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The Best of Aspen: Out on the town

BEST CLUB

Many have bemoaned the loss of the “club scene” that Aspen made famous over the past three decades, and to a certain extent they’re right. The number of vote-getters in this category certainly wasn’t what it used to be.

For us, the best club would probably be any new club, especially one that offered live music. What better way to fill an empty downtown space and boost Aspen’s lost vitality than to open some more good clubs so people can party the night away?

For the time being, however, the Double Diamond continues to hold the title of Aspen’s best club. The long-running club not only offers a great bar, good prices and a cool place to hang out, but its stage features everything from KISS cover bands to bikini contests to funk, reggae and rock. If you’re looking for music, dancing and a good night on the town, readers recommend the Double D.

For the first time that we can remember, the Double Diamond faced stiff competition in this category. Just one vote behind was a relative newcomer to the scene – the Lava Room. This underground bar has changed names so many times that it makes one’s head spin, but the current owners seem to have found the right combination: Loud music, lots of lights, a few dark corners and an atmosphere that lends itself to pure wildness.

Our favorite answers: Has it come to this? Have we all become so old that our “favorite club” is the Aspen Club, the Aspen Cycling Club or Alcoholics Anonymous? Well, all three received answers this year. Our favorite, however, was “a 7-iron.”

BEST LOCAL BAND/MUSICIAN

We predicted last year that Bobby Mason’s reign in this category would soon end. Though he won best band and musician in 2000 and 2001, last year he shared the spotlight with Little Blue. This year he fell – by just three votes – to No. 2.

The group now reigning supreme in the upper valley is Little Blue. Aspen’s a tough place for a rock band to stick together and land regular gigs, but Little Blue has obviously found the secret. See their name on a poster around town, and chances are the show will be packed.

If Aspen is short on live music venues, it’s certainly long on bands. This year’s list of bands and musicians was extensive, a good sign for our local music scene. Other top vote-getters included Dan Sheridan and Jes Grew.

Our favorite answer: No one attempted to be creative in this category … or maybe they did. The Friendly Dictators made this year’s list. We don’t know if they exist, but based on the name, we’d give ’em a listen.

BEST PUBLIC BATHROOM

This is one category where the longtime winner will gladly relinquish the throne (pun intended). We’re guessing the managers at the St. Regis hotel will be happy to see their marble-lined potties in the No. 2 (no pun intended) spot this year.

Despite all the controversy about their appearance, the Wagner Park bathrooms won the title this year.

The location of the best public bathroom may seem trivial to many readers, but if you’re out on a bar crawl and the clock suddenly tolls 2 a.m., knowing the best place to go is handy. It’s also important if you have kids.

So if you’re out and about in downtown Aspen, the best and most convenient spot is the massive new structure next to the clock at Wagner Park (we might add that it damn well better be the best bathroom in Aspen, because it cost taxpayers a fortune).

Our favorite answers: You can’t ask a question like this without getting a little bathroom humor. This year’s answers included “a tree” and “the world is my bathroom.” Our favorite, though, was an open porta-potty at the JAS Festival. Indeed, there’s nothing worse than standing in the beer line for an hour, only to do the same thing again when the beers run their course.

BEST JAZZ ASPEN PERFORMANCE EVER

Wow! Is this a great town or what? Read through the list of this year’s nominations and you’ll be overwhelmed at the talent that has strutted across the stages during the June and September festivals.

With so many nominations, most performers received only a couple of votes. The overwhelming winner, however, was the bluesy Joe Cocker, who played this June. Many people added comments to their ballots like “Joe Rocks!” or “Joe Cocker is my hero.” Cocker knocked ’em dead at Woodstock, and he proves that old rockers never die.

Following close behind was Willie Nelson, another old-timer who has played the same beat-up guitar for so long that you’d think he was strumming cobwebs. Country fan or not, everyone loves Willie when he takes the stage.

Other strong contenders in this category were Tony Bennett and the bluesy redhead Bonnie Raitt.

Our favorite answers: At least one person remains unimpressed and responded “still waiting.” Our favorite answer, though, was Neil Young, who has yet to take the stage this fall. We’re expecting a barnburner, too.

BEST PLACE FOR A ONE-NIGHT STAND

Sometimes we create categories because we really want to know the answer. This is a new one, and apparently there are plenty of places for a quick fling. Um, thanks for the info.

According to our readers, by far the place to find a one-night stand is Eric’s Bar, the popular club across the way from Su Casa. Don’t know what they’re serving in the drinks at Eric’s, but apparently it works. Or maybe it’s those couches they put in a few years ago. They make it easy to cozy up to someone without even having to make a move.

Well behind in second was the Lava Room (see above: wild music, crazy lights, gyrating bodies and couches).

Our favorite answers: This category openly invites goofy answers, and readers came through. We got everything from “no place I go” to “Silt” to “the 2 o’clock shuffle.” There were also warnings, like “it’s too dangerous” and “don’t do it.” Our favorite answer, however, was “Little Bear Antiques.” So what are they really selling over there?

BEST PLACE TO FIND A LONG-TERM ROMANCE

Well, it seemed only fair that if we were going to do a little research on reckless flings that we might also try to help the true romantics out there. And, as shown in the previous category, there are many places to find true love in Aspen.

Or not. It depends on whom you ask.

We had a tie between “not in Aspen” and “on the chairlift,” though the chairlift probably gets the nod because the Silver Queen Gondola got quite a few votes itself.

We expected “not in Aspen,” based on what we’ve heard and witnessed over the years. But we thought the chairlift technique had fallen out of favor. Guess there’s just something timeless about sitting in close quarters with a view to die for. A simple “want to take the next run?” begins a downhill slide right into love’s arms.

The No. 2 answer, another one of our favorites, was “the supermarket.” Must be something to do with that food-sex connection.

Our favorite answers: People had all kinds of ideas on where to find that special someone. One person suggested traveling to the Virgin Islands, while others begged “please tell me.” We liked the “First Baptist Church” (isn’t that where you go after you’ve fallen in love?), but the “Pitkin County Jail” was our favorite. They say it’s nice, as jails go.


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