Denver Kush Club
2615 Welton Street, Denver, CO 80205
Why you should go: old school vibe, historically significant neighborhood; conveniently located near public transportation; good prices; easy, conversational experience
Denver is a great place. Fantastic. Amazing. The words “heaven on Earth” were heard in recent conversation. Hyperbole, perhaps, but at least a kernel of truth. To many people, Denver means freedom, symbolized in the wide-open feeling of the west, the rugged Rockies, and the abundance of legal cannabis.
Long before marijuana was mainstream in Denver, though, it belonged to the jazz musicians. And the jazz musicians played in Five Points. Nicknamed the “Harlem of the West” because such icons as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Louis Armstrong performed and stayed in the neighborhood, Five Points offered a freedom that African-Americans couldn’t find elsewhere due to discriminatory housing laws and other racially based exclusions. While urban flight and an influx of crime led to decades of decline, Five Points is once again demonstrating signs of the rich cultural life that made it famous in the early part of the 20th century. The Five Points Jazz Festival, emerging businesses, and the potential for redevelopment of the Rossonian Night Club and Hotel create an ambiance that is both vibrant and nostalgic.
The Denver Kush Club plays up the neighborhood’s old school feel, a cozy space tucked among a row of brick buildings along a stretch of urban thoroughfare across from a Light Rail stop. Its logo, vaguely reminiscent of the Nuggets’ beloved rainbow uniforms, is some fascinating mash up of an Ezra Jack Keats illustration (remember The Snowy Day?) and a marquee for a James Brown show. Unprompted, Janelle Monáe’s “We Were Like Rock & Roll” began to play in our mind as we walked the half block from the train to the storefront. Capturing the whole juxtaposed modern/throwback vibe, it’s a perfect anthem for a trip to the Denver Kush Club.
We were still bobbing our head as we entered the small vestibule area, which opened up to a large, uncluttered space. A deep burgundy color, the walls displayed canvases of abstract paintings by local artists and huge stylized portraits of Hunter Thompson. This visual appeal, combined with a palpable lack of pretension, made DKC one of the more comfortable places we’ve tried.
The three budtenders were all enthusiastically engaged with patrons. Smiling faces and spirited conversation suggested a positive, enjoyable experience for staff and customers alike. Everyone seemed happy to be there together. Another relic from a bygone era, the NARC arcade game situated near the bathroom door lent a sense of wistful whimsy to the relaxed and cheery atmosphere, and something about the crude pixelated images combined with the sweet smell of cannabis immediately transported us back to the basement Nintendo tournaments we loved so much as younger connoisseurs.
Soon, a staff member was available and ready to give us some uncut takes on the goods. Though we didn’t intend to buy CBD products, we were curious about them, and our budtender willingly indulged our inquisitiveness. He talked extensively about the various salves, lotions, and other delivery methods that have recently come on the market and made recommendations for particular circumstances and conditions.
There was no hesitation in his voice when he responded to our query about his favorite indica in stock that day; he confidently reached for the Berry White. A clever name for the dark green buds coated in a frosty layer of crystals, which attracted our unwavering stare, it also seemed a fitting tribute to the neighborhood’s musical roots. Regardless, these buds looked like the last Sour Patch Kid you pop in your mouth, completely coated with sugar from mingling with so many pals at the bottom of the bag.
Next we asked about a strain on the opposite end of the spectrum, and, without pause, he went for a jar of Golden Goat, an of-the-moment sativa at several local shops. He knew exactly what we’d been searching for. He also told us we were visiting at a good time, when Denver Kush Club’s menu of cannabis was full of incredible options. We were happy to hear about, and smell, as many of those options as he wanted to discuss.
We like talking about cannabis, and so do our favorite budtenders. Obviously we’ve come here to make a purchase, but at DKC it never feels like a purely commercial interaction. It’s informative, comfortable, and human. There are a lot of options in Denver, so this last part matters quite a bit. We return to the places where we feel most at ease, where we’re treated like more than just a (sometimes substantial) handful of bills.
Denver Kush Club was fully stocked with fantastic flowers, concentrates, and an assortment of edibles and topicals, all at some of the more reasonable prices we’ve encountered. They also have frequent deals and promotions, like a free t-shirt with a $50 purchase. Yards away from a Light Rail stop, its accessibility wins major bonus points. But the thing that really struck us was the laid back, unassuming quality of both the space and the interactions. There was a refreshing authenticity to the Denver Kush Club, and to the Five Points neighborhood, a simple, clear trumpet solo you rewind and listen to again and again.