Best Drag (R)Evolution 2017 | Yvie Oddly | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

For some performers, drag only runs skin deep. But for Ultimate Queen Yvie Oddly, aka Jovan Bridges, drag is about more than putting on makeup and a dress and lip-syncing to a pop hit, more than entertaining the masses. For Oddly, drag is a way of expressing your innermost personality, coloring outside the gender lines and using the platform to make a real statement. As a result, there's crackling electricity whenever Yvie takes the Drag Nation stage or leads her own Odd Hour show at Tracks: What you're about to watch is not only going to break the rules of everyday life, but the rules of what drag is supposed to be, as well.

The last few years have seen the drag population in Denver expand tenfold, which means that more and more queens are looking for a spot where they can lip-sync their hearts out. While Denver lost a few stages over the past year, it gained Blush & Blu, a cozy bar and coffeehouse that has been expanding its relationship within the gay community and offering its space for many different types of performances. And no one has embraced the place as much as this city's drag stars. Blush & Blu takes pride in its new role, and has secured a critical item any would-be drag stage needs to be legit: a spotlight to show off the faces and hard work of our fiercest performers. The future looks bright!

For nine years, RuPaul has turned every season of RuPaul's Drag Race into a gay holiday; viewers make a fourteen-week commitment to see who'll emerge as the next drag superstar. Here at home, that devotion inspired the Ultimate Queen Competition, which takes the best new drag talent in Denver and stages its own battle royale. If you want to take Denver's drag temperature, catch an Ultimate Queen night; you'll soon see who's polished and who's about to become polish remover. Gentlemen, start your engines — and may the best woman win!

"This is the top of the nation!" For eight years, Tracks has taken host Nina Flowers's clever tagline to heart when describing its Drag Nation show, a drag spectacle on the last Friday of every month. On this stage, a queen can realize the fantasy she's been dreaming of her whole life, complete with lights, stage decor and dancers — via the talents of the hot and nimble Denver Dance members. Most important, these performers get to share the spotlight with Nina and the talented cast members who've all earned their place on the showbill. While Drag Nation also celebrates the guest talents of RuPaul's Drag Race, our own homegrown hotties are the real stars of the show.

If a single party has earned the right to be engraved on your calendar, it's the Circuit Saturday jam that takes over Tracks every first Saturday of the month. The fun themes are announced weeks early so that you can start pulling together a look that will draw attention while you're dancing to the beats of world-class DJs. The night's producers are always out on the floor, making sure everyone is having a good time — whether they be butch queen, twink, daddy, diva, Becky with the good hair, Basic Betty, club kid or just John Q. Public looking for the best place in town to party.

Hyperspace Facebook

It's easy to kill the soul of the nostalgic things we love by upgrading. Take, for example, the arcade experience. For children of the '70s, '80s and '90s, it isn't purely what we knew back then anymore; now arcades offer booze, food and other distractions to entice adults, which just ends up alienating the die-hard fans (and making things sticky). Behold Hyperspace, which started as one person's warehouse-sized collection of nearly 200 games and has become a massive arcade with a simple twist: Instead of buying games with quarters, players have access to unlimited games with a $12 day pass. Load up on soda or energy drinks and finally reach the score of your dreams on Galaga.

Readers' Choice: The 1Up Colfax

Lair of Abraxas Facebook

Geeks need to gather in the safe surroundings of other geeks, doing the things geeks do: playing arcane fantasy-card games, drinking tea and French-press coffee, shopping for cosplay geek-wear and figures, sucking on e-hookahs — the usual stuff. Lair of Abraxas is a clubby den for square pegs looking for like-minded companions who unironically love to play games. The place bills itself as a never-ending gaming convention, which translates to gaming heaven. Entry to the late-night gaming palace is by a flat-fee admission price, which buys you all of the above. That's a lot to love.

Back in the days before Fakebook and power-texting, we used to sit around tables together, playing games. Remember that? The hours of Monopoly, Risk and gin rummy, spent eye to eye over silly conversations, snacks and beverages? Now Denver has a place that brings all that back. Board Game Republic glamours up the old-fashioned family game night for adults with a reasonably priced menu, brews and cocktails and a 700-game library to choose from. The place is suitable for parties of all sizes, at a $5-per-person table charge. You have friends, right? Go do something with them, IRL.

Danielle Lirette

Colorado is awash in basic breweries, dozens of seemingly identical establishments that treat entertainment and aesthetics as afterthoughts. But Ratio Beerworks, a cultural hub in RiNo, defies this trend with its bold, constantly improving decor and fruitful partnerships with local creatives. Activities abound every week, from crafting and yoga classes to silent discos and trivia nights, which means that Ratio's loyal patrons nearly always have something to do besides drink. It's the live performances, however, that truly set Ratio apart. The Ratio Sessions concert series draws bands like the Menzingers and Beach Slang for intimate concerts where fans can meet and greet (and drink) with musicians in the colorful taproom. Meanwhile, Ratio Comedy puts on inventive showcases like the Battle Royale, Doom Room and the Dirty Laundry Dating Show nearly every Wednesday, keeping the laughs flowing as freely as the beer.

Courtesy Comedy Works Downtown

Alternative venues and comedian-produced showcases abound in Denver, but the gold standard for standup will always be Comedy Works Downtown. The subterranean club provides the ideal acoustics for basking in the warmth of a crowd's laughter, making it the perfect setting to record standup albums like The Funches of Us and Skanks for the Memories. While rooted in more than 35 years of tradition, Comedy Works doesn't shy away from such innovations as locking cell phones in Yondr bags, which not only removes distractions from the showroom, but also prevents nascent material from leaking out into the public. While remaining a top draw for headliners from around the world, Comedy Works has also nurtured the careers of local comedians dating all the way back to Roseanne Barr, and it continues to create platforms where its roster of comics can try out new ideas, including shows like Mentalpause and Infauxmation.

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