and easing the minds of anxious or delayed passengers. The variety of performers has been wide, with acts including Banda Felicidada, Camacho-Ransoli, Bill Barwick and Sons of Tumbleweed, and Boxty, a Celtic quartet, as well as city auditor and presumed mayoral candidate Don Mares, who performed as part of a folk duo. The series is managed by Meredith Gabow, who also runs a companion Web site at For her dedication, and for DIA's decision to resume the series, we offer a joyful noise.
It's possible that you have to live in Aurora to truly appreciate it, and sometimes even that doesn't work. But how many citizens of Denver's much-maligned suburb to the east actually know anything about the place where they wake up every day and go to sleep every night? Here's a way to learn. Staff members at the Aurora History Museum mined the museum's historical archives to develop a matching game pairing facts on flashcards to photos on a Bingo-style game board. Available for $13.95 at the museum's gift shop, the game might just be the next hot thing for proud Aurorans everywhere. Is it worth it? Bingo!
New York's got a bunch of songs; Chicago's got a few. Hell, even St. Louis has been the subject of a couple of ditties. So why not Broomfield? That's what Phil Long, who grew up in once-sleepy Broomfield, thought when he returned to his now-overgrown hometown after many years on the road as a singer and musician and found it to be almost unrecognizable. So Long, who is 37, wrote down his thoughts for "The Broomfield Song," which he performed in November at a ceremony marking the official beginning of Broomfield County, Colorado's 64th such municipality. "I should have stood the ground, I should have put up a fight," the lyrics read. "But when you've been away so long that you lose your way, I guess you've got nothing to say."
With the closing of a couple of clubland staples over the past year, the nocturnal socialite has fewer options from which to choose. Fortunately, Enigma Afterhours -- which began as Rezodanc in the spring of 2001 -- has swiftly filled the late-night void by opening its doors at the unsaintly hour of 1 a.m., Thursday through Saturday nights. With a mostly local and progressive roster of talent, including Friday-night sets from members of the prominent Casa Del Soul crew, the stylish Larimer Street locale has upped Denver's cosmo quotient considerably. A dedicated dancehound knows sleep is for wimps. So unplug your alarm clock, slam some Starbucks (or whatever elixir you fancy) and make a move for the dance floor. At Enigma, the beats go on.
What's the matter with kids today? Not a thing, if you ask the young crowds who populate Club Pulse, a Littleton hot spot that welcomes teenage patrons as well as the over-21 crowd. That's good news for younger hipsters who prefer to spend their Saturday nights on the dance floor rather than cruising the 16th Street Mall. True to its name, Club Pulse throbs to the sounds of hip-hop, R&B and DJ stylings, with music spinning into the wee hours on Friday and Saturday nights. (Sorry, kiddies, your time to shine ends with the midnight curfew.) Let's hear it for the boys -- and girls.
Last fall, when the Denver City Council was debating an ordinance allowing mixed-age crowds at cabarets, Rock Island owner David Clammage -- or, as his patrons know him, "Uncle Dave" -- was a vocal advocate of allowing local venues to provide safe and exciting entertainment options for the under-21 contingent. With his weekly All Agez Ragez, Clammage puts his booking policy where his mouth is. Every Saturday night until 11:30 p.m., the dark and buggy LoDo nightspot opens its doors to patrons ages sixteen and up; those eighteen and older are invited to stay until closing time. The Saturday-night fetes regularly feature revolutionary local spinners, including the Postman, DJ Harlan and Dave Granger. This is no mere kids' stuff.

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