Best Restrooms at a Venue 2018 | Ophelia's Electric Soapbox | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

The rule of thumb for venue restrooms is this: The more nondescript and bare they are, the better. Too much decor and we'll linger, missing precious concert time, and too cluttered or dirty and we'll spend more time avoiding the puke on the floor than taking care of business. Ophelia's bathrooms somehow hit the sweet spot of having just enough character to stand out and being comfortable enough to serve as a retreat from all the chaos outside the door. They're clean and private, everything works, there are ample ledges in the men's rooms to hold beers, and the stall doors are made of rulers. Think you'll measure up?

Teal Nipp

Denver's oldest jazz and blues club offers an impressive roster of talent throughout the week, and it never charges a cover. The dimly lit bar at the corner of 20th and Market streets might not look like an integral part of Denver's nightlife from the outside, but El Chapultepec's free music and dancing make for one of the best nights out in the city. Catch weekly regulars such as the Diana Castro Band and the Freddy Rodriguez Quartet, or spend a weekend with Eef & the Blues Express. Either way, you won't leave disappointed.

Chautauqua Auditorium is heated and cooled by nature, and you won't get rained on. The venue, which was opened in 1898 and can seat 1,300 people, has long been an ideal spot for summer concerts, and over the past few years, the folks at Z2 Entertainment, which operates the Boulder and Fox theaters, have done a noble job booking talent for its summer concert series. Last year's shows included a variety of national acts, like Blind Pilot, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Lucinda Williams, Drive-By Truckers and Punch Brothers.

Every summer, talented musicians from around the country and world gather in Boulder for a classical jam session, as it were. For six busy weeks, they become the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, delivering a sizzling variety of offerings, from full orchestral evenings to chamber groups, experimental evenings and family-friendly concerts. Housed in the lovingly preserved all-wood Chautauqua Auditorium, the festival has been a welcome tradition for more than forty years. The friendly, informal atmosphere is infectious, and you can visit Chautauqua Park on a warm summer day and listen to the bands rehearse.

No regional opera company has worked harder than Opera Colorado to keep the art form vital. Since its birth 35 years ago, it has brought in vocal greats such as Placido Domingo, James McCracken and Denyce Graves. More important, Ari Pelto, Greg Carpenter and company judiciously balance the more crowd-pleasing performers, such as La Bohème and Aida, with exciting new work such as the innovative restaging of Nixon in China in 2008 and the world-premiere production of Lori Laitman's The Scarlet Letter in 2016. And Opera Colorado offers an array of enviable education and outreach programs, to boot.

Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Denver's old Auditorium Theater was a nightmare — atrocious acoustics, bad sight lines, and all the ambience of a dilapidated grange hall. The "Ellie" was literally carved out of the older, cavernous space, and since opening in 2005, it's been a wonder. The house's flowing, warm design can hold more than 2,000 people, and the back of each seat has a screen that translates shows for opera-goers. The acoustics are impeccable, and the versatile Ellie hosts a variety of arts events year-round. More than a decade in, it has become the go-to venue for top-of-the-line cultural events in Denver.

The Boulder Phil turned sixty this year, and it's more popular and innovative than ever, reaching deep into the community to share great music. Its programming is a bracing mix of familiar works and adventerous new compositions, all played with precision and energy. Under the baton of its music director and conductor for eleven years, Michael Butterman, the Philharmonic has chalked up collaborations with 45 local organizations that dabble in arts, science, nature, social services and more. And its educational and outreach programs are growing a new generation of music lovers.

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