The 21 Best Events in Denver, May 16 Through May 22

The Denver Cruiser Ride rolls back into town.

This week you can welcome back an old favorite — the Denver Cruiser Ride, which starts a new, improved season on May 17 — as well as celebrate a new holiday: Colorado Public Lands Day, honoring this state’s very great outdoors. In between you can dance and drink, laugh and love. Here are the 21 best events in and around Denver this week:

Strange Craft taps into another year.

Tuesday, May 16

Strange Craft Beer, at 1330 Zuni Street, is celebrating its seventh anniversary as one of the leaders of the craft-beer movement in Denver. Among the festivities is a screening of the feature-length documentary Blood, Sweat and Beer, which follows the journeys of two startup breweries and examines the beer industry nationwide. Get your tickets at eventbrite.com for $5, or pay $7 at the door on Tuesday, May 16. There will be two seatings, at 6 and 8 p.m. Sip local suds while learning about the ups and downs of small-business ownership in a fast-growing industry. Cheers to more beers!

If you’ve never visited the Temple — the Curtis Park enclave of artist studios, galleries, a zine library, a bakery and shared work spaces in the newly restored historic Temple Emanuel building at 2400 Curtis Street — here’s one more reason to get to know it better: PlatteForum, the arts haven’s anchor organization, is teaming up with other Temple artists to present The Temple Evening Lecture series, a showcase of everything the space has to offer. At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, Temple denizens Eden Myles, owner/operator of the building’s Five Points Pizza shop, and author/artist Will Meier will engage in a chess match while discussing art and life in an improvised presentation, with audience participation encouraged. Admission is free, but prepare to engage; tor more information, go to platteforum.org.

Between testosterone-fueled mosh pits and the punk genre’s typical all-male bands, women have all too often been pushed to the back of the room in the punk scene — at least, that’s one way the story’s told. Baltimore documentary filmmaker Amy Oden counters that narrative in her film From the Back of the Room: 30 Years of Women in Punk!, which looks at the contributions of women to the punk scene from its beginnings (and not just during the female-centric Riot Grrrl movement of the mid-’90s). Oden’s film will screen at 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 16, at Seventh Circle Music Collective, 2935 West Seventh Avenue. Donations will be accepted at the door. For more information, go to 7thcirclemusiccollective.org. A portion of proceeds from the event will go to the Titwrench Music Festival.

There’ll be a whole lotta shakin’ going on Tuesday, May 16, when the United States Bartenders’ Guild “Make it Exotic” Cocktail Competition comes to the Tavern Wash Park, 1066 South Gaylord Street, from 6 to 8 p.m. Mixologists from across the country have been submitting cocktail recipes using Exotico tequilas; at this semi-final event, each of the ten contestants will have seven minutes to make their cocktails and wow the four judges. The judges will pick six bartenders to move on to the final round; they’ll get an all-expenses paid trip to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, site of the final contest. The semi-finals are free to watch, and audience members even get to vote on a crowd-favorite cocktail that will be named at the event. Find out more at facebook.com/exoticotequila.

The Denver Cruiser Ride is growing up this year.

Wednesday, May 17

A Denver favorite is growing up: The Denver Cruiser Ride began as an opportunity for cyclists to gather in Denver and ride every Wednesday during the summer. What was a purely social gathering has morphed in the hands of founder Brad Evans into a series of happy hours called City Spark that aim to unite civic leaders and city residents at gatherings where they can discuss important topics. But if the Cruiser is your thing, don’t worry: Your fun-loving, costume-clad self can still gear up for five rides this summer, the first of which is on Wednesday, May 17. Just as in years past, head to the Ginn Mill, 2041 Larimer Street, for the ride, which begins at 8:15 and continues until 11 p.m. For more information, visit denvercruiserride.com. To find out about the next City Spark meetup, visit facebook.com/pg/denverbikenight/events.

There are two types of people in this world: those who tinker, and those who don’t. If you’d rather take apart and rebuild a microwave than simply use it, head to Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 17. As part of its Adult Maker Night series, in which art and engineering converge over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, Space will host Motor Racers, where you can learn how to design a mini propeller-powered car while sipping on a cocktail or two. Find tickets, $20, and more information at spacegallery.org.

Denver’s loss is Aurora’s gain. As artists are being priced out of the core city, many are moving east, giving Aurora a creative infusion. But then, that town already has a solid arts base, one that provides strong support for Downtown Aurora Visual Arts, which helps youth learn and succeed through art. Still, a little help is always appreciated, and you can do your bit by attending the annual DAVA fundraiser, Innovation & Imagination: Building Creativity and Confidence in Our Youth. The fun runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17, at the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street, Aurora; tickets are $75 or $100 VIP. To purchase yours, go to davafundraiser.ezregister.com.

