PHX Nightclub • Bar Smith • Sky Lounge • Silver Martini & Wine Bar
Teeming with off-the-hook action every weekend, the four-club hub near Washington and First streets is a virtual adult playground. Apple-bottomed babes bump and bounce amidst the upscale urban scene of PHX Nightclub, while turntablists set record decks ablaze with hip-hop and house inside Bar Smith. Booming Latin beats blast from both floors at Sky Lounge, and ultra-chic drinkery Silver offers plenty of bottle-poppin' fun.
PHX Nightclub: 122 E. Washington St., 602-258-1830, phxnightclub.com • Bar Smith: 130 E. Washington St., 602-229-1265, barsmithphoenix.com • Sky Lounge: 132 E. Washington St., 602-229-1110, skyloungephoenix.com • Silver Martini & Wine Bar: 136 E. Washington St., 602-253-8300, silver136.com
Boasting a heady mix of swinging '60s cocktail chic and retro-futuristic décor, SideBar is downtown's newest "it" spot amongst scenesters and urbanites. Soaked in dark ambiance, the lounge's funky illuminated bar is manned by able bartenders who create custom concoctions of freshly squeezed juice and liquor, like the Lynwood Palmer and Sidebar Collins. A sizable menu of beer, wine, and other spirits is also available.
1514 N. 7th Ave. (2nd floor), Phoenix, 602-254-1646, sidebarphoenix.com.
Club DWNTWN • Club Palazzo • Club Miami
The party runs past last call at Steven Rodger's threesome of discotheques. Instead of sleeping, bump your hump until 5 a.m. to four different Latin mixmasters at Club DWNTWN, or get freaky with the groovy ghouls gathered for Palazzo's Tranzylvania goth night on Fridays. And over at Amsterdam's Club Miami, DJs Juan Rocha and Sistersin drop high-energy dance beats until dawn.
Club DWNTWN: 702 N. Central Ave., 602-258-8343, clubdwntwn.com • Club Palazzo: 710 N. Central Ave., 602-229-1150, clubpalazzo.net • Amsterdam: 718 N. Central Ave., 602-258-6122, amsterdambar.com
Cheuvront Wine & Cheese Bar
Oenophiles (lovers of the fermented grape) can discover Dionysian bliss at haute spot Cheuvront Wine & Cheese Bar. Owned by Democratic state Senator Ken Cheuvront, this posh wine palace offers more than 30 different kinds of vino by the glass, 150 others by the bottle, and an array of artisan cheeses and gourmet cuisine to complement. And if you can't make up your mind, in-house sommelier Jeff Grenfel will gladly make a recommendation.
1326 N. Central Ave., 602-307-0022, cheuvront.biz
The Trunk Space
Populated by a kooky coterie of performers and artists, the Trunk Space has become a haven for nationally touring indie outfits like Quintron and Miss Pussycat, as well as a number of burgeoning local bands. Over the past five years, a quirky cross-section of comedians, theater troupes, fringe acts, poets, and freakazoids have also graced the Grand Avenue venue's tiny stage.
1506 Grand Ave., 602-256-6006, thetrunkspace.com.
Bikini Lounge • Philthy Phil's
Dives are an endangered species around downtown these days, but the tiki-themed Bikini Lounge stays afloat thanks to economically priced pitchers of PBR and Heineken, plus its unquestionable hipster appeal. The young and pretty also love slumming at Philthy Phil's, where the alcohol is inexpensive ($2.50 domestic bottles and well drinks daily), the pour is strong, and the pool tables are busy.
Bikini Lounge: 1502 Grand Ave., 602-252-0472 • Philthy Phil's: 2939 N. 16th St., 602-279-4339
Z Girl Club • Pat O's Bunkhouse Saloon • The Rock
Phoenix is a nightspot hotspot for gay and lesbian clubgoers, particularly along Seventh Avenue's Melrose District. Ladies of a sapphic bent (or those who are simply "curious") head for Z Girl Club, while Pat O's Bunkhouse Saloon is a destination for beer-guzzling bears and leather-loving manly men. And at The Rock, a diverse clientele gathers to partake in nightly distractions ranging from karaoke to poker.
Z Girl Club: 4301 N. Seventh Ave., 602-265-3233, zgirlclub.com • Pat O's Bunkhouse Saloon: 4428 N. 7th Ave., 602-200-9154, bunkhousesaloon.com • The Rock: 4129 N. 7th Ave., 602-248-8559, myspace.com/therocklaroca
The Ruby Room Lounge
While its location's hard to find and the surrounding neighborhood's kinda dodgy, we always jump at the opportunity to catch a gig at the Ruby Room Lounge. Especially since owner Greg Riggins (who operated the Emerald Lounge back in the day) consistently books a wide variety of cool-ass musical acts at the swanky dive, including punk outfit NunZilla, retro garage greats The Love Me Nots, and indie pop band Colorstore, just to name a few.
717 S. Central Ave., 602-258-6900, myspace.com/therubyroomlounge
The Lost Leaf
There's no great mystery behind the Lost Leaf's rampant popularity. In addition to an artsy boho vibe and eclectic lineup of live music, the vintage-looking drinking den slings more than 85 varieties of bottled beers and brews to thirsty patrons, as well as 25 different wines. Just forget about getting inside on First Friday, as the place is usually packed.
914 N. 5th St., 602-252-4168, thelostleaf.org
Char's • Chez Nous • The Rhythm Room
Downtown gets down on a nightly basis, thanks to a trio of nightspots specializing in soul, funk, and blues. Sultry R&B artists such as Lady J weave their spell throughout the week at Char's, while artists like the Roscoe Taylor-Tim Forkes Experience help add to the aura of cool at Chez Nous. And Bob Corritore's renowned Rhythm Room constantly features 12-bar superstars like Big Pete Pearson and Dave Riley.
Char's: 4631 N. 7th Ave., 602-230-0205, charshastheblues.com • Chez Nous: 915 Grand Ave., 602-266-7372, cheznouscentral.com • The Rhythm Room: 1019 E. Indian School Rd., 602-265-4842, rhythmroom.com
The Valley's rave scene is eerily comparable to the works of Dr. Seuss: Both are overly colorful, populated by bizarre characters, and offer tons of fun.
The all-night dance parties are ADD personified — a ginormous fun park for hyperactive teens and 20-somethings to dance until dawn amidst endless waves of throbbing electronic music and a thunderstorm of colored lights.
Some raves are run illegally, because of noise ordinances and a lack of proper permits. Since the local scene's heyday in the early '90s, the events typically go down in empty warehouses or out in the desert. While a few still operate illicitly, promoters have begun booking events in recent years at legal venues such as the Icehouse or the Fifth Avenue & Madison Center (which opened last summer).
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If you make it to one, you'll know you're there. Ravers come dressed in garish, brightly colored clothing or sport neon-dyed hair. And they're also armed with playthings. Besides waving glowsticks and sucking illuminated pacifiers, ravers tend to strap impossible amounts of colored bracelets on their arms and wrists, as if they were a DayGlo Madonna from the '80s.
Local event promoter Mitch Palmer says it's all just part of rave culture.
"Kids just like dressing stupid, having fun, and not having to worry about shit," he says. — Benjamin Leatherman