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Editor’s Note: The CU Independent does not condone or encourage ANY illegal or dangerous activity, especially those including fire, trespassing or cheap beer.
It’s no secret that Boulder is expensive. Food is expensive, rent is high and transportation is tough. Once these necessities are taken care of, it can seem difficult to afford entertainment but, let’s face it, spending every weekend drinking cheap beer can get old. There are things to do, but imagination is necessary. You can even combine the cheap beer with these cheap activities to create some super-charged activities. This article is not meant to be a guide but a jumping off point.
1. Night hikes
The Flatirons are literally within walking distance, even at night, and they are 100 percent free. There’s something particularly excellent about exploring the mountains at night that is missing from the same activity during the day. Once the sun goes down, it is less crowded, and you can see out over miles of lit up Boulder. You can also go in your underwear and sing sea shanties if this idea is not “strange and exciting” enough for you.
2. Cheap or underground concerts
Break free of the $25 to $55 concert bracket. There is music happening all over the place that takes just a little more time and work to find but is well worth it. Look into smaller, community-centered music venues. At places like The Seventh Circle Music Collective, payment is often on a sliding scale of donations –nothing more than $8. While the music may not always be as good as it would be at the pricey shows, these concerts will always be interesting.
3. Make your own music
Still too broke, or not feeling up to searching for music? Create your own. While an instrument is not under $8, this article assumes you know some people somewhere. Someone you know must own a guitar, a mandolin or a ukulele. Sit down with friends, and try to learn a couple songs. Learning the music is as much fun as actually playing the finished product. So pass the instruments around, make a drum set out of pots, pans and your body and turn from the consumption of music to the production of it.
4. Urban exploring
There is an entire city –or two–out there just waiting to be seen and experienced. There are things happening behind those walls or above them, things you will never find out about until you go out of your way. So walk around at night, go down alley ways that you would not normally notice, try random doors to see where they lead, climb up fire escapes – you never know what you might find. There are bonus points to be had for doing this in a suit or with a good camera. It is a strange phenomena, but no one questions the presence of someone in a suit or holding a camera.
5. Art walks
Events like First Friday on Santa Fe Street in Denver are happening weekly. Read Westword for full listings, but the events can include free food, free entertainment and often free music. Third Fridays feature an event similar to First Friday; it’s just a little more exclusive, meant mostly for art collectors or dealers. Events like these are where the aforementioned suits and cameras come in handy. Show up, act like you own the place, eat some delicious free food, snap some photos and get out without spending a cent.
6. Poetry events
Not all poetry is the slow, meandering, pretentious stuff you were taught in 8th grade. Slam poetry and the culture surrounding it is meant to bring the art back to the audience by making it a competition and putting a short time limit on the poems. There are at least three slam events a week in Denver and the occasional slam in Boulder. The staple slam of Colorado takes place at the Mercury Cafe in Denver on Sunday nights. There is a jam before the slam until 8 p.m., then an open mic until 9 p.m. and then a slam from 9 to around 11 p.m. On a good night, there will be a feature from out of state. Also, as far as doing things cheap, all desserts are half off after 10 p.m.
7. Photography and light painting
Here’s another activity you were taught and probably bored by, but I bet the people who taught you never did it with fire. Again, this article assumes you know some people somewhere, if you do not own a camera yourself. All you need is a camera that has a manual mode and something to prop it up on. With the recent drop in price, it seems like everyone has a DSLR camera now. Read up on the basics of long exposure photos; then go out at night, and do it yourself. This suggestion goes hand-in-hand with urban exploring, because the more interesting the background, the more interesting the photo.
As far as the aforementioned fire, find an abandoned lot, and attach some string to a piece of metal and some steel wool and ignite it. Whip it around in a circle so the sparks shoot off in every direction. The effect is strange and wonderful – plus, you get to light stuff on fire. Light painting can also be done with glow sticks, rave lights and just plain old headlamps. The more imagination you put into the process, the better the photo. So go climb a building, light stuff on fire and create something.
8. Free days at museums
All Denver museums have free days. The Denver Art Museum has one once a month, and the others also have fairly frequent open door days. Check their websites, and go learn some things.
The point is that you do not need to spend money to experience life. Music is in the hands of the maker, and most of the interesting world out there can be explored for free with a little ingenuity and invention. Throw that cheap beer in your backpack, grab a camera and go check out what is happening on the other side of your door.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jacob Spetzler at Jacob.firstname.lastname@example.org.