Immersive art is a thing now, but what does it mean? Usually it means something that is fully contained; rather than look at a painting in a frame on a wall, the painting might be projected and seemingly ooze from the wall as music plays; or you might put on virtual reality goggles and have the sensation of being in a desert as a helicopter lands in front while you actually stand in a warehouse.
There’s another type of immersion, one that isn’t necessarily related to art, that you can try out any time of year around the city. An immersive experience can be one where you temporarily leave your immediate reality and expectations as your senses tune into new and even unexpected stimuli. These experiences can be refreshing, overwhelming, relaxing, or some combination of all of these responses.
DENVER BEER SPA
Don’t just drink beer, soak in it! It’s called “beer bath hydrotherapy” or you can think of it as “beer tea.”
When you arrive at the Denver Beer Spa, there are your typical cold draft beers to choose from and enjoy — by just drinking them. Next, it’s time to head to a private room and begin the immersive experience of all things beer at once. Start with some sauna time, rinse off, then climb into your beer while still sipping your beer.
It’s all about beer, but you aren’t soaking in the same stuff you’re drinking. The Beer Bath is a mix of herbs, hops, and barley (unfermented and no yeast) with purported health benefits of detoxing, destressing, and improving your skin and hair.
While some immersive experiences can be over-stimulating, float pods are intended to remove all stimulus through isolated immersion. This might also be called a sensory deprivation tank.
Samana Float Center is just one of several businesses in Denver and the metro area that offer a floating pod or cabin where an individual is suspended in an isolated saline pool for an hour or so. The trick to getting the benefits — such as decreased anxiety, pain management, and more — of this immersive experience is to not overthink it and just let the body float for the session duration.
There are no phones, no music, no talking, no interaction, just floating on your back quietly.
For a more intense immersion, try the “fire and ice” treatment option. which is an infrared light sauna and cold plunge tank.
DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS
The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory at the Denver Botanic Gardens is more of a group immersion option. The building was designed by architects Edward White and Victor Hornbein and dedicated in 1966.
This is a winter getaway in the city for those who want to escape cold and ice and immerse themselves in tropical warmth and greenery. While the whirring fans aren’t part of a natural habitat, their gentle hum has a way of fully enveloping visitors as they walk along the paths, pushing banana tree leaves out of their way and snapping pictures of exotic blooms.
Like other immersive experiences, the conservatory is at its best when multiple senses are being engaged simultaneously with not just sights, but sounds, smells, and little surprises along the way.