Blush & Blu

Jody Bouffard has had the corner on Denver's lesbian bar scene for years. While other venues and owners have come and gone, Bouffard has continued to create safe, comfortable spaces where lesbians and the broader LGBTQ community can drink, socialize and flirt. Her newest enterprise, Blush and Blu, is no exception; it's gained a reputation for friendly bartenders and a warm, inclusive environment. Located at the site of her former tHERe Coffee Bar and Lounge, right next to Voodoo Doughnut, this is a bar and coffee shop wrapped into one venue that promises everything from Texas Hold 'Em tournaments to drag-king performances, pool, standup comedy and even yoga.

Tracks
Keith Garcia

If you want to get sweaty in a tight room with a bunch of hot women who like women, head to Tracks Nightclub on First Fridays for Babes Around Denver (BAD), which has been touted as the largest lesbian night in the country. The evening starts with line dancing and turns into a party that rages till the bar closes, with a mob of women — ranging in age from 21 to 75 — getting sweaty and shaking their booties into a frenzy.

Z Art Dept.

Collin Parson's day job is as the visual-art director at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, but he moonlights — emphasis on lights — as an artist who uses light as a medium in his strikingly bare-bones wall sculptures. Last summer, Parson mounted a survey of sorts called Reworked: The Collin Parson Experience, which focused on his pierced boxes with internal light escaping through various slits and openings. These sculptures are strikingly simple, being merely boxes with lights in different colors. But their effects were great, even in the daytime, when the lines and bars of light in the boxes gently glimmered. But at night, with the gallery's lights out, it was out of this world, looking something like a minimalist disco.

Makers work in many fields, but they all have a few things in common, including an entrepreneurial spirit and the talent for something — be it brewing or crafting or cheese-making or canning homemade pickles or providing chemical-free beauty services — that people need and want but can't find just anywhere. That's why Colorado Makers was started: to give small, artisanal businesses the benefit of a like-minded community for networking, while also creating a stronger public face for members as a whole. A lot of what's happening at the grassroots level in cities like Denver begins with such local communities; Colorado Makers helps assure a bright future for small-business growth.

TRVE Brewing
Danielle Lirette

Metal may sound like a frenzied assault of cruel screams and wicked drum-pounding made by what looks like a crowd of shabby, bearded misanthropes. But TRVE Brewing owner Nick Nunns is out to prove that it doesn't have to taste like cheap domestic garbage. TRVE has made metal palatable for Denver's music scene since 2012, creating beers named for bands like Absu (Eastern Candle), Darkthrone (Circle the Wagons) and Denver metal favorites Speedwolf (Death Ripper). Patrons sip Stout O))) with fellow metalheads at the brewery's long Viking-style table, while bands like stoner-metal legend Sleep replace the bubbly Top 40 hits one expects elsewhere. The occult-oriented work of local artist Sam Turner adorns the beer's labels and the brewery's walls. Denver's metal-and-beer scene has its first landmark.

Denver's metal kingdom has flourished in recent years, partly because of contributions from transplants like Sherwood Webber of the New York-based death-metal band Skinless. After his band broke up in 2011, Webber moved to Denver and worked behind the scenes producing concerts for AEG Live. Using his industry connections and a Skinless reunion as bait, Webber and AEG's Danny Sax worked with Denver's Black Sky Brewery last year to assemble a lineup headlined by Dying Fetus, Exhumed and Ghoul and featuring up-and-coming acts like Weekend Nachos, Power Trip and Iron Reagan. No band refused the invitation to join the fun. Speedwolf, Call of the Void, Primitive Man and Black Sleep of Kali were just a few of the local names that completed a nineteen-band, three-stage slate that took over the Gothic Theatre and Moe's BBQ. Plans for the 2014 edition are under way.

Lola Black's badass copper mic stand made its concussive debut last June, when the band performed at Broadway's during the Westword Music Showcase. The stand was given to lead singer Lola by a seriously devoted fan, Josh Saucier, who's a metal fabricator. The idea for the head-butting brass-knuckle design came from the band's merch dude, Brad Tachibano, and guitarist Paige O. It's an eye-catcher, always a crowd-pleaser and a friendly reminder that Lola Black can — and will — kick your ass.

The Clocktower Cabaret
Eric Gruneisen

What better soundtrack for Denver's finest comics than tunes from the city's best indie bands? As obvious as the pairing may seem, it took the combined efforts of the Greater Than Collective, Illegal Pete's and the folks from Lannie's to make it happen — and the partners have cooked up a monthly gathering that's bound to become a cherished local tradition. Past events have featured A. Tom Collins, the Ian Cooke Band and Snake Rattle Rattle Snake on the music side, and comics Kristen Rand, Ben Roy and Sean Patton on the other. One of last year's installments even tapped into community goodwill for a bigger, nobler cause: The show featuring Adam Cayton-Holland and Bad Weather California was a fundraiser for Mike Marchant, a well-loved local musician undergoing chemotherapy. Forecast for 2014? More of everything.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

When you snuggle up with a dreamy date, the stiffest, smallest movie-theater seats start feeling plush. The true test of movie-theater comfort is to go solo and sit between two strangers in a crowded theater — and there is no theater to which we would rather go alone than the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Here even a giant among men would have sufficient legroom and enough space to wiggle, shuffle and lean back and forth without annoying his gargantuan pals. The Alamo also provides ample space for servers to walk, crouch and bend, so if you need to escape mid-movie, you never bump knees, stomp toes or whack someone in the face with your oversized posterior. The tables provide plenty of room for concessions, and the seats are easy on both your back and your butt.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Could a chocolate-chip cookie save the world? Until you bite into the warm, crispy exterior and molten inner gooeyness of the cookies at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, hold your bets. Even home-baked cookies taste stale compared to these. Beyond the cookies, the Alamo offers melted butter — real butter — drizzled over popcorn that is served up in silver bowls, and burgers with patties charred to perfection on buns that caress your mouth and come with a panoply of toppings: prosciutto, goat cheese, pesto and Hatch green chile, to name just a few. There's also a hefty list of adult milkshakes, such as the Grasshopper Shake, with crème de cacao, crème de menthe and vanilla ice cream, as well as standard-fare cocktails and a long list of craft beers. If you're looking to pack dinner, drinks and a movie into one unforgettable binge, get to the Alamo Drafthouse, now.

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