Thursday, May 18

Warm Cookies of the Revolution, Denver’s civic health club, has issued a call to arms for this month’s stitch ’n’ bitch session, titled What Is Militarism? Bring your hand-occupying crafts (if you don’t have any, materials will be supplied) as well as your opinions (we know you have those) to the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue. From 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, you can chat with combat veterans from WWII and the Iraq War as well as veterans of anti-war movements, and chew over the issues of the day over cookies and milk. A donation of $5 is requested; for more information, go to warmcookiesoftherevolution.org.

The mainstream world might label My First Show Show II an open mic for new — or maybe really obscure — bands looking for a break. That’s not entirely incorrect, given that the event invites musicians barely beyond the “just jamming” stage to get up and play their hearts out. But in Denver’s zine world, there’s so much more that’s right about My First Show Show II, a radically fun dance party that will raise funds for this year’s Denver Zine Fest, now only a month away. Bands that want to perform will be added to the lineup in the order they e-mail melissa.rae.black@gmail.com. For the rest of us, doors open at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18, at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, and you can rock all night for a donation of $5 to $10. Get more info at denverzinelibrary.org.

Keep reading for more events this week.

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Get outside on Saturday.

Friday, May 19

Animator Michael Scott looked around one day and asked why a city of Denver’s stature didn’t have a truly international animation festival to call its own. When no one answered, he decided to create one himself — with certain limitations, on his own dime. And because Scott “wanted to stress that the whole thing was done on the budget of a ham sandwich,” he named it the Denver Nickel + Dime Animation Extravaganza. He then began contacting animators all over the world, and 32 of them ended up contributing short films to the low-budget fest. The catch? A mere fifteen cents couldn’t cover travel expenses, so Scott conducted interviews via Skype, editing them down into two- to three-minute interviews led by his cartoon-character alter ego Bearver C. Rogers. Fifteen of those interviews, including one with indie animator Bill Plympton, will be interspersed between films at the fest, which runs from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday, May 19, at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street. The $10 admission will benefit Safehouse Denver; reserve tickets in advance at eventbrite.com. Learn more about the fest on the Facebook event page.

The former People’s Rent-to-Own at 9995 East Colfax Avenue is now “The People’s Building,” a multi-arts venue with space and infrastructure set aside for new ventures, including eateries, in the heart of Aurora’s arts district. While the search is on for tenants, downtown Aurora stalwart Kim Robards and her Kim Robards Dance company will break in the dance floor on Friday, May 19, with a rerun of Robards’s Spinoff, a sparky collaboration with Spinphony, a classical-pop electric string quartet. Before catching the 7:30 p.m. show, you can sneak a peek at the new cultural center. For tickets, $15 to $25, e-mail info@kimrobardsdance.org; call 303-825-4847 for more information.

Since starting in Omaha back in 2013, the Crom Comedy Festival has grown steadily and expanded to other cities, including Denver. Alas, all good things must come to an end: Earlier this year, founder Ian Douglas Terry announced that 2017 would be Crom’s final edition. Crom Denver, which runs Friday, May 19, through Sunday, May 21, will be the festival’s last laugh. The schedule will highlight local comics along with headliners Brooks Wheelan, the Puterbaugh Sisters, Solomon Georgio and Allen Strickland Williams, and will include free shows daily at Ratio Beerworks, 2920 Larimer Street, in addition to showcases at Crossroads Theater, 2590 Washington Street, where $15 gets you into a double-header on either Friday or Saturday night. Find the full schedule at cromcomedyfest.com. It was funny while it lasted!

Good things come in small packages. The second annual Reel Social Club Shorts Fest will bring dozens of short films to the Sie FilmCenter on Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20, for two days of bite-sized but ultimately satisfying cinema. With themed packages of films, an opening/closing night bash, a late-night program, digital animations, music videos and a special tribute to the early short works of auteur David Lynch, the Shorts Fest is Denver’s best bet for a watch-apalooza of the world’s greatest flicks for people with short attention spans. Get a festival pass or tickets for individual events at denverfilm.org.

Saturday, May 20

You’re in the right place at the right time. Or at least you can be, with a little planning: The state’s newest celebration, Colorado Public Lands Day, will debut on Saturday, May 20. Signed into law last year by Governor John Hickenlooper, Colorado Public Lands Day comprises nearly 100 events all over the state, from barbecues to trail-maintenance projects — and because this is Colorado, eight local breweries will introduce public lands-inspired beers to mark the occasion. Imagine raising a glass of Spruce Tip IPA, brewed by Broken Compass with the mountains of Breckenridge in mind, or downing a pint of Kannah Creek Brewing Company’s Monument Irish Red, with the hues of the Colorado National Monument. And this holiday is for keeps, set to fall on the third Saturday in May until the end of time. Learn more about Colorado Public Lands Day events and access an interactive map at copubliclandsday.com.

