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But in spite of the variety of newer chi-chi spots, we'll always have a soft spot in our hearts for Tut's. It's one of the few Tempe college spots that hasn't been demolished for high-rise condos, probably because of its location along Apache Boulevard, out of the way of the city's major redevelopment plan (for now.) The restaurant is a little tricky to get to thanks to light-rail construction, but the food especially the fail-safe, veggie-friendly appetizer menu and the hookah are worth the struggle. For about $10, you can puff the night away on a pillow, something we find especially rewarding now that we can't legally smoke cigarettes indoors anymore. The young crowd makes for some interesting, and hilarious, people watching we don't remember the last time we saw so many white college-boy 'fros in one place.
On some nights, the club is so jammed that people are resigned to using the club's two pool tables for seats. Notably, the bands who share bills at Casa Blanca help each other out setting up and breaking down equipment, and staying for each others' sets. When there's nobody onstage, Casa Blanca plays the coolest in-house mix of music, jamming out perennial faves like Fugazi and the Ramones.
Leave your rave glow sticks in the car this is a rock nightclub, right down to the décor, which features mosaic tabletops and original surrealist paintings. The only thing it needs now is more space.
Yes, lights up, as seen in Saturday Night Fever and your wildest dance floor dreams. We're not sure what it is, but something about the checkered floor flashing at us all night makes us want to dance, even when we hate the song. It makes us feel just a little, um, glamorous, while still allowing us to lurk around the dark corners of a dive bar. It certainly doesn't hurt that Glam (formerly Ky's Place) has spent the past several months building a pretty solid weekly lineup. So, the dance floor is usually packed, but not uncomfortably so, most nights of the week.
But the place doesn't scream "I love Cher" or any other yucky gay bar stereotype and we like that.
In a city where a lot of the gay clubs follow the same Top 40, Britney- and Madonna-heavy soundtrack, we're also into the fact that the owner is savvy enough to mix things up with a different theme for each night. On a given weekday, you might run into some of the Pussy Posse doing a suspension show (Thursday's Club Mistress) or an out of town "celebrity" DJ (Friday night's French Kiss).
Oh, and did we mention the place is nice? With one wall lined with private, extremely cushy bed-like cabanas (champagne service included) and an enormous dance floor (go-go dancers on the podium included), Burn has quickly become one of our favorites.
But it isn't just the cheap drinks and pampering that draw in the lesbian crowd: With such a small, circular scene, Amsterdam is one of the few places in Phoenix where longtime lesbian clubbers aren't guaranteed to run into an ex or some form of drama. And for lesbians who just want to have a good time and aren't necessarily looking to hook up, Amsterdam is the perfect environment for laid-back conversation and boozing without the brawling and bruising.
The Silver Pony also boasts live music on Friday and Saturday nights, something too many neighborhood bars have thrown out in the past few years in favor of DJs. The house band, the Bullseye Band, is pure roadhouse-style country, perfect to knock back a few unpretentious pitchers of Bud to (what, you think real blue-collar dudes still drink Pabst? Leave that for the just-turned-21 set over at the Rogue).
The place gets pretty packed on weekends, and is pretty much just a neighborhood crowd. Perfect if you live nearby, or if you're looking for a place to slip into the shadows away from the Tempe-Phoenix-Scottsdale crowd.