Dulcinea, what did we do before you were born? Stellar live jazz, blues and funk blare -- or sometimes ooze -- from this Colfax lair six nights a week. A laid-back, hip Capitol Hill crowd helps give Dulcinea's the pervasive feeling of comfort; there's no pretension, just casual cool among the clusters of grungy-yet-comfy sofas and sturdy coffee tables. With older siblings Sancho's Broken Arrow and Quixote's True Blue guiding her way, Dulcinea has already turned into a beautiful lady.


Herman's Hideaway
Eric Gruneisen
It's not the most high-profile club in Denver, nor the biggest. Still, when local bands snag that first weekend slot at Herman's, they know they've reached a benchmark in their careers. One of the few clubs outside LoDo to offer -- and need -- valet parking, the Hideaway has helped launch the careers of groups such as Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Opie Gone Bad. Today, newcomers get a chance to break in during twice-weekly showcases of new talent, and on busy nights, the dance floor is a swirling mass of grooving chaos. A casual crowd and friendly, family-feeling staff make Herman's a fun place to go even if you don't know who's playing. And even if you don't like the act on stage, you won't want for entertainment: Sooner or later, someone will get drunk and provide a sideshow. Just don't let it be you.


Larimer Lounge
Jeff Davis
Many of the lofts in the Ballpark neighborhood sit empty, casting a ghost-town pall over the area during daylight hours. Still, upper Larimer Street got a considerable jolt of life late last year when the Larimer Lounge opened as a music venue with a formidable calendar. After taking over the space, formerly a watering hole known as the Sunshine Lounge, owners Scott Campbell and Mark Gebhardt managed to fill the joint with that nebulous thing known as a good vibe. With live bands and DJs seven nights a week, the rectangular room has already hosted some of the indie world's about-to-break bands, as well as seasoned locals and more experimental -- and green -- acts. During happy hour, local regulars and hepsters congregate for cheap draft beer beneath a gilded ceiling. Larimer Lounge, welcome to Denver.
Lion's Lair
The Lion's Lair might be just a cub in Denver's club kingdom when it comes to size. But in terms of character, it's elephantine. Whether the live music is punk, alt-country or straight-up rock, expect the experience to be intimate. On packed nights, patrons are often within spitting distance of artists on the stage. Local and small touring indies dominate the calendar, but bona fide legends working the small-room circuit sometimes show up, too. Yes, the layout is impractical, the feng shui is way off, and when the place is busy, navigating your way to the bar may require militaristic strategy. And what, exactly, is wrong with that? The beer's cheap, the jukebox is soulful and solid...and you can always ask the bartender to hand you a pair of earplugs.


Bluebird Theater
There probably are people who miss the Bluebird Theater's days as a porn theater, but we doubt many of them are music lovers. Unlike skin flicks -- which arguably should be viewed in the privacy of your home, trailer or motel room -- the live-music experience is genuinely enhanced by a proper theater-style environment, and that's just what the 'Bird provides. With sculpted capitals, restored Victorian-style paintings and a vaulted ceiling, the place is as much a work of art as any of the touring and local bands that grace its stage -- and that's no knock on the talent. The Vegas-style marquee regularly lights up with some of the most important names in independent music, as well as locals ready to leap out of clubs and on to a bigger stage. The Bluebird remains a feather in Denver's live-music cap.


Boulder Theater
Britt Chester
The Boulder Theater is not the kind of place you go to get loaded on cheap beer and talk through a performance. Audiences in the palatial, deco-style hall come to actually listen to music, and for good reason: The Theater's schedule is so eclectic and well-rounded, there really is something for everyone to pay attention to. A fine jazz series, hip-hop and rock performances and dynamic high-concept shows from local artists help fill the Boulder nights; monthly e-town tapings are a fun, interactive experience as well. This lovely, historic space offers as much for your eyes as it does for your ears.
Gothic Theatre
Perched high in the Gothic Theatre's cavernous rafters, the bar at the back of the balcony is the optimal place to quaff a drink at a show. Its lofty location allows for a near-bird's-eye view of the stage as well as the theater's lively art-deco interior. The atmosphere is cozy and unlike that of any other bar in metro Denver. Sleek, dark and enticing, this watering hole is more like a watering zenith.


It's a tent! It's a theater! It's a fully modular, collapsible, portable music venue, planted smack dab in the middle of the Pepsi Center parking lot during warmer months. Replicating a seasonal venue that's been successful in Boston, CityLights was unfolded last spring as a joint partnership between two powerful local forces, Clear Channel Entertainment and Kroenke Sports. And though the maiden season didn't pack 'em in quite as much the suits might have liked -- due, in part, to a sluggish concert season and a saturated summer-concert calendar -- the tent itself is a lovely, luminous structure with a thoroughly urban feel. Let there be Lights.


Carioca Cafe (Bar Bar)
Carioca Cafe, also known affectionately as "BAR," after its generic neon sign, squats on the desolate corner of 21st and Champa. The astoundingly cheap drinks and great Tuesday-night DJs Chuck and Brian attract a strange mix of clientele: scooter folk, indie rockers, Joe Hundredaires and, of course, your typical crusty, decrepit barflies. But these barflies bring their girlfriends, and therein lies the spectacle. Petty jealousies seethe and bristled fur flies when riled up by too many 75-cent Pabst Blue Ribbons and one-buck wells. We're not talking bitch slaps here: This is knock-down, drag-out, table-upending tavern combat, with two-inch manicures drawing blood like the talons of some mythical Maybelline-dripping beast. And there's not even a cover!

Best Place to Sing Along Drunkenly to Marvin Gaye

Streets of London Pub

Streets Denver
Every Thursday night at Streets of London Pub, DJs Rob Hostetter and Dan Shattuck spin the sweet, deep sounds of '60s soul music. Shattuck focuses on the Jamaican strains of rocksteady and ska, but Hostetter specializes in northern soul -- the stomping, exuberant, dance-inducing style of American R&B originally championed by British DJs over three decades ago. His sets slide smoothly from the pounding beats of Edwin Starr to the satiny funk of Young-Holt Unlimited, mixing Motown standards with the most esoteric 45s. There's no dance floor at Streets, but that doesn't stop the white kids from spazzin' out like they're on some goofy Anglo version of Soul Train.


Best Of Denver®

Best Of