The 21 Best Events in Denver, May 2-8

Cheers to TheBigWonderful!

This week marks the beginning of warm-weather events Denver knows and loves, like the return of TheBigWonderful, the Denver Derby Party and Cinco de Mayo. So bust out your sunscreen, dust off that derby hat and have a ball.

Tuesday, May 2

Denver-based author Peter Andreas has lived a life packed with enough incident for ten memoirs. His recent autobiography, Rebel Mother: My Childhood Chasing the Revolution, recounts his formative years, spent on the lam with his revolutionary mother, an outspoken feminist and socialist. Enthralling and disillusioning in equal measure, Andreas’s tale describes his various homes, the constant hiding and even brushes with history in a pre-coup Chile. On Tuesday, May 2, join Andreas and a crowd of loyal readers to hear the author read excerpts from his book before a meet-and-greet signing event. The evening kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Colfax, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Admission is free, and copies of Rebel Mother will be available for $26. For more information, call 303-322-7727 or go to tatteredcover.com.

Mozart’s Requiem rivals any of the composer’s other roughly 600 works, and because he died while writing it, no one knows just how much of it was actually composed by him and how much was written by his associate Franz Xaver Süssmayr. But what is certain about the storied and mysterious work is that it ebbs and flows with a romantic pathos few artists have managed to achieve, and captures the drama so many feel about life and its inevitable march toward death. The CU Symphony Orchestra and Choirs will be ending their season with a free performance of the Requiem at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2, at Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. For more information, visit colorado.edu/music.

One of Colorado’s favorite mountain towns has long been called the Kingdom of Breckenridge, so it’s an appropriate setting for a production of Map of My Kingdom, a one-act play commissioned by Practical Farmers of America and written by Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander to tackle the tough issue of land transition. A performance and discussion starting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, at the Backstage Theater, 121 South Ridge Street in Breckenridge, kicks off Downtown Colorado Inc.’s 35th annual conference; two full days of events focusing on community revitalization lead directly (and conveniently) into the Colorado Creative Industries meeting in the same town. For a complete schedule and prices, go to downtowncoloradoinc.org.

Wednesday, May 3

Melding R&B and dance music is nothing new, but a modern wave of producers and DJs has elevated the union made in dance-floor heaven to new heights — think the Weeknd and his sexy, slow digitized beats that work in both the bedroom and the club. For his iteration of the two genres, Sweater Beats, the 29-year-old DJ/producer from Los Angeles, draws inspiration from songs like Ginuwine’s “Pony” and gives his adoring fans catchy beats with a sensual edge. Sweater, aka Antonio Cuna, will stop by Summit Music Hall for an all-ages show on Wednesday, May 3. Get tickets, $20 to $25, and information at thesummitmusichall.com.

Thursday, May 4

Star Wars fans, you don’t have to wait until Episode IX to celebrate all things Luke and Leia. On Thursday, May 4, (of course, that’s May the Fourth to you, young Padawan), the Curtis Hotel, 1405 Curtis Street, is hosting Art War, a Star Wars-themed, art-focused costume party with music, dancing and booze. The night begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Curtis; for information and tickets, which range from $30 to a $300 VIP hotel-package option, go to artwardenver.com or eventbrite.com.

Head for the hills for the sixth annual Creative Industries Summit, a state-sponsored confab in Breckenridge filled with two days of activities designed to help Colorado’s cultural leaders stay creative in these days of tightening budgets. Speaking of which, Jane Chu, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, will deliver a keynote address at lunch on opening day, Thursday, May 4; a luncheon on Friday, May 5, will feature both the Governor’s Creative Leadership Awards and a speech by Meow Wolf founder Vince Kadlubek. In between, there will be exhibits, receptions, performances and panels (including one I’ll be on to discuss “Preservation in Action at the World’s Wonder View Tower”). Should be quite the arty party; find the complete schedule at coloradocreativeindustries.org.

UGA performs during the Deuce Coupe ballet, 1973.

Despite its outlaw origins, traced back to New York and Philadelphia as long ago as 1967, graffiti has blossomed into a commodified high-art movement that has influenced music and fashion while becoming an integral part of the cityscape. MCA Denver’s Wall Writers: Graffiti in Its Innocence celebrates the form’s early pioneers with an extensive exhibit of murals and photographs curated by Roger Gastman, who directed a documentary and compiled a book of the same name. Those who’ve slept on this fascinating exhibit until now have one final chance this weekend, when Wall Writers will conclude its run with celebratory send-off events lasting two days. On Thursday, May 4, join Gastman and Mike Giant, a fixture of skateboarding and graffiti’s early years, for an exhibition talk at 7 p.m at the MCA, 1485 Delgany Street. Then, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday, May 5, the museum will host a dance party with DJ Egyptian Lover. And finally, on Sunday, May 6, at 7 p.m., the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, will screen Wall Writers. Visit denverfilm.org and mcadenver.org for tickets and information.

