Dance, Dance, Dance: Move to the Music at Denver's Hottest Clubs
By Christine Loomis
Denver Local Expert
Dance is a universal language with infinite variations, its rhythms and beats giving us license to sway, swing, twirl, dip and otherwise move across a floor to the sounds spun by DJs or played by musicians of every genre. But it's not just about the music. It's also about the building, the decor, the lights, the acoustics and the people. It's about state-of-the-art sound systems, such as those at Beta Nightclub and The Church. And when it's time to take a break from the moves, it's nice to have a space where dancers can relax and chat, spaces such as the rooftop at Club Vinyl and the expansive patio at Chloe Discotheque. There's definitely an advantage to being a dancing woman in Denver, because almost every club has a ladies night when entry is free and drinks are offered for as little as $1. And if you don't already know how to dance swing or salsa or groove to the blues, you're in luck. Several of the top dance venues in town, including the Grizzly Rose and La Rumba, offer free or nearly free lessons, which are followed by the chance to try out your stellar moves with old or new friends.
Denver may be a long way from Argentina, but the Mercury Café is the place in the city to learn the tango or to dance the tango if you already know how. It's also the place to learn swing or how to dance to the blues. In fact, Mercury Café has dancing of one kind or another three to four nights a week. The lesson schedule is typically blues dancing on Tuesdays, swing on Thursdays and Sundays and tango most Fridays. The lessons are always followed by music and dancing just for the love of it. Most often there's a DJ, but on the first Tuesday of the month a live blues band takes the stage, and there's a live swing band every Sunday. About once a month, tango lovers gather at the Mercury to practice their sultry moves and precise footwork as musicians play. (303-294-9281)
Aimed at the 30-something professional crowd, Proof is energetic with a penchant for creating interactive, audience-participation events for its guests. Case in point: the ever-popular girls' push-up contest. Proof underwent a remodel last year and one result is a new nightly lightshow utilizing large pro-scale LEDs, which allows for changes to the color and pitch of the walls and entryways in real time or in pre-set patterns. Proof has three different theme nights. Thursday is Latin Groove Night while Friday has two segments: Retro '80s Happy Hour featuring hits from the 1970s, '80s and early '90s from 6-8 p.m., followed by Friday Night Sugar with the best of R&B and Top 40 hits until 1:30 a.m. Saturday's Hot Dance Party is a Top 40, high-energy blast. On Friday's there's also a dinner buffet available. (303.694.4898)
Bar Standard is part of the SoCo Nightlife District (as in south of Colfax), a family of clubs that includes The Church and Club Vinyl, among others. Although Bar Standard was originally set up as a speakeasy, it's now the group's designated dance club with an Art Deco vibe, dark-wood décor, amber chandeliers and plush booth seating reflective of its speakeasy origins. Bar Standard also features two urban patios. While the club's hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m.-2 a.m., the rooftop patio is a nice warm-weather retreat for Denverites on summer Sundays, when it's open from 6 p.m.-midnight. Bar Standard is for ages 21 and over only. (313-832-8628, ext 15)
Tracks dates back to 1980 when it opened as an after-hours bar. Today, its multiple dance floors and rocking parties keep it a staple on the Denver dance scene, as does its "whoever-you-are-you-are-welcome-here" vibe. Music on tap is likely to be Top 40, hip-hop and favorites from the '80s and '90s; occasionally there are live performances, too. Because dancing is hungry business, Tracks has a grill with a menu that includes such goodies as mac-n-cheese bites and buffalo wings. As for a dress code, the folks at Tracks have just one rule. "We pride ourselves on being a place that anyone and everyone can come to. We are a place where everyone can really express their individuality with whatever they may feel comfortable dressed as. As long as you're not nude, come one come all!" (303-863-7326)
Since 1989, the Grizzly Rose has served up country western fun--not that you have to be die-hard country to have a great night here. Unlike some clubs, The Grizz doesn't have a long list of things you can't wear (though you can't wear shirts that say "security" or "staff"), there aren't endless lines to get in and you can bring the whole family some nights, kids and all. Better yet, the Grizzly Rose features live music six nights a week, from regional acts to nationally known performers, and a 2,500-square-foot dance floor. Most evenings start with free or nearly free dance lessons, and there's a full kitchen cooking up barbeque. Did we mention the dueling mechanical bulls? Here's a tip: some aficionados say it's more important to hang on with your legs than with your hands. (303-295-2353, 303-295-1330)
