Best Leather Bar That Should Be Featured in Architectural Digest 2007 | Denver Eagle | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Best Leather Bar That Should Be Featured in Architectural Digest

Denver Eagle

Owned by two leathermen who sport backgrounds in furniture upholstery, culinary arts and retail clothing-store management, the Eagle is an unholy alliance of industrial chic meets bad-boy bar decor. James Ventrello and James Peck (aka Jim and Jimbo) are the couple who designed and crafted the 4,800-square-foot behemoth of a bar. After $400,000 of renovations and six months of blood, sweat and tears, the shiny new perv palace opened last May. The Eagle offers what you'd expect in a traditional leather bar -- dark corners, pool tables, pinball machines, dartboards, video games and a Sunday beer bust -- as well as the unexpected (luxe-loft look, private mezzanine bar, diamond-plate trim, concrete floors, modern lighting fixtures and two flat-screen televisions). These designer digs serve as stage to a $2 Sunday brunch, a heated outdoor smoking patio and a 1949 Ford vintage truck (parked indoors) that doubles as seating and an express lane for bottled beer and shots. Earlier this month, slow business forced a heavy-hearted Peck and Ventrello to ring the Eagle's death knell, but an angel appeared and saved the bar after its last scheduled Underwear Night. So was he wearing boxers or briefs?
J.R.'s is a great place to test your friends for closet homophobia. It's so unassuming and under the radar that if your friends aren't up on the gay scene, they might not recognize the name. When you walk up, the bar -- looking like something straight off Bourbon Street, with a row of warm white lights and an old-school balcony -- will welcome them. They may not notice anything's amiss until they see the Purple Rain video on the big screen above the bar. Sit back and order a beer, and see what your friends do. If they order brews and set a stack of quarters on the pool table to call next game, you're okay. But if they freak out and suddenly assume they're so irresistibly hot that every male in the room must bed them (never mind that the women at the last bar never even gave them a second glance), then it's time for an intervention. Either way, the clientele at J.R.'s will just smile and continue drinking their beers.
Courtesy of the hi-dive
In less than five years, the hi-dive has become a Denver institution. Many of the current top-shelf local bands got their start at this intimate south Broadway bar, which sits smack dab in the middle of the Baker neighborhood. And even though many of those groups can now easily fill places twice its size, they still make it down to the hi-dive to perform on a regular basis. Perhaps it's because the sound is fantastic and the club promotes local shows with the same vigor and enthusiasm as they would a national. Which makes sense, because frankly, when it comes to talent, there really isn't much of a distinction these days. Thanks to the prescient booking of Ben DeSoto, in addition to being a choice destination for the toast of today's blogosphere, the hi-dive has also become the place to discover tomorrow's indie-rock sensations well before they reach the masses' radar.
DC 10 was the hot new kid in town when it opened last summer, but things got a little too heated when a co-owner of the swank club was arrested on charges of drug trafficking. Yikes. Taking zero time to recover from the media hoopla, DC 10 went full-throttle into the SoCo nightlife scene, staying visible with a number of high-profile and upscale events. With a stark white interior modeled after a plush airport lounge, cute servers dressed as oversexed flight attendants and a clientele that includes local Trump wannabes, diamond-studded women and a few Nuggets, there's no telling how far this place can go. Now boarding.
DJ Brian Howe knows what it takes to set off the dance floor -- as well he should. The guy's been spinning in clubs for nearly two decades, has released over 200 mix CDs and remixed tracks for a variety of labels. Dude's on point, which is exactly why he was tapped to host his own XM radio show on the BPM channel. On Friday and Saturday nights, Howe brings all that experience to Rise, where he keeps the floor jumping with varied sets of mashes, breakbeats and hip-hop. In terms of sizable clubs, Rise is one of the last bastions of pure dance in LoDo, and with Howe at the helm, it looks to stay that way for a long time to come.
Once a month, the best party in town happens after hours. From 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Afrobeat, deep house and global soul music raise the roof of whatever warehouse is hosting the party. But it's not all about the music: Producers and hosts Peju Alawusa (aka Yorubawoman) and Ashara Ekundayo also invite performance artists to join in this multimedia extravaganza. And because AfroBlu is six hours of non-stop partying, there's also room for resident DJs Musa Bailey, Peter Black/Aztec and Joe Sherrel. It's a soul-shakin', booty-bumpin' experience that'll keep you awake and loving it all night long.
The screen displays a lone silhouette against the backlight. It moves sleekly and stealthily, like a cat. It's carrying a gun. All of a sudden, the music kicks in and the figure begins to dance, gyrating wildly. It's infectious, and it can only mean one thing: gogoLab, the ultimate spy dance musical consortium, is on stage and doing its thing. Every Wednesday at the Appaloosa Grill and every last Friday at Dazzle, channel Austin Powers as the gogoLab scientists mix their chemicals and make their magic. Bring your sidekick and your nemesis, because this dance-off is not to be missed.
Akio, the uni-monikered general manager of Tabu, is unmistakable with his trimmed eyebrows, slicked-skyward black hair and impeccably pressed suits. He can frequently be found making rounds throughout the club, all politician-like, shaking hands and beaming affably at patrons. His hospitality is infectious, and the rest of the staff is just as accommodating. Need a light? You got it. Need to freshen your drink? It's covered. Need an exotic dancer for your VIP table? Done. From the dance-friendly DJ selections to the top-shelf drinks to the community hookah, Tabu is an all-around crowd-pleaser. Oh, and the half-naked women bumping and grinding below at the Diamond Cabaret ain't too shabby of an added amenity, either.
As Club Evolution, the two-story building on the corner of 22nd and Champa streets seemed to be in a constant Darwinian struggle, first embracing the GLBT community and then later attempting to adapt to the hetero set. Both endeavors were for naught, as Evo eventually went under and later emerged with new owners, an immaculate interior facelift and open-to-all-party-people programming. Now dubbed the Loft, the space is decked out with way-slick lighting, lavish, roomy booths and ultra-modern flooring. Nightly DJs round out the calendar, and kitschy weekly events like Manicure Mondays and Headbangin' Sundays make this hot spot at the edge of Five Points a hip alternative to the otherwise oversaturated nightlife scene.
Eric Gruneisen
A huge improvement on its previous LoDo location, the newer, classier Soiled Dove was built from the ground up, with music as the focal point. Its crescent-shaped seating area was designed so that anyone seated in the 300-person-plus room would have a good line of sight. And while the sound in the LoDo Dove was great, the new Dove's system is damn near impeccable. Give these guys a standing ovation for building what might be the most comfortable place to see a show. Definitely reason enough to make the trek out to Lowry and hear this Dove sing.

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