Music News

Joe Palooka's

"You're not wearing your hat tonight," the bartender says to the guy who just walked in with a gal and sat next to me. "I don't think I've seen you in here without your hat on."

And this guy doesn't even need a hat — he has a full head of hair. Me, I wear hats to cover a massive bald spot that started during my senior year of high school. I rarely leave my house without a hat. The way I see it, investing in a few baseball caps is hell of a lot cheaper than paying for a toupee, Propecia or a hair transplant. At a Rockies game a few years ago, I sat about six rows behind a guy with a fresh set of hair plugs. I don't know if they'd botched his job or he'd gone in for the manager's special, but either way, from twenty feet away, I shouldn't have been able to see those black dots where they'd cut into his scalp and stuffed in hair from who knows where.

Now I'm sitting at Joe Palooka's (3923 East 120th Avenue), which is somehow still in Denver even though it feels like Northglenn or Thornton, and I'm contemplating my lack of hair, thinking about some nut who had this theory that bald guys have bigger brains and that's what pushes the hair out.

Joe Palooka's has karaoke on Thursday nights and DJs on the weekends, but tonight's entertainment is just the jukebox playing the Eagles, John Mellencamp and Journey. There are pool tables, too, and four TVs on the wall above the bar showing the Rockies game, horse racing, the Olympics and cage-fighting — which, for a tough-guy sport, is surprisingly homoerotic. One minute the guys are punching each other, and the next minute one of them is on top of the other and the guy on the bottom has his legs around the guy on top.

I look around and see a hottie ordering a round of shots. She points to the hatless guy next to me and tells the bartender to send him a shot. The bartender brings it over and says the gal is sorry for stepping on the guy's foot. A minute later, the guy asks if I like shots. I tell him I do, and he slides over the highball filled with Tuaca and Red Bull, with a shot of something I didn't see the bartender pour dropped in. The guy says he can't handle shots anymore, but he didn't want to offend the gal who sent him the peace offering. I down the drink, and a minute later I'm sweating and burping up what tastes like tropical-fruit-flavored Tums. I can't recall ever taking a shot that made me sweat, and I'm glad I have my hat on, because a bald dude with sweat percolating all over his head isn't the most attractive thing.

Club scout: Thursdays were once the province of Night of the Living Shred at Bender's Tavern (314 East 13th Avenue), but now DJ Klaw has taken over, and he's throwing a launch party for Mommy's Little Monster nights on Thursday, August 21. Ladies drink free from 10 p.m. to midnight, with giveaways from Suicide Girls and Frank 151; SUPER ScreenPrint will also be printing custom old-school heat transfers on T-shirts. The following Thursday, Klaw will bring in Los Angeles-based hip-hop and electro DJ Troublemaker.

On Saturday, August 23, Beta (1909 Blake Street) and Twenty40 will host Tantra, featuring latex body paint, dancers, fashion, art and music specifically picked to maximize the senses. Famed house DJ Donald Glaude will be joined by Twenty40 residents Shea Delany, Devious D and SpankE, along with Orange Peel Moses and the Sex Kittens. Also on August 23, Tracks (3500 Walnut Street) hosts Unity Dance '08 with DJs Manny Lehman, Lydia Prim and Trina J. And on Wednesday, August 27, Moby will do a DJ set at the Church (1160 Lincoln Street).

Finally, Sugar House Lounge (1395 West Alameda Avenue), which kicked off its Entourage Fridays in July, will run the nights through mid-September. Basically, anyone who can bring in a group of 25 or more is eligible to win a trip for two to Jamaica, Cabo, Cancún, or Vegas.

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon