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Creatures of the Night
Damien Williamson | Photo: Photos by Matt Power and Michael Goldberg | February 12, 2013
Leave it to these late-night gurus to keep the après party going.
A spen is known for a lot of things: four mountains with slopes equally equipped for ski bunnies and world-class athletes, shopping that rivals Fifth Avenue and St. Moritz, and a cultural event calendar that keeps even the most savvy traveler engaged.
But this tiny mountain hamlet’s nightlife scene might just be its most underrated attribute, especially for those who have never been here. From après-ski locales where day quickly turns to night, to a restaurant bar scene that seamlessly blends food and fun, to several subterranean dance clubs that keep the party going well into the wee hours of the night, Aspen serves as a microcosm of late-night revelry. The nightlife scene truly has something for everyone, with places for ski bums and jet-setters, locals and tourists—and plenty of options in between—to mix and mingle together.
And along the way, these up-all-night nocturnals will make sure the fun doesn’t stop.
DJ, Eric’s Bar
After sundown, all roads in Aspen inevitably lead to Eric’s. The four-bar complex—including Mexican eatery Su Casa, smoking room Cigar Bar, pool and shuffle board hall Aspen Billiards and swanky Eric’s itself—is where the evening gets ratcheted up a few notches. And Michael Nakagawa, aka DJ Naka G, is the master of ceremonies. From his corner perch, Naka G’s infectious beats—which have been influenced by everyone from Grandmaster Flash to Ozomatli—have a decidedly hip-hop and old-school flair that have the ability to get even the most timid dancer out on the floor. Thursday nights are when he spins his magic. But if you miss his set, you can always catch him at the Winter or Summer X Games, where he serves as the resident DJ. Just don’t ask him to play any One Direction.
Bouncer, The Regal Watering Hole
If it’s 1am and you’re still out in Aspen, chances are pretty good that you’ll come across Gerald DeLisser. As one of just a handful of bouncers in town—a job that’s admittedly easier here than in a big city—his job is to be the gatekeeper for what is likely the final stop of the night. And while he—nor really anyone in Aspen for that matter—doesn’t fit the typical mold of a bouncer, DeLisser, with his scruffy face and stout stature, is just intimidating enough to ward off any would-be, late-night rabble-rousers. As the hip-hop, dubstep and electronic music vibrates through the grates below like a siren song beckoning to get in for last call, DeLisser is tasked with keeping the peace and weeding out those who may have already had a little too much fun during the evening. “Drunk people are like kids,” he says. “Fortunately, I really like kids.” Particularly kids who love to get out on the floor and dance.
Dinner has never turned into tequila shots as quickly as it does at Jimmy’s. And whether you’re in the more raucous bar or sitting down in the dining room with friends for a home-style meatloaf or top-notch steak, Dylan Regan is the man getting the libation-fueled evening off to a stellar start. He’s been the man behind the bar at Jimmy’s since 1998 (the year it opened)—a rare bit of longevity in a transient town. The reason? Locals and tourists alike enjoy the casual vibe. “And the bar can be packed starting at 6pm for the early-bird crowd and not even come close to clearing out till 2am,” he says. That might have something to do with the 105 varieties of tequila and mescal on hand.
PLAY THAT TUNE
DJ, Caribou Club
Folami Small wants the Caribou Club—Aspen’s original private club—to be one of the best venues in the world for new music. Ambitious? Certainly. But stranger things have happened (including a certain popular female TV news anchor—Katie Couric—dancing to techno music at the ‘Bou that forced Small out of her DJ booth to rubberneck). The classically trained flautist brought an urban, house-tinged flair from New York’s Lower East Side to one of Aspen’s two private clubs and the music into the 21st century. “It’s a very New York vibe at the Caribou,” she says. “But, in general, people are a few years behind here with their music. It’s my job to show them what they should be listening to.” Her first order of business when she arrived at the Caribou Club in 2005? Officially proclaiming that disco was dead.