Ziggies has been a frequent Best of Denver winner, and for good reason. Even when some upstart new spot comes along to try to snatch the award away, we always come back to the unassuming Ziggies. Why? Well, for starters, live music seven nights a week from local and national blues acts on a solid system (and no cover on weekdays) — including the long-running Sunday-night blues jam. Also, inexpensive drinks (craft beers and well-made mojitos among them). An odd and unpretentious selection of snacks that are trashy in theory but delicacies in the middle of a shot-and-a-beer kind of night (think Red Baron frozen pizza and Marie Callender's chicken pot pie). Periodic poetry jams (and a house poet) that keep the Beat vibe alive. Open pool tables between music sets. The most important reason, though, is that everyone is welcome here. And we do mean everyone.

Readers' choice: El Chapultepec

Gaining momentum last year through a series of monthly after-hours parties hosted by James McElwee in a converted house basement, 1010 Workshop has grown into a compelling destination for underground electronic and dance music. 1010's self-determined ethos and practice helps the venue circumvent the glossy, overpriced sheen of Denver's corporate club culture, with McElwee bringing in more challenging national acts while supporting locals — including affiliates of the Deep Club label, who push the dance-music envelope.

Readers' choice: Upstairs Circus

Don't want the weekend to end? Head to Lola Mexican Fish House, which ups the ante on its Sunday happy hour by offering free shows by local bands (members of the Congress were regulars before they went off on tour) that often feature guest appearances by visiting musicians craving good margaritas and more intimate settings. In good weather, when the curtains of the patio are rolled up, this is as close to a beach party as you get in Denver.

One of the most fun ways to relax on a Friday night, Ominous — also known as goth night at Tracks — is an awesome excuse to indulge in music, drinks and good times. Tracks is a GLBT club, and while the monthly dance night is definitely alternative-lifestyle-friendly, you'll find couples of every persuasion — including just plain straight — out on the floor. DJs playing classic and modern industrial music are accompanied by coed dancers on the stage. There's also a monthly theme, and everyone is encouraged to dress up (this is Denver, after all!). Underground-music fans, mainstream dance fiends, true goths and more are sure to find something to love at Ominous.

Readers' choice: Mile High Soul Club

With decor and ambience inspired by the Korova Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange, Milk Bar caters to an eclectic crowd Wednesday through Saturday nights. Perhaps best known for its goth-oriented nights — explicitly so on Goth Wednesdays and less obviously so on Saturdays with Mixtape (which has a New Wave room) — Milk harks back to a time when EDM and its antecedents didn't completely dominate the playlists. Because of this, it attracts one of the most diverse crowds of any dance club in the city. Though completely legitimate, Milk feels like a speakeasy — the entrance is in the alleyway behind 1037 Broadway — run by benevolent weirdos with good taste.

Readers' choice: Tracks
Jeff Davis

What's a great rock club but four walls and spilled beer? Yet therein lies the formula for facilitating live-music magic, which is just what happens at Larimer Lounge. Rather than assert a dominant personality or aesthetic, the Larimer appears to be little more than a hodgepodge of humble pieces. Its back-room venue isn't temperature-controlled, which encourages crowds to pack together even more tightly, and its low stage increases the feeling of intimacy. You can run into your favorite musicians in the upstairs bathroom — and now would be the time to say hi, because bands that play the Larimer are on their way up and soon graduate to larger venues. The club's energy leaks out the doors and into the bustling neighborhood nightlife, and with a revamped food cart in front and a new music festival happening on the block this spring, the Larimer proves that a great rock club transcends its four walls.

Readers' choice: hi-dive
Courtesy Mutiny Information Cafe

It may have no stage, no bar and not the best sound system in the world, but it's what happens inside Mutiny Information Cafe that matters. This bookstore/record store/venue/hangout on South Broadway stacks its calendar with film screenings, lectures, concerts, comedy shows and live podcast tapings. Basically, if you're not into what's happening at Mutiny, wait an hour and something else will inevitably pique your interest. There's also a pinball machine, a coffee bar and your friendly neighborhood conspiracy theorist hanging out between the books and records, just waiting to share his theories on global warming. The best part? It's the only all-ages venue on the strip, and events are donation-based, meaning Mutiny Information Cafe is a place where anyone can come along for the wild ride.

The building at 608 East 13th Avenue housed the venerable Snake Pit for nearly two decades before the Beauty Bar took over in 2010. When that venue closed last June, co-owner Mike Barnhart and manager Tucker Schwab spent the next few months transforming the space into a super-cool dance club and music venue on one side and a neighborhood bar on the other. Pearl's hosts the ever-popular Motown Thursdays — with free chicken and waffles — as well as other weekly and monthly dance nights.

Readers' choice: Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

As a talent buyer for Syntax Physic Opera and a resident of Denver DIY treasure Rhinoceropolis, Madeline Johnston has a serious stake in the local music scene. Unafraid to mix it up, she takes venue booking to the next level, curating shows based on raw sound rather than genre. A typical Johnston bill might include an experimental electronic act, a jazz quartet and a hip-hop artist all sharing the stage (or floor). Johnston's intentional soundscapes provide an atypical experience for show-goers — bar crowds and warehouse regulars alike. An active musician who also runs cassette-tape label Tinyamp Records, Johnston is fully immersed in the music that's happening right now, allowing her to put together some of the freshest and most interesting concerts in the metro area. Fans might go to a show to see their favorite rock band and discover a noise artist they've never heard of — all because of this promoter's ingenuity.

Brandon Marshall

While the Denver Botanic Gardens' summer concert series is a decades-old tradition, Swallow Hill, which took over booking, producing and promoting the concerts there in 2010, has helped turn the series — which also includes a few shows a year at the DBG's Chatfield location — into a universally sold-out affair. The 2015 series boasted a wildly diverse lineup that included local legendary bluegrass outfit Hot Rize, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Boz Scaggs, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Culture Club, Melissa Etheridge, Ziggy Marley, Gipsy Kings, and a stop on Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club's final tour.

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