Steeped in superstition, people are often wary of Friday the 13th, but for a certain monthly dance party this past Friday the 13th was a date to remember. Over the course of just one year, a small upstart queer-friendly all ages dance party affectionately called Damn Gurl had been recognized beyond just its niche, recently winning the title of Denver's "Best Dance Party" from the local publication Westword. Created as a safe place to dance for the GLBT community, the open and accepting atmosphere made the event appealing for anyone that simply wanted to have a good time. This particular Friday the 13th was a momentous occasion, marking Damn Gurl's one year anniversary. I went to check out the celebration and ended up finding a dance party quite unlike any other I've seen before.
I entered through the unassuming front door to be greeted by smiling faces at a decorated table ready to accept donations for entry. Then I went through a hallway and a small room, where the only hint of a party thus far was the greeter's table and streamers covering the open doorways. But once I passed into the main room, there was no doubt I was in the right place as the lights and decor instantly made it known. I arrived just in time to catch a set from Damn Gurl resident DJ Werq, who was working the decks with house music to coax the early crowd to the dance floor. As Werq provided the soundtrack, I soaked in the surrounding atmosphere, and even early on I could tell this party was quite unique.
It turned out Damn Gurl is a party that happens in various stages, with a steadily growing and ever-changing crowd as the party progresses through the night. The one constant seemed to be the open and accepting atmosphere that felt comfortably judgment-free. As local DJ Peter Black took the decks next, pumping deep house vibes through the speakers, a steady flow of dancers came trickling into the place, until suddenly the dance floor was bustling with bodies - bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors and orientations. The inviting atmosphere of Damn Gurl attracted anyone that wanted to party, allowing individuals to be as expressive and creative as they pleased, making for truly genuine personalities within the venue walls.
By the time Denver local CacheFlowe began his DJ set, the next stage was well under way - a full on sweaty dance party with such vivid energy it was almost surreal. CacheFlowe kept the dance floor fed with a steady diet of house music, hip-hop and booty jams, with the dance floor chomping heartily on every single beat. Another effect of Damn Gurl's accepting atmosphere is that people are free to dance as they please - there is no pretension and no one cares how you choose to do it - no wonder Damn Gurl has received the recognition it has for being a great place to dance.
Damn Gurl switched things up a bit around midnight, flipping on the house lights and creating a space on the dance floor for the next local performer, ASiEL. The self-proclaimed "King of Hip-Pop", grabbed the microphone as the crowd surrounded him on the dance floor. Soon, heavy bootylicious beats blared from the speakers as ASiEL began to rhyme over them, spitting unabashedly gay lyrics steeped in truth, humor and pride in a high energy display that much of the crowd adored.
After that, there was still much more party left in the tank. Where most parties start winding down around this time, Damn Gurl kicked it into another gear. Local DJ Pnut took the decks next, supplying the crowd with a mid-tempo mix. The set was at the perfect balance for it's slot in the night - fast enough to keep people moving but not so much as to overwhelm the dance floor. As the lights went dim and the lasers went back on, the carefree dancers on the floor kept the perspiration flowing.
With several acts already come and gone and the energy level already so high, I was curious how the next DJ, Mike G from California, would be able to keep the party going. He kept it going because of two factors: first, the dancers at Damn Gurl are no slouches and they are used to partying through the night so as long as they have fuel they'll be ready to go; second, Mike G brought with him to Denver a highly flammable arsenal of uptempo bangers and slow and low bass-heavy jams. That meant the energy within The Glob shot through the roof as the humidity within the venue walls escalated to a whole new level while Damn Gurl continued to define the true meaning of sweaty.
The last phase of the party that I witnessed began deep into the night - or into the next morning if you see it that way. DJ Peter Black returned to the decks alongside resident DJ and one of the founders of Damn Gurl, Narky Stares. The combination of the two, known as Black Stares, began a marathon mix session that would go as long as people could stand to dance. I'll admit, I couldn't make it for the long haul on this particular night, but I'm sure there were plenty that had no problem doing so.
Reflecting on the night, it became pretty obvious to me why this dance party has received the acclaim that it has. The open atmosphere allows for a crowd with good vibes that welcomes anyone who is comfortable with both who they are and with who the people are around them. The variety of performances kept the night flowing steadily - there was never a dull moment. The lack of pretense or judgement made for a place the felt safe and earnest. Damn Gurl may not appeal to everyone, but those that just want to have a good time and leave a world of negativity behind ought to give the night a try - you may never want to leave.
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