Today's featured event: West African culture gets a real workout at the BaoBao Festival

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Nothing gets your blood pumping faster than a little African dancing and drumming. Doesn't matter if you're on the stage or in front of it. By the time the drums start talking and the dancers start whooping and leaping, you'll be ready to credit the Africans for inspiring the bulk of American culture, roots or otherwise: blues, rock and roll, jazz, swing dancing, break dancing, rap, and heck, why not bluegrass? Some of the area's best West African dancers and drummers (and special guests from Ghana) keep the fire hot and the momentum going each year during the annual BaoBao Festival, a Boulder-based cultural extravaganza with performance forays into other communities, which celebrates its sixth anniversary over the next few days.

The main events this year include a free, informal fashion show, which combines both traditional costumes from several African nations and modern African-inspired garments on the runway, and the relentless beat expected by BaoBao Fest-goers. Experience it all tonight at 7 p.m. at the Boulder Broker Inn Restaurant, 555 30th Street -- or check out subsequent extravaganzas in Denver and Boulder.

There's West African dancing, drumming, music and storytelling, featuring the members of the Ghana National Dance Ensemble, Boulder Pan African Ensemble and Streetside Hip Hop Dance Troupe at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Denver School of the Arts, 7111 Montview Boulevard. Tickets, set at $10 to $15 (or free for children under age ten), are available at the door. And on Friday evening, two live bands, including Afro-salsa fusion artist Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca, will perform at a Carnival Africa, a benefit for nonprofits working in Africa co-hosted by BaoBao Fest and Sante Natural. The all-ages party, complete with African eats, dancing, film screenings, workshops and more, rages from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the St. Julien Hotel, 900 Walnut Street, Boulder. Go to the Sante Natural website to reserve tickets; they're $10 to $25. The fest finally wraps up with a second performance at 7 p.m. on March 7 at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street, Boulder. Tickets range from $15 to $19, with children under age ten getting in free free. Visit the Boulder Theater website or call 303-786-7030 to get more information.

It'll make you feel like dancin' -- extreme dancin', that is, assuming you're not too exhausted. For complete details, surf to the BaoBao Fest site.

For more ways to rock the night and kill the day, go to westword.com/calendar.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.