Best Open-Mic Night 2018 | Songwriter's Open Mic | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Environment can be key when sharing songs with strangers for the first time, and Syntax Physic Opera provides an ideal setting for singer-songwriters trying out new material or performers testing older material on a new audience. Veteran songwriter Anthony Ruptak hosts these Tuesday night sessions at the warm and inviting Syntax, where musicians get three songs to show what they've got. A couple of times a month, established or emerging artists stop by to talk about their work and songwriting in general.

Readers' Choice: Lion's Lair

While all stripes of LGBTQ people have club nights devoted to them — from leather-and-lace lovers to queens, bears and line-steppers — queer punks have been mostly SOL in the Mile High. That's what makes God Save the Queens: A Queer Punk Dance Party such a watershed event. Not only are the DJs spinning the best, darkest and edgiest industrial, punk, goth and alternative music, but the crowd is bending gender and breaking down sexual barriers — and having a helluva good time doing it.

Denver has no shortage of stunning club nights, but how many let you shake your booty to killer music while doing something that might just make the world a better place? 45s Against 45: An Anti-Trump Dance Party gives Denver's denizens the chance to do both. The night is the brainchild of DJ Jason Heller of Mile High Funk Club and Mile High Soul Club, who's been throwing these parties at various venues over the past year and has no plans to stop spinning until 45 is out of the White House. The quick-to-sell-out shindigs benefit groups like Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and, most recently, March for Our Lives. Armed with 45 rpm records and a whole lot of spunk, Heller and his guest DJs throw one of the best parties in town.

Readers' Choice: The Black Box

Aaron Thackeray

Over the past decade, San Francisco's Temple Nightclub has built up a strong following, and last year, CEO and founder Paul Hemming opened an outpost in Denver, in the former City Hall location. The super-futuristic three-story venue, which Hemming calls "a love child of Burning Man and Las Vegas," has presented heavy-hitting EDM talent like Fedde Le Grand and Benny Benassi, who play jams pumped through a booming Funktion-One sound system. The club's LED-covered walls and laser light shows give the space a sci-fi-flavored ambience.

Readers' Choice: The Black Box

Courtesy Oskar Blues Black Buzzard Facebook page

The folks behind Oskar Blues have a two-decades-long history of hosting live music at their various spots around the state, so it's not surprising that they did a superb job renovating the downtown basement space that was once home to the original Brendan's Pub and, more recently, Pat's Philly Steaks & Subs. Since opening late last year, they've filled the stage at Black Buzzard with local acts at least three nights a week. The Delta Sonics host a weekly blues jam, and the venue hosts comedy shows and comedy open-mic nights, as well.

Readers' Choice: Levitt Pavilion Denver

Evan Semón

Although Denver lost its oldest blues club when Ziggies closed last year, Lincoln's Roadhouse has long been home to a steady stream of primarily local blues talent — most notably, the Delta Sonics, Maynard Mills and David Booker — as well as the occasional national touring act. Any time is a good time at Lincoln's, which serves up some mean Southern fare alongside the tunes, including po' boys, grilled Louisiana hot sausage and Cajun popcorn — but things can get downright rowdy on the weekends.

Readers' Choice: Dazzle

Dazzle already had a great thing going for nearly two decades at its former location at 930 Lincoln Street, but since moving downtown to much bigger digs in the old Baur's building, the jazz venue has grown into even more of a world-class establishment. With more than twice the capacity and a much bigger stage and sound system than those at the former space, the new Dazzle offers a better listening experience all around. The venue continues to book the finest local jazz talent as well as internationally known luminaries; in March alone, the club brought in the Bad Plus, Dr. Lonnie Smith, James Blood Ulmer, Jane Monheit and Chris Speed.

Readers' Choice: Nocturne

Courtesy of La Rumba

While La Rumba is the best place in town to get down to a variety of Latin music, the venue is also a great place to learn how to dance through its salsa and bachata classes and workshops, which are offered most nights of the week. Whatever level dancer you are, La Rumba also puts on popular Latin nights, especially Thursdays through Saturdays, when the club heats up and the dance floor is packed with people dancing to some of the best salsa and bachata DJs in town.

Readers' Choice: La Rumba

Eric Gruneisen

For nearly three decades, the Grizzly Rose has been the city's main outpost for country music, and the Country Music Association named it one of the best clubs in the U.S. The 40,000-square-foot venue, which hosts live music six nights a week, has seen rising stars on their way up — like Taylor Swift, who was still a teenager when she played there — as well as such seasoned veterans as Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. With its massive dance floor, the Grizzly Rose is also an ideal place to learn how to line-dance or two-step during monthly classes.

Swallow Hill Music

The fact that Swallow Hill has not only survived, but thrived over nearly forty years says a lot about the nonprofit's dedication to folk, roots and acoustic music of all kinds. Since its beginnings in 1979 as an outgrowth of the Denver Folklore Center, Swallow Hill has hosted local, national and international artists on its stages and taught countless students through its music school and, more recently, its outreach programs. Here's to another forty.

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