Best Dance Party of the Summer 2014 | Global Dance Festival | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

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.

Last year's Decadence was the largest indoor EDM event in North America, with an attendance of nearly 40,000, and it happened right here. Colorado favorites Bassnectar and Pretty Lights headlined alongside Tiësto and Above & Beyond — and those were just a few of the acts to grace the stages of the Colorado Convention Center. Decadence has listened to the concerns of fans over the years and now offers free water stations and organized ticket lines. And the production features much more than just the DJs, with confetti cannons, balloon drops, lasers and panels upon panels of mapped LEDs.

Brandon Marshall

Art collecting can be a tricky business, one that requires a shrewd eye, knowing what you like and a knack for telling the future. The CSArt Colorado project replaces that trickiness with a treat. It invites "shareholders" to join for a $400 annual membership; in return, they receive a selection of five diverse works twice a year, drawn from a pool of twenty participating artists, both established and emerging. Shareholders choose from two ten-artist packages offered each year; 2014's first distribution event will be an outdoor party at the Denver Botanic Gardens in May, while BMoCA will host a second distribution and reception in the fall. It's the way to go if you like art — and surprises.

Last year, octogenarian Roland Bernier attempted to retire by mounting The Last Picture Show at Walker Fine Art. But it was not to be, as Bernier is still working. Moreover, his pieces are still being shown around town. For this attempt at retiring, though, Bernier created an array of pieces, all of which were covered with facsimiles of his last name. In one series, he covered women's high-heel shoes in paper emblazoned with his name. In a group of wall-hung pieces, "Bernier" was carried out in plastic mirrors laser-cut to form the letters. Bernier's been at it for sixty years, making it high time for him to be given a proper retrospective — before he really does quit for good.

Plus Gallery's Ivar Zeile and digital artist Ryan Pattie brought a different kind of spectacle and a feel for the future to the streets of downtown Denver last summer when, with help from the Denver Theatre District, they presented Denver Digerati, a series of curated motion-based artwork on the DTD's jumbo second-story LED billboard at 14th and Champa streets. The five programs changed focus each month by featuring works, sometimes on a theme, from a local and/or international pool of artists, ending with a presentation of works commissioned from seven artists by the DTD for its permanent collection. A gallery showcase by the artists coincided at Plus, and all seven received stipends, which smoothed the road for their contributions. We're looking forward to seeing what this season brings to Denver Digerati's big screen.

Denver Disco has gathered the previously disconnected nu-disco scene in Denver at a weekly night featuring some of the genre's best acts. The synths of yesteryear, pumped up with some modern-day bells and whistles, are still getting people out on the dance floor — and then some. Bar Standard, the host venue for Denver Disco's weekly event, creates the perfect party ambience, with a wall-sized mirror, a VIP area behind the stage, and a 360-degree bar for serving drinks all around. Who says disco's dead?

John Moore, the onetime Denver Post theater reviewer who now works at the Denver Center, started the Denver Actors Fund last year to help theater people with medical crises. The goal, he says, is "immediate, situational relief" in cases of "great and sudden medical need." The amounts of money aren't huge, but they're enough to cover wheelchair rental, for instance, or other medical supplies — and anyone who has lived in the area three months or more and worked at a theater in some creative capacity is eligible for help. Moore's idea galvanized the theater community: Several companies have donated a percentage of ticket revenues, other supporters have mounted benefits; and there's an online merchandise store selling posters, puzzles and T-shirts. Moore is now staffing action teams with volunteers who will run errands, plan meals, organize fundraisers and help with needed construction projects, such as ramps and railings.

Professional concert promoters are rarely seen at their own concerts. They're so busy (or jaded) that fans almost never catch them in the crowd or at the bar, let alone swinging windmill fists in the mosh pit. But Zach Smith is not your average concert promoter. He's not even a professional in the strictest sense: At 24 years old, Smith has promoted concerts at "unofficial" venues in New Mexico and Colorado since before he could legally sign a contract. Denver's hardcore scene has benefited to the tune of at least one or two extra ten-dollar shows per week featuring rowdy local bands, touring acts that could not get booked elsewhere, and groups that would rather play a warehouse than a bar. Zach faced adversity in 2013 as property owners forced him from two different locations, but he continued undaunted to Helm's Deep II. It's a venue that touring bands would write home about — if only they could give out the address.

DJ Ktone was once dubbed "The Turf DJ," and even though he rarely uses the moniker these days, he is still Denver's favorite turf DJ. Every year at the beginning of March, the often disparate corners of urban culture join together to celebrate Ktone's birthday, bringing out old favorites and new blossoming stars. This is the sound of Denver music, encompassing West Coast and East Coast, R&B singers and street characters alike. Every year, Ktone gets a break from the tables while fellow DJs take over. Last year's host was Turner Jackson, who caught the crowd off guard with his energy and style. But rapper Foo Man stole the show, performing his song "Me So Horny" in a bathrobe.

Cold Crush is a little slice of hip-hop heaven, layered with morsels of goodness at every level. You might accidentally catch a legendary DJ there, just doing his or her thing on the wheels. DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill stopped in on June 22, delivering a truly surprising set that went way beyond his more well-known production work. If you're headed to the popular bar/juice bar/venue, arrive early. The place fills up with patrons of all backgrounds, and you never know what big names might walk in.

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