The Closing of El Chapultapec

COVID has permanently shuttered many bars and venues, but the announcement from El Chapultapec in Denver really hits home for me.

This unassuming little bar in downtown was a long-standing institution in the music scene, not just locally but nationally too. You could go and hear incredible musicians in this tiny joint any night of the week, most playing not for the patrons but for the love and joy of music.

National touring performers have been stopping by El Chapultapec to jam there since it opened in 1933, including Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Tony Bennett, Bono, Mick Jagger, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and Jaco Pastorius.

But the what really made the Pec special was its role as a hub for the musical community. Old or young, rich or poor, black brown or white, musicians were always welcome to come and sit in with the regulars. This was the laboratory where many of Denver’s top jazz musicians experimented and learned from mentors and peers. Denver has many jazz venues, but there will never be another Pec.

Photo credits:

“El Chapultapec, Denver” by ldandersen is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

“sign outside of el chapultapec in downtown denver” by bradleygee is licensed under CC BY 2.0