Although the Emerging Filmmakers Project at the Bug Theatre keeps the soul of Denver’s independent film community on screen once a month throughout the year, the Den-Ex Film Fest, now in its third iteration, is where you’ll see the truly experimental stuff, says EFP crew member (and Westword MasterMind) Johnny Morehouse. “We’ll have non-narrative documentaries, animation, scratched-on film, you name it; we really tried to get to the raw part of experimental film,” explains Morehouse, who will serve as host for the five-hour program, which begins at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, at the Bug, 3654 Navajo Street. The evening’s films were curated by filmmaker John Hartman and EFP festival director Eileen Agosta; none will last longer than ten minutes, Morehouse adds, which will help audience members stay on top of the demanding and unconventional content. Admission is $10 at the door; for more information, go to efpdenver.com or facebook.com/events/1002809136517262.

Denver civic health club Warm Cookies of the Revolution has long been in the business of answering stupid questions, many of them pertinent to political survival, with periodic sessions of “Stupid Questions, Stupid Talents” over the years. Usually, that means that the learning portion of the event is tempered by a hilarious break for what amounts to Stupid Human Tricks, à la David Letterman. This time around, the question is a serious one — “What is sanctuary, and how does it work?” — and instead of public ear-wiggling and slurping spaghetti noodles through one’s nose, Warm Cookies will present a live wrestling match, courtesy of Rocky Mountain Pro Wrestling. The other half? You’ll be hearing from Jeanette Vizguerra and Ingrid Encalada Latorre, two immigrants seeking sanctuary in Denver (Vizguerra was just named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2017), and the money collected at the door will benefit people like them, via the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition. Experience both from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue; a suggested donation of $5 to $10 is requested, but no one will be turned away. And, yes, there will be cookies. Learn more and register in advance at warmcookiesoftherevolution.org.

Keep reading for more events this week.

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TheBigWonderful returns!

Friday, May 5

After establishing himself as a consummate emcee and television presenter during the waning days of the ’80s comedy boom, Cedric the Entertainer has enjoyed a thriving career as a standup and character actor. Known for his penchant for fine hats and his sonorous voice and unhurried comic timing, Cedric became a household name after The Original Kings of Comedy premiered in 2000, reviving the theatrical release of standup films and minting stars out of its four co-headliners. Hot off the triumph of his 2016 Netflix special Live From the Ville, Cedric the Entertainer returns to Denver for a headlining engagement at the Denver Improv, 8246 East 49th Avenue, with showtimes at 7:30 and 10 p.m on Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6. Visit denver.improv.com for more information and tickets.

In 2010, Tyler Clementi died by suicide after his roommate in college cyberbullied him for being gay. His death drew attention to bullying on the Internet and the issues facing LGBTQ teens. To honor his life, Harmony: A Colorado Chorale, Denver’s LGBTQA chorus, has partnered with the Tyler Clementi Foundation to bring Tyler’s Suite, a nine-piece choral movement dedicated to him that has toured the country, to the Broomfield Auditorium, 3 Community Park Road in Broomfield, and Central Presbyterian Church, 1660 Sherman Street, on Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6, respectively. Jane Clementi, Tyler’s mother, who has become an advocate since his death, will speak at both performances, which begin at 7:30 p.m. For information and tickets, $25 to $60, visit harmonychorale.org.

Get to know the Colfax you’ve never met.

VSA Colorado’s ArtWorks Program helps disabled young adults transitioning into the workforce by helping them develop profitable skills through art-making. That’s huge, but it does even more than that: The program validates students as they traverse the real world, and in Denver, there’s no world more real than Colfax Avenue, 24/7. For 26 Miles of Awesome — Colfax, a new show opening at VSA’s Access Gallery, ArtWorks students got down and gritty with Denver’s notorious urban corridor, creating artworks depicting Colfax landmarks, from the Aurora Fox Theater in Aurora to Casa Bonita in Lakewood — and everywhere in between. That’s what we call street art! The show opens with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 5, and runs through June 2 at Access, 909 Santa Fe Drive. Additional receptions are scheduled on May 18 and June 2. Find opening-reception details at facebook.com/events/1814870312113187.

Spring is here, and that means TheBigWonderful is back and spilling over with its trademark something-for-everyone trifecta, including a huge shopping bazaar and food truck congregation, a big beer-and-spirits fest and lots of live music, all at one large, open location at 4400 Fox Street. It kicks off with a Cinco de Mayo happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, May 5, with music on the main stage until 10; cruise the bazaar and enjoy more beer and music from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 6 and 7. Tickets run from $5 to $59, with various packages offered. Learn more at thebigwonderful.com.

The 2016 Cinco de Mayo Festival.

Saturday, May 6

The recent presidential election and subsequent women’s marches held across the world have inspired a new crop of female leaders to run for office. To support that cause locally, Fallen Owl Tattoo Studio, 8789 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood, will ink “Nevertheless, she persisted” on a hundred people on Saturday, May 6. The quote — from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s reading of a cautionary letter from Coretta Scott King regarding now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions — has become a battle cry in the women’s-rights movement. Proceeds from the day will go to She Should Run, a nonprofit that encourages women to run for public office. Though the event is already closed to those wanting permanent ink, you can stop by Fallen Owl from 12 to 9 p.m. to get a temporary tattoo or to make a donation to She Should Run, which is expected to receive over $5,000. For more information, visit facebook.com/events/129919224205971.

