This year, the club scene wasn't quite as busy as it was in 2011, when a large number of spots entered the scene -- but 2012 still welcomed a strong number of clubs and venues with live music and entertainment. Here's a rundown of some of the more promising places that opened in the past year. Tell us your favorites in the comments section.
The 2UP: A year after opening the 1UP, the hot arcade/bar in LoDo, owner Jourdan Adler took over the former home of Pete's Monkey Bar last June and put his second bar, the 2UP, in that spot. While the 2UP might be smaller than its downtown sister, it features more than 35 vintage arcade games, three lanes of Skee-ball and nine pinball games.
Grizzly Rock: Grizzly Rose owner Scott Durland took over the former After the Gold Rush space in 2011 and completely redid the outside of the building, the stage and all electrical and lighting systems before reopening it as the Grizzly Rock in July 2012. But Durland says he kept the ceiling lights from the Gold Rush days, and the entrance has been revamped to look like a mine shaft in homage to its former life. While the 1,200-capacity Grizzly Rock has brought in '80s hard-rock bands like Warrant and Skid Row, the venue also caters to other genres and hosts a fair number of cover bands.
Hoot & Howl: Hoot and Howl, which opened in September in the former Twisted Olive space in Northfield Stapleton, is a restaurant, but it also hosts live, local music, open-mic nights and karaoke on a weekly basis. The venue is designed as a family-friendly hot spot that gets edgier as the day gets older and the beer taps open up. Think Old Chicago minus the sports memorabilia, and add some some rock and roll.
Howl at the Moon: Over the last year, three dueling-piano bars have closed, including Chez Cirque in Greenwood Village, Wild Ivories and, most recently, SingSing, which went dark at the end of last year. Howl at the Moon, which has more than a dozen locations across the country, filled that dueling-piano void when it celebrated its grand opening in March in the former SingSing space, at 1735 19th Street.
Continue reading for more of the year's most notable openings.
Local 46: When popular karaoke spot the Music Bar closed at the end of 2011, the space it occupied was thoroughly cleaned up and refurbished, using as much recycled material as possible. Local 46 opened in April 2012, becoming more of community tavern than the classic dive the place used to be. As a tribute to the older bar's history, though, some of the old jazz-style wallpaper still peeks through the new paint and recycled wood paneling on the walls. The bar brings in live bands on occasion.
Merchants Mile High Saloon: The Border had long been a popular watering hole in the University of Denver neighborhood, though it went through some dry spells -- and then dried up altogether in May 2012. A trio of new owners, two of whom run Merchants Saloon in Oakland, California, recently took over the space and have reopened as Merchants Mile High Saloon. And although the new owners wanted the place to have more of a "dark and sexy" club feel than a casual sports-bar atmosphere, Merchants will show games when they're on.
NORAD NORAD, which moved into the former 2200 space, is the prime spot for mature dance music. What does that mean, exactly? It means that it's for people who know and love electronic music and haven't become jaded by the mainstream takeover. The biggest names in the underground dance scene come here, and the resulting parties run late into the night. The sound system is comparable to those at Denver's biggest clubs, and the location is such that once you get to NORAD, you won't want to go anywhere else.
Satori Night Club: In June 2012, the Rockstar Lounge closed after a year-and-a-half run, reopening in September as Satori, with a new paint job, newly reupholstered furniture, a new DJ booth and a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system. In keeping with its name -- "satori" is a Buddhist term meaning "enlightenment" -- the space is lovely and comfortable, yet not too glamorous. Once home to an array of venues including Zen Ultra Lounge and DC-10, the club brings in a steady stream of well-known DJs.
Sidewinder Tavern: For decades, the Sidewinder was a storied Globeville dive, but in December 2012, a group of local musicians, including Fez Garcia (with some help from his folks) took over the spot and gave it a bit more hipster cred. Garcia says the group is trying to recapture the vibe of the now-defunct Gabor's in Capitol Hill: laid-back, not pretentious, and just really cozy. As expected, the jukebox is filled with lots of local bands, as well as mix CDs brought in by patrons. A music venue in the adjoined hall and a kitchen will open in the near future.
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