Club Vinyl

The rooftop at Vinyl is easily the coolest place in town to light up and party down. The spacious open patio includes fire pits surrounded by cushy seating, breathtaking views of the downtown skyline and Front Range, and bar service featuring cheap drinks and sexy bartenders. In this rarefied setting, you're sure to find kindred souls — or at least someone with a spare lighter. But even if you don't indulge, Vinyl's rooftop is one smokin' place to be.

Soiled Dove Underground
Eric Gruneisen

Good music deserves good drinks to go along with it, but not all venues offer great cocktails. Compared to the watery whiskeys and eight-dollar Heinekens found at many clubs, the Soiled Dove Underground is a booze-lover's oasis. Along with the venue's classic Colorado cocktails, all made with spirits from local distilleries, there's a beer roster heavy with local craft beers — and it's a good bet you won't find another music venue in town where you can buy a bottle of O'Lillo Super Tuscan wine. Fancy-pants drinks not your style? The bar also sells PBR tallboys and pours its well drinks nice and strong.

Curious Theatre Company

There's almost nothing as funny as watching people behave really badly — and though Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage doesn't have a lot of depth, when the playwright lets loose the force of her ferocious, unforgiving intelligence, there's definitely a lot of bad behavior. The two couples involved, Michael and Veronica and Alan and Annette, exhibit no real feelings; their rages don't make sense, their quarrels are meaningless, affection is non-existent. These people are like human bumper cars set loose on a track — and in the Curious Theatre production, with its elegant set and first-rate cast, their collisions were hilarious.

The Clocktower Cabaret
Eric Gruneisen

Those looking for laughs without a pesky two-drink minimum can find solace on the last Sunday of every month, when the glamorous Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret hosts Propaganda! At Matt Monroe's free comedy night, you can catch priceless sets by such local favorites as Adam Cayton-Holland and Ben Kronberg, as well as big touring names like Sean Patton and Beth Stelling. As a bonus, street parking is always free on Sundays — and Sexy Pizza even provides free-slice cards. This night comes just once a month, but you can laugh all the way to the bank in the meantime.

Ogden Theatre

Prince doesn't obey regular human rules. Last year, despite his arena-filling popularity, he announced that he would do a tour of small venues across the country, playing multi-night runs in each city. In Denver, that meant a three-night, six-show residency at the Ogden Theatre. The kicker was the $250 ticket price. But anyone who ponied up the money got to spend some relatively intimate time with the Purple One and his new band, the all-female 3rd Eye Girl. Drawing from the considerable breadth of his career, Prince treated audiences to alternate versions of classic songs in addition to more faithful renditions.

Ironton Studios & Gallery

The prime challenge for a representational artist working in the contemporary-art arena is to come up with something that looks new. And since artists have been mining realism since the days of the cave painters, that's not so easy to do...which made the handsome and tastefully installed Roots — New Drawings by Heidi Jung a show to remember. Jung zeroed in on the roots and shafts of plants, which she rendered with staggering accuracy in charcoal and ink on architectural vellum. The vellum was laid on birch panels, making frames unnecessary. Jung's drawing style is elegant, with the tangled complexity of the roots and shafts set against the bareness of the surrounding blank vellum in just the right combination. Despite being examples of straightforward realism, depicting dead plants, no less, Jung's drawings somehow looked utterly fresh.

MCA Denver
JC Buck

Canadian-born Denver artist Ian Fisher has an interesting strategy for picture-making: Create photo-realist paintings of the sky unmoored from the landscape. For Critical Focus: Ian Fisher — which is still open — MCA curator Nora Burnett Abrams took an in-depth look at the artist's recent cloud paintings. Despite Fisher's careful realism, there's an undeniable abstract quality to the compositions, and at times they seem to almost melt into color-field territory. Though each depicts the same subject, every canvas is different and has its own unique palette — just like the clouds.

Crafting mavens Becky Hensley of Denver Craft Ninjas and Anne Davidson of the Colorado Bead Company got together last year to create a haven where crafters of all skill levels can share ideas and techniques or just work together side by side. The huge Park Hill facility offers a dizzying selection of classes that cover not only a cornucopia of crafting skills, but also such market-savvy subjects as "Etsy for Newbies" and "Crafting Your Blog Pitch." Share Denver's DIY spirit makes it a go-to for all crafters, whether they're hobbyists or looking to craft a living out of making things by hand.

Beta

Do you feel a need to dance in the dark with strange people, to music your parents don't understand? According to Rolling Stone, Beta is the best place in America to do it. Beta's immense reputation and even bigger sound system draw some of the greatest electronic musicians from around the world. In addition to the main stage, there's the Beatport Lounge, an intimate club-within-a-club where you'll often find local DJs spinning their own brand of dance music. Beta is a LoDo fixture, and it's a large part of what keeps late-night thrill-seekers coming back to the neighborhood.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

What started out as Rave on the Rocks has transformed into the biggest dance-music festival in the region. Global Dance Festival has pushed the boundaries of the genre in past years with headliners like Empire of the Sun, Kid Cudi and LMFAO, but festival promoter Triad Dragons Entertainment remains dedicated to its EDM roots. Global stages are packed with the biggest dance acts in the world, many of whom are making their first appearance in the Denver market. All dance styles are represented at the equal-opportunity festival, from chill downtempo to feverishly upbeat drum-and-bass, and they'll have you on your feet well into the night.

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