While Denverites bewail a cityscape blighted by unsightly new boxes now fugly-fying our neighborhoods, those who wander a little farther afield will find architectural gems from every era. The Denver metropolitan area is dotted with fine modern homes, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, some of them will open their doors to the public. Stretching from Denver neighborhoods like Highland and University Park to suburbs such as Littleton and Morrison, the Denver Modern Home Tour, presented by the Modern Architecture + Design Society, offers a curated selection of the finest contemporary homes for aesthetes and architects alike to ogle and explore. Visit bit.ly/moderndenver2017 to learn more and buy tickets ($35 in advance and $40 day of).

Jazz returns to Five Points this weekend.

Celebrate the tuneful heritage of Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, once known as the “Harlem of the West,” at the fifteenth annual Five Points Jazz Festival on Saturday, May 20. Bopping along from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the free event will have dozens of musicians jamming the day away while fans listen, nosh, sip and participate in family-friendly activities. While this rapidly gentrifying area is in danger of becoming physically unrecognizable, celebrations like the jazz festival help keep its important history at the forefront of Denver’s consciousness, where it belongs. The day will also include yoga, dance and several film screenings; see the complete lineup at artsandvenuesdenver.com.

Turntables blazing, six Denver DJs — Jason Heller, Boyhollow, Eric Allen, Erin Stereo, Tyler Jacobson and Steve Cervantes — have joined forces to air this message: “Donald Trump is destroying America.” At 45s Against 45: An Anti-Trump Dance Party, the crew will spin vinyl 45s as a protest against the 45th president, playing everything from oldies and ’80s hits to hip-hop and EDM. The show, a fundraiser for the American Civil Liberties Union, starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, at the hi-dive, 7 South Broadway; admission is $5. For more information, go to hi-dive.com.

Here’s a new way to play ring toss: Grab a whiskey bottle and a doughnut, and let ’er fly. Better still, skip the carnival games and just eat the doughnut with a whiskey chaser. That’s exactly what you’ll be able to do at the fifth annual Whiskey Throwdown and Doughnut Showdown — billed as “a pairing of mankind’s two greatest creations” — on Saturday, May 20, at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue. Admission includes unlimited tastings of doughnuts and booze from more than thirty vendors; while Colorado distilleries will be the focus, expect Scotch, bourbon, rye and other brown spirits from around the world, along with a little beer and wine, too. Tickets start at $45 for general admission for one of two sessions — 3:30 to 6 p.m. or 6:30 to 9 p.m. — and go up to $115 for VIP passes, which include both sessions and other cool stuff. Regardless of which ticket you buy, you’ll be registered to win doughnuts for life from a Denver doughnut shop. Go to whiskeydoughnuts.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

On your mark, get set…

Sunday, May 21

On your mark, get set, go! The Colfax Marathon returns on Sunday, May 21, with runners, joggers, run-joggers and walkers wending their way through historic neighborhoods and Mile High Stadium (twice), as well as down Denver’s most infamous street. A 5K on Saturday, May 20, will warm things up, and then the big shebang — which includes the full marathon, a half marathon, an urban ten-miler and a marathon relay — takes off on Sunday, starting at 6 a.m. in City Park, on the east side of Ferril Lake. The distance is an official 26.2 miles, with aid stations at every second mile. Registration fees vary; sign up and learn more at runcolfax.org. And if you’d rather watch, just pull up a chair and cheer on your fellow Mile Highers. At this altitude, they’ll need all the support they can get.

Cameron United Methodist Church, an inclusive congregation that also makes practice space available for musicians, is throwing what’s being dubbed as Denver’s Largest Bluegrass Jam. And whether you pluck a banjo, strum a guitar, belt out twangy songs or just want to sit back and listen, you’re invited to join the members of Denver Retro Grass as they play old-timey favorites — chords and lyrics provided. The jam starts at noon on Sunday, May 21, at the church, 1600 South Pearl Street; admission is a suggested $10 donation. For more information, go to facebook.com/pg/denverretrograss.

Now that blue trees have sprouted all over the Denver Theatre District (at least until the water-soluble hue fades from their branches), color-coded events inspired by Konstantin Dimopoulos’s public-art project The Blue Trees are filling the calendar this weekend. They culminate with Family Fun Day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 21, in Skyline Park, at Arapahoe Street on the 16th Street Mall. While kids paint pint-sized trees in huge buckets, grownups will learn about such adult things as ash borer beetles and why we need to protect our precious trees. Everyone is welcome, and admission is free; get details at facebook.com/events/153473345180481.

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