Best Club Night 2003 | Velcro KittenThe Snake Pit | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Under the guidance of Buffalo Exchange co-owner Todd Colletti, DJ Quid has returned to the Snake Pit alongside DJ Wyatt Earp, bringing a trunkload of the electro sounds of artists such as Miss Kitten, Peaches and Fischerspooner. Who knows how long the sound will last? Who cares? For now, the fashion/music craze has beautiful gay boys, model wannabes and local rock stars all working the dance floor like a runway in Berlin.

Call it a social experiment. Borrowing an idea born in San Francisco, the Denver Guerrilla Queers and their leader Billie Trix have just one mission: Each month, they round up gay clubbers, mix them into a straight establishment...and shake well. Usually, everyone winds up dancing, drinking and hanging out together - but we can't help wondering if anyone switches teams for the night.

Contrary to popular belief, straight men love to be ogled by gay men. But going from "God's gift to women" to "God's gift to all mankind" can be difficult, even for the most cocksure heterosexual. Most of the gay clubs make the mistake of blasting their diva ballads so loud that an honest man can't tell if he's being sexually objectified or given the evil eye for some fashion faux pas. However, the laid-back country-Western atmosphere at Charlie's acts as a soothing balm to the inner skittishness of straight men. It brings back memories of the campfire, the horseplay, the too-small tent with the too-thin sleeping bags that maybe would be warmer if zipped together. It's a comfortable reminder that all men alike base their lifelong decisions (and actions!) on the attention they receive from other men. Or maybe it's just the cheap nightly drink specials.

In an increasingly fractured world of clique-catering clubs, now is the time to celebrate La Rumba for bringing far-flung splinter groups together. Every Friday night, the club that is famous for its salsa, tango and merengue dancing plays host to 0/2 (Oxygen), and it truly is a breath of fresh air for Denver gaydom. Leather men mix it up on equal ground with disco boys to the sounds of a DJ-fueled techno beat that is hot enough to provoke shirtless dancing, yet chill enough to induce the blooming of wallflowers. Men of all ages (21+), shoe sizes and titles of royalty party under the watchful eye and rugged refreshment of the beautifully bartenderizing action of Travis, whose smile alone is worth the price of a drink. The thrifty get free admission before 10 p.m., $5 after. Finally, there is a place where we can all just get along.

The Fox Hole deserves more than a Best of Denver award. It deserves to be made a national historic landmark. The proud and blessed gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered and questioning people of Denver also know it as a World Heritage Site and Universal Spiritual Power Center. Not just for its massive outdoor patio, but because it's the only bar in town in which each and every one of us has gotten lucky at least once. The combined energy of the GLBTQ community has kept our secret little hangout in the train yards going strong for years. We've danced to the rhythm under that giant cottonwood tree throughout two economic booms, three busts, a sports-bar name change and a complete neighborhood transformation. It's the big backyard we outdoors-loving urban Colorado queers turn to each and every summer -- even though each and every summer is rumored to be the last.

In the heart of LoDo rather than up in that slightly scary warehouse district, Engima Afterhours is 21st-century fresh, not '90s stale. The decor is a notch above the basic black-paint-on-wood look found at many other late-night locales, and this newish addition to Denver's club index pumps out the latest sounds in electronic music for the small but sprightly wee-hours scene.

Occupying the remodeled space formerly known as Sanctuary is the officially unnamed club every glow-stick waver in Denver is calling "Butterfly" because of the chrysalis symbols on the club's fliers and the giant butterflies suspended above the dance floor. Whatever its appellation, we just applaud the club's unusual reliance on local DJ talent instead of overpaid out-of-towners: Hometown heavy hitters the Pound Boys, Nutmeg, DJ Sense and Vitamin D fill prime-time slots. We also favor the cyberpunk decor, the abundance of chill space, the massive multimedia screen and the courage of the club's new owners in booking hip-hop into their side room at a time when most LoDo club owners have been scared off.

Molly Martin
The past year saw several venues abandon original heavy metal, forcing bands and fans to run for the hills -- or the suburbs. Fortunately, Bottoms Up was waiting in Aurora. With a new name, new owners and a newly renovated interior, the bar formerly known as Heimmie's Pub quickly established a reputation as a place headbangers could feel comfortable. Little touches -- such as treating the bands decently and having a local-scene-savvy musician (Mark Sundermeier, of the non-metal Sad Star Cafe) do the booking -- entice more established area metal bands to play alongside newcomers. Heavy music doesn't rule the roost every night, but when it does, prepare to be rocked like a hurricane.

Heavy-metal fans, leather up and break out the earplugs. House of Rock's black-clad lineup of head-banging hard rock and metal proves that angry music never dies -- it just fades from radio airplay. House of Rock operates from a nondescript warehouse building in Northglenn and features original local and regional bands like Brutal Infliction, Concrete Sandwich, Rogue, get the idea. For House of Rock patrons, it's all in the name: You'll find no flaccid, strummy "alternative" bands on this stage, thank you very much. Acts rotate frequently in the smallish space; it's often standing room only on weekends, with revelers lined up five deep at the bar. There's an enclosed outdoor patio to escape to when the smoke, screaming guitar and double bass begin to overwhelm your senses.
Eric Gruneisen
All the cowboys in cowtown know that for the best country music, you've gotta go where the rose is grizzly. Even the Country Music Association named the Grizzly Rose one of the top clubs in the country. The huge complex offers free dance lessons on Wednesdays, weekly performances from local C&W bands, and a roster that brings some of Nashville's hottest names to the Grizzly stage. A mechanical bull for aspiring buckers and an apparel shop for wannabe cowgirls are among the attractions. But the gigantic hardwood dance floor is the biggest draw. Nobody beats the Grizzly when it's time to dance up the dust. Yee-haw!

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