Arrived in Denver on Friday night of Labor Day weekend and met up with an old friend from high school. Hadn’t seen him in at least 20 years. We had happy hour sushi and sake and caught up briefly on the last two decades. It was a blast! A friend of his stopped by to have a drink and mention that this great band, Vinyl, would be playing at Cervantes that night and they were going to get tickets and wanted to know if we were in. Cervantes was apparently a club that used to be THE place to play on your way from anywhere east to Los Angeles. So folks like Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn played there.
We first headed to some “cowboy bar” where I had the pleasure of meeting Chuck, a passerby just lookin’ for a drink on this end of the summer evening. The guys had just bought shots of whiskey, which I don’t do, so I offered mine to Charles and he accepted. He told me a little about himself. He used to be a horse wrangler and had been kicked a few too many times in the arse and had even had a few run-ins with larger game. I told him about my near-death experience and he sympathized. He had just lost his job which was why he was asking for the kindness of strangers so I gave him a fiver and apologized but we were heading out to see a band in Five Points now. We hugged and we were both on our way.
When we arrived at Cervantes, the band hadn’t yet started so my friend and I went to this speakeasy-type place that mostly (primarily) catered to African American folks. He had always wanted to check it out since it was “known” by many. We went up the stairwell and on the door was a sign that read something like, “Don’t bother coming in unless you want a drink.” In other words, this isn’t a place to people watch or simply see it for yourself. We sat down at the bar and it was just a regular little hole in the wall but I guess since there seems to be quite the color divide here, it was novel for a Denver local. For me, it’s not so far fetched for me to be a minority (white) in an all-Black bar. But whatevs.
When we went back to Cervantes, things were getting started and the band was incredible. From what my friend Sarah tells me, it sounded like a jam band. She defined that as being a band that doesn’t necessarily play a song list but more so just plays. And yes, that was this. Everyone in the room was tripping or stoned or drunk off their ass but they were the friendliest group of people I’ve ever danced in a room with. It was a sight to see, the women especially. They were dancing in their own little world. There was one woman in light blue jeans, the ones we used to covet in the late 80s, and she was getting’ down to this psychedelic rock/jazz music as if she was pole dancing to gangsta hip hop. It was hilarious! And then there was Amanda who was lovin’ life and would dance with anyone who needed a partner. She was very sweet. THEN, there was this other woman, maybe in her early 40s, high as a kite, doing the whole Woodstock waltz all over the dance floor. She didn’t really talk to many folks but didn’t need to. She was havin’ her own party in her head. I make fun but really I enjoyed watching these folks enjoy themselves. It was all very communal and fun. And although I was sober, I prefer to be in these situations. Otherwise, I may not have recalled all of this.
The unique thing that I had never seen before in a music venue was artists painting on platforms while dancing and groovin’ out to the tunes. Most of it was the black light, psychedelic-type paintings of whatever crazy thoughts were going through their heads at the moment. There was straight up painting, some airbrushing and I think I even saw some finger painting (unless that was just corrective).
After Cervantes, we went to a friend’s house to hang a bit but had to go to another friend’s house to feed her pug. That’s where we stayed and it was so comfy there. I was the designated driver of the evening (again) and it was funny. Apparently, I drove the length of downtown Denver because the paranoid folks were worried I’d forget a turn, not use my directionals or go too fast in a 30 mph section. Hilarious! At one point in the ride, we passed this guy in his car having what looked like a hissy fit. I was told to look away. LOL. But then right at the same moment, there was a man on the side of the road digging up his lawn at 3:30 in the morning as if he were going to dump a body in the hole he’d made. To this, the lovely lady in the car with me said, “And this is the landscaping district.” Best line of the night.
In the morning, driving back to our cars, I got to see a wide variety of Denver architecture. Loved Bonnie Brae Ice Cream shop on University Blvd. and fell in love with the little bungalows in the Cherry Creek neighborhood. So adorable. I want one. NOTE to friends: Denver bungalow for EO for Christmas. Thanks.