Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom

Nearly every night, Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom plays host to local DJs and other rising talents, giving them the opportunity to showcase their craft in front of lively audiences — while also giving Denverites something compelling to do throughout the week, making the uphill climb to hump day bearable and the downhill slide into the weekend smooth and invigorating. This year the owners made renovations to the main floor of the old theater, adding a larger stage and relocating the soundboard; the result is a venue where you know you'll always find a party, no matter the day or the performer.

Denver Art Museum
Courtesy Denver Art Museum

The artist at the center of Charles Deas and 1840s America had quite a story. Charles Deas was from a once-prominent family in Philadelphia; after studying art in New York, he headed out west to record the previously undocumented people and places in the area. And then, after producing a body of incredibly accomplished work on the Indians and the wilderness where they lived, he was declared insane and committed to the Bloomingdale Asylum at the ripe old age of 29. He was still institutionalized at Bloomingdale when he died nineteen years later. (Deas's depictions of Indian braves as either beefcake studs or dreamy twinks give us more than a hint at what his "mental" problem was.) This major scholarly undertaking was put together by the world's foremost Deas scholar, Carol Clark, and it was a worthy salute to someone who helped invent the genre of Western art, an approach that is still going strong a century and a half later.

Beauty Bar

Humor-related studies have explained the dearth of women in comedy by suggesting that jokes are a form of social competition for men, who go for the laughs more often because it elevates them in status among their peers; women, on the other hand, aren't socialized in the same way. Whatever the case, comedy is a goddamn sausage party — and that's exactly why the world needs more stuff like Ladies Laugh-In, where women just as cynical, embittered and attention-starved as their male counterparts can get enough stage to go for the big yuks. Started last July by comedienne Heather Snow not long after she got her start at open mikes and decided she wanted to see a little more X-chromosome representation around town, the monthly comedy night dropped anchor at Beauty Bar and immediately took off, hosted by musician Chella Negro and featuring the cream — both male and female — of the local comedy crop. Still, the spotlight here is on the ladies, and they're using it to shine.

On April 17, 2010, local musicians Kaz Bemski and Lindsay Thorson opened their home for the day-long Who's Having Fun? Fest. The event had a simple goal — to allow everyone to enjoy music in a booze-free, drug-free and smoke-free environment — and the fest more than accomplished that. Dream Wagon played a set on the porch, Pollination Population threw down a screwed-tape session in the living room, and Candy Claws crammed its whole family-style band into the basement for a performance. The building that housed the Who's Having Fun? Fest has since changed hands, but it's still a hub of creativity: Stephan Herrera and Colin Ward (aka Alphabets) recently threw a successful art/house show in the same space.

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