Best Swing Club 2000 | The Bash on Ash | Arts & Entertainment | Phoenix
Like Davy Crockett and the besieged band of rebels holed up at the Alamo, the local swing contingent refuses to wave the proverbial white flag and ditch the retro craze that's been replaced by Latin dance fever. Just as neo-swing bands have seen their sales and popularity dwindle, so too has the local movement of clubs and clubgoers that once led an active Valley scene dedicated to the style. Not surprisingly, the last holdout is the Bash on Ash, a repeat winner in this category, and one of the few nightspots still clinging to its faith in big-band booty-shakers with its weekly Thursday night swing set.

But these dancers are a determined bunch of cats and kittens. Even if the whole world is against this dying fad (and it seems that way), they're gonna go down swingin'!

Readers' Choice: The Bash on Ash

Best Joint for BPM Junkies and Fashion-Conscious Candy Ravers

Swell Records

Through police-instigated turmoil and the rave scene's unfortunate media-hyped drug hysteria associations, Swell has soldiered on for the past seven years selling the records that are spun at parties and the gear that the kids sport, throwing raves (including Musik, an annual event that's arguably the year's best consistently), and releasing cassettes, vinyl and CDs by local luminaries like the Bombshelter DJs and RC Lair.

Owner Russ Ramirez has a stellar cast of techno intelligentsia doing the shop's purchasing, including house master Pete Salaz and DJ Radar. The stock is consistently of-the-moment, a daunting task in the electro scene, which largely revolves around 12-inch vinyl singles. If you're into the BPM scene (that's "beats per minute" to all the rave-challenged) beyond just Ecstasy and Blow-Pops, you already know Swell.

Best Live Band to See in the Middle of a Three-Day Bender

Grave Danger

For those arguing that rock 'n' roll is truly the devil's music, they might just have the evidence they need in the form of local combo Grave Danger. It's not the band's sound -- which isn't really satanic rock, but actually a kind of surf-tinged rockabilly. Nor is it the songs -- usually sprite instrumentals or cartoonish tales of drunken and homicidal mayhem. It's just that whenever this trio hits the stage, the audience -- composed of normally upstanding citizens and community members -- follows the band down a road of booze-fueled hedonism, excess and good old-fashioned destructive fun.

Revived after a lengthy absence this past year, Grave Danger has been earning praise, popularity and costly repair bills for a series of performances that have seen band members passing out, diving into crowds, destroying stages and shaving their heads onstage. Taking their cues from well-imbibed showstoppers (Janis Joplin, George Jones, Foster Brooks), a Grave Danger concert makes folks forget God, good manners and city ordinances, leaving most venues drowning in a post-show ocean of blood, sweat and broken bottles. Forget the old bit about a rock 'n' roll heaven. If there's a rock 'n' roll hell, Grave Danger's gonna be the house band.

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