Before BAD was officially BAD, Dede Frain founded the social network that would grow into Babes Around Denver on the strength of a little First Friday gathering in 2002 that quickly outgrew one venue after another. She began to organize other lesbian networking and singles events, started a website and newsletter, and last year finally left the mainstream workforce and went full-time in her role as big BAD girl. Since then, Frain has added a women's business series with guest speakers and has a million other ideas up her sleeve. For gals who love gals (as well as their gay and non-gay pals), BAD is good.
"I don't follow trends. Trends follow me." While we'd be hard-pressed to pinpoint the exact origin of that declaration, if might as well have come from Peter Black (aka DJ Aztec, aka Pete Gurule). For well over a decade, this shapeshifting DJ and promoter has been exposing us to styles ranging from acid jazz and trip-hop to drum-and-bass and Afrobeat to electro and indie rock. Recently, he's even added space disco and psych rock. Here's to going Black to the future.
Sure, you know who was president during the Spanish-American War. But how about the language — other than English — featured in the Pixies song "Debaser"? If you can answer that one, you just might have what it takes to win a bonus round at one of the many Geeks Who Drinks pub quizzes around town. Four times during each quiz, participants get the chance to answer a random question, and the first one to show the correct (and legible) answer to the quizmaster wins a free drink and bragging rights for the night. Even if the useless trivia rattling around in your brain consists of nothing but TV commercials from the '80s or bad reality TV, fear not: One of the greatest things about the Geeks is that they have a round for everyone. This could be your lucky night.
Too bad Mexico has already laid claim to Cinco de Mayo on its calendar, because that country doesn't do anything to celebrate the alleged holiday — whereas here in the Mile High, May 5 is a party worthy of celebration. One weekend a year, generations of Denver's Latinos head toward Federal Boulevard in their lowriders and whips, rolling on fat chrome wheels or bouncing on hydraulics with traditional gold spokes. The result is a cross between a car show and a parade. Some vendors peddle Mexican flags — even though half the people who come out to celebrate were born on this side of the border — while others sell tacos in the street. Teenage lovers hold hands, parents push strollers and point out the pimped-out cars to their kids. Aside from a couple of knuckleheads, the festivities are usually peaceful, and Denver makes sure there are more than enough police officers on hand to make people feel comfortable — or uncomfortable, depending on who you are.
Oskar Blues Grill & Brew
Oskar Blues
You have to love the way the folks at the Oskar Blues brew castle wear their roots-rock affinity on their sleeves. After all, what goes better with a cold Old Chub than a dirty-good, salt-of-the-earth blues band? Maybe a honky-tonk or alt-country combo puttin' down a riff in a room that would be smoky if it could be? Join the free music club at www.oskarblues.com and get access to free monthly downloads of selected music from a changing roster of smaller indie labels such as Big Bender, Yep Roc and Bloodshot. We'll drink to that.
Denver Art Museum
Courtesy Denver Art Museum
Who would have thought that the coolest Friday-night party around would be at a stodgy art museum? But sure enough, on the last Friday of every month, the Denver Art Museum turns itself into a lively all-ages club, complete with local DJs or bands, a cash bar and a host of kooky activities — guided meditation in the Asian galleries, séances surrounded by selections from the Louvre, pedicure operations painting miniature artwork on your toes — that are sure to get those cranky old curators bristling behind their bifocals. The events are free with the normal price of admission, and they end by 10 p.m. — leaving you plenty of time to hit the town and act like the drunken buffoon you really are, knowing that you've already gotten your fill of high-falutin' culture.
Chris Adolf, leader of Bad Weather California, has that ineffable "it" factor that sets him apart. When he's on stage, it's almost impossible to look away, and when he's really on, his performance is both epic and breathtaking. Adolf could easily turn that kind of power to evil as the leader of a cult or corporation, but luckily for us and the rest of the world, he's focused that energy on doing good musically.
The voice and singing style of Bela Karoli frontwoman Julie Davis is a perfect match for the group's smoky, sultry, future-lounge sound. Her vocals are seductive, touched with a hint of danger, and wrap sensuously around the exotic, jazz-tinged music, subtly casting Davis as a classic femme fatale. Between songs, though, she comes off as funny, sweet and charmingly earnest. It's not quite the Madonna/whore paradox that so many guys find compelling, but it's close enough to be all but irresistible, while still 33 percent less offensive to feminists. Bela Karoli is good because it has an appealing, torchy sound and strong songs, but it's Davis's up-front presence that really counts.
Live@Jack's
Eric Gruneisen
Skip Reeves isn't called the "Funktogolist" for nothing. Dude knows his funk, which becomes obvious when you listen to his Saturday-night show on KUVO, "A Funk Above the Rest." He's working overtime spreading the funk gospel, and in his quest to make Denver one city under a groove, he's been hosting the 1st School of Funk every other Tuesday at [email protected]'s. There, in addition to laying down everything from Larry Graham and Funkadelic to the Gap Band and Kool & the Gang, Reeves also brings in some the city's finest funk outfits, such as Soul School and Funkiphino.
Robischon Gallery
Last spring, Robischon Gallery put together a beautiful and coherent exhibit that highlighted a range of contemporary abstraction while showcasing the work of more than a dozen artists, each with a personal aesthetic vision. To create this dazzling show, the gallery started off with a series of works on paper by an international star, Ellsworth Kelly. Then, mining its stable, Robischon brought in a bevy of other notable artists, including Brad Miller, Kris Cox, Trine Bumiller and Scott Chamberlin.

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