Latin dance. That's what La Rumba is about. The club appeals to a diverse crowd spanning multiple generations, cultures and ethnicities, and plays diverse styles of Latin music, from salsa, bachata and cumbria to merengue and cha cha. Channeling South Beach and Havana, La Rumba transports dancers to a sultry Latin hot spot, even if Denver is just outside the doors. And just as they would in South Beach or Havana, guests at La Rumba dress to impress. That means no sports apparel, ball caps, tank tops, shorts, or flip-flops. On Saturday nights, La Rumba showcases some of Denver's top salsa orchestras, while Friday night is ladies night. In addition to free lessons, guests can signup for paid dance workshops, which take place before the doors open. La Rumba is open Thursday to Saturday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. and is for ages 21 and older only. (303-572-8006)
Chloe brings in highly respected DJs who spin Top 40 hits and EDM, while patrons move between three venues within the club, each with its own ambience. Sleek Mezze Lounge features an onyx under-lit bar and oversized couches and ottomans in leather and snakeskin. Just outside, the garden is a 2,000-square-foot patio space with its own bar, fire pits and cabana seating. The heart of it all is the discotheque, where guests can dance the night away and, perhaps, take breaks at one of the 20 coveted tables where servers oversee VIP bottle service for those with deep pockets; bottles start at $250 and table minimums range from one bottle to four. No food is available except during special events. Cocktail attire is expected and no one is admitted with athletic clothing, hats or footwear. (720.383.8447)
A vertical dance extravaganza, Club Vinyl features four levels, four dance floors and four types of music. As if all that weren't enough, the rooftop indoor/outdoor patio offers a year-round place to relax with heaters, fire pits, hookahs and sweeping city and mountain views. The spectacular Function-One sound system is just part of the experience, which also includes LED video design, multiple screens and large, open dance spaces. The club is open Thursday to Saturday from 9 p.m.-2 a.m., with summer seasonal partying up on the roof Sundays from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Ladies night--free entry and $1 drink specials--is Thursdays. Depending on the night and floor, music ranges from salsa, meringue, bachata, reggaeton, Latin and hip-hop to 1980s and '90s faves and Top 40 tunes. (303-860-8469)
Unique among Denver nightclubs, The Church is just what it sounds like: A dance club housed in a former place of worship. The church itself was built in 1865 and its Gothic architecture may have particular appeal for the Goth subculture of the city, though it's a cool space no matter what kind of music moves you. The Old World ambiance is supercharged by a state-of-the-art sound system and cutting-edge DJs with regional and national followings. Open Thursday to Sunday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m., The Church is for ages 18 and older. On Fridays and Saturdays a late-night sushi bar provides sustenance. On Global Fridays, the feast is a more visual experience, thanks to the GoGo Nightlife Dancers and $1 drinks for women 21 and older. Saturday is typically Latin night, and on Sundays DJs spin Goth, alternative and industrial. (303-832-3528, 303-832-2383)
Guests at Beta move to a wide spectrum of music played on the main floor and in the Beatport Lounge--house, techno, dubstep, trance, hip-hop, trap and everything in between. Beta is by and for DJs though there are live acts as well, which might include vocalists, instruments, turntablism or controllerism. The owners firmly believe that if you haven't been to Beta you have not experienced music as it's meant to be heard. "With our system processors constantly adjusted, acoustic treatment fully dialed and every aspect down to the wiring and placement fine-tuned, you can expect the best sound in Denver with the best artists." While there's no food served at the club, there are street vendors and food trucks all night long. (303.383.1909)
About Christine Loomis
Christine has written about every aspect of travel, from romance and adventure to family and wellness. She is also lucky to have had three major home states through the years: New York, Colorado and California. Today she divides time between the Denver and San Francisco areas. Christine loves shoe shopping and fishing; walking anywhere; horseback riding (she was on the equestrian team at the University of Oregon); and discovering menus that include small-batch whiskeys, craft beer and lesser-known wines. She would go anywhere in an RV and believes summer is best when it includes a rafting trip.
Read more about Christine Loomis here.