Little Bear Saloon
Dazzle Restaurant and Lounge
Located south of downtown Denver in Englewood, the historic Gothic Theatre has been blending the present with the past for nearly eleven years now.
Beginning as a premier moviehouse in the 1920s, and undergoing refurbishments along the way, the building itself just screams nostalgia. After struggling along for many years, the Gothic was rescued from bankruptcy in 1998, completely renovated, and transformed into one of Denver’s most popular music and event venues–even while preserving its unique art deco vibe and the original marquis. Today, this reminder of the past hosts modern music of all genres, with an emphasis on modern rock–a successful blending of present and past.
Just driving to the Gothic is a little bit like stepping back in time, especially at night. Situated on South Broadway, the venue is in a part of the Denver metro where a lot of the older buildings and businesses are still intact. Old roadside motels are still in operation, and lots of mom-and-pop restaurants and small businesses still line the street, many of them sporting neon signs reminding you of days gone by. The larger national chain stores are around here and there, but they haven’t taken over–not here, not yet.
In its day, no doubt the Gothic Theatre was considered a massive structure; but by today’s standards it feels almost intimate, especially with loud rock music blaring through the speakers. On the ground level, a full bar lights the back area for customers. The layout is actually well-planned; the venue can seat 500 or accommodate a standing audience of 1000, according to the venue’s website. On the night I visited, there was a comfortable combination of seating and standing room; the front floor by the stage was open for standing and dancing, but the seating in the back was elevated where people could sit comfortably close to the stage without having their view obstructed. A large wrap-around balcony (also multi-tiered) allows for more seating or standing. But overall, the best part about the Gothic is the vibe of the building itself. It’s just feels fun to be there.
The only possible negative about the place is that despite the state-of-the-art sound system, the sound on the ground floor was a bit muddy the night I visited; the sound from the balcony (where the soundboard also happens to be located) was crisper and cleaner overall, which might suggest that the sound guys were mixing the music according to their own position, and that the balcony might not be the best place to have the sound board.
Sound issues aside–if you are a Denver local, you owe it to yourself to see a band play the Gothic, at least once. It’s a great venue with a great vibe, and a great place to experience the present in the context of the past.
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