On May 5, 1862, in the town of Puebla, the outnumbered Mexican army defeated French forces in one of the major battles in the long fight for independence. That’s reason alone to mark Cinco de Mayo, but there’s special reason to celebrate here: This year’s Cinco de Mayo Festival is the thirtieth annual iteration of the event in Denver. NEWSED, the nonprofit that supports economic opportunities for west Denver residents, got its start in 1973, and quickly gained recognition for its efforts with a Cinco de Mayo celebration that started on Santa Fe Drive, then moved to Civic Center Park. From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, and Sunday, May 7, the park will be filled with music, performances and general merriment — and it’s all free. (Food and drink are extra.) Additional activities include Zumba classes, a taco-eating contest, a fashion show and a parade that starts at the City & County Building at 11 a.m. on May 6. Party! Find the complete schedule at cincodemayodenver.com.

The horses are on the track! And hopefully you’re on track to attend the Denver Derby Party, one of the largest Kentucky Derby bashes outside of Louisville (Kentucky, that is, not Colorado). The party is currently sold out, but you can join a wait list for tickets at denverderby.com. The horsey hoopla gets started at the Denver Performing Arts Complex’s Sculpture Park at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 6. Ladies, take down your finest Derby Day bonnets, and gents, don your best seersucker suits — because things are going to get Southern straight away, with mint juleps, food from more than eighteen restaurants and caterers, and a view of the televised races. One hundred percent of the proceeds from ticket sales will fund the Sean ‘Ranch’ Lough Memorial Scholarship. Giddyup!

Pirate:Contemporary Art is moving to Lakewood.

Pirate: Contemporary Art, one of Denver’s oldest co-op galleries, is headed to new digs in Lakewood after nearly forty years in northwest Denver, forced to move on by the rising costs of renting space in the city. A good portion of those years were spent at 3655 Navajo Street, and that’s where Pirate members and friends will gather for a Pirate Moving Party and Fundraiser from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 6. It also marks the final day of the space’s last shows: A New Look at the American West, by Laura Phelps Rogers, and Privo, by Maeve Leslie, in the Associates’ Gallery. Admission to the going-away party is free, but donations will be accepted, and if you can’t make it, help Pirate get its new space shipshape by contributing to the gallery’s GoFundMe page, at gofundme.com/help-pirate-set-sail. Visit pirateartonline.org for details.

Fresh off a triumphant performance at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, Itchy-O will take the stage at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, on Saturday, May 6, for the annual, international “May the Sith Be With You” Star Wars celebration. The notoriously anonymous performance group promises to “keep the Prometheus fire warm for us earthlings” as it brings its “special brand of supernatural time-bending sci-fi ritual performance back here to Earth.” Doors open at 9 p.m. for the all-ages show; buy tickets, $20, at theorientaltheater.com (they’ll be $30 at the door). And may the force be with us all!

“Food trucks! Local brews! Live music!” That’s how the organizers of Cervezas y Hamburguesas describe the outdoor celebration of beer and burgers scheduled for 5:30 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, at the Studios at Overland Crossing, 2205 South Delaware Street. The fest will serve up street eats from Matt’s Snack Shack, the Pasty Republic and Rezzy’s Kitchen along with mariachi bands, local brews and DJs, all for $40 (or $50 cash at the door) — and kids get in free. Proceeds from the event will benefit Extended Hands of Hope, which provides safe and supportive housing for survivors of domestic sex trafficking. Tickets are available at eventbrite.com.

Sheila Broderick from a memorial event page on Facebook

Sunday, May 7

Starting in the ’80s, when she was just fourteen, Pam Puente was a force in Denver’s punk scene. Garnering a reputation as a wild child, she also earned the affection — and occasional ire — of the people around her. The mother of two passed away earlier this year, and her community is rallying for a memorial show at the Skylark Lounge, 140 South Broadway, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 7. Dirty Lookers, Double Barrel Slingshot, Sputnik Slovenia, Cunnilingus, the Hacks and more will plug in and crank up the volume in memory of this local punk stalwart. Whether or not you knew Puente, this will be a riotous, not-to-miss show. Admission is $10. For more information, call 303-722-7844.

Monday, May 8

Work Options for Women empowers women to achieve sustained employment, specifically in the food-service industry. Now in its twentieth year, WOW is hosting its 13th annual WomenCook! fundraiser gala on Monday, May 8, at Temple Emanuel, 51 Grape Street, from 5 to 9 p.m. Enjoy grub from more than a dozen of Denver’s top female chefs, with food stations, silent and live auctions, and an appearance by Representative Leslie Herod (House District 8). Tickets are $125 each and available at workoptions.org. Visit the site for more details and a complete list of participating chefs.

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