Best Dance Floor 2008 | Bar Smith's Rooftop | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix

Bar Smith is an early adopter of great DJs, great dance floors, and an overall big-city vibe we love to see hitting our bit of Sand Land. The upstairs outdoor dance floor is our fave in this town. Sure, it might be toasty in the summer, but it's worth it for the view — high-rises lookin' you eye to eye, as cool graphics and film loops projected onto nearby structures take advantage of our building boom.

We're partial to the small dance floor, where dancers are squared off with the DJ. It's the way it should be — the relationship between DJ and dancer, facing forward, and following the heady rhythms en masse. Who needs dance floors filled with fish, or other weird distractions or eye candy confections? It's a dance floor, and we're here to dance. Last night a DJ saved your life? At Bar Smith, on the roof, it's possible.

The day that the eggheads finally invent a time machine can't get here soon enough, because we've got some major plans for that wondrous doohickey. Besides heading back to eighth grade to confront the bully whose daily thrashings stunted our self-confidence to this day, we're warping back to the 1920s to witness a bona fide vaudeville show. We've seen only pictures of the ribald and raucous variety shows that were a mix of comedy, music, dancing, and oddly freakish behavior, so we'd love the experience of seeing performers like Stan Laurel or Ethel Barrymore in their prime.

And until the day we've got our own personal flux capacitors, our butts will be firmly planted in front of the stage at The Sets whenever the hilarious and hot Lucy Morals presents Romantasy Cabaret.

Every month during the summertime, Morals serves as barker and emcee for the vaudeville-like showcase, which features shenanigans of a sexy, surreal, and side-splitting nature. One eclectic edition (titled "Opulent Dreams") boasted the snake dancing of Mother Fakir, the hilarious acoustic parody songs of Tom Tuerff, the boffo burlesque of Dolly Diamonds, and other outrageousness.

The always-madcap Stephen Strange was also in attendance, wowing the crowd by setting off fireworks strapped to his stomach.

There are a few reasons why we visit Bullock's for its karaoke. Besides offering more than 10,000 songs for us to sing along with — either on key or off — the Phoenix bar also attracts a diverse clientele that comes for karaoke action seven nights a week. It's a wide cross-section of humanity that's just as entertaining as any reality show you've seen, regardless of singing talent (or lack thereof). There are lonely barflies who croon out forlorn love songs, tattooed skinny guys bellowing nu-metal anthems by Disturbed, as well as overly enthusiastic chubby geeks energetically trying to imitate Elvis Presley (and that's just the first hour alone). Probably the most surreal sight we've seen at Bullock's was a middle-aged housewife singing Katy Perry's titillating blockbuster hit "I Kissed a Girl." Nutty. Suffice it to say, if you get bored waiting for your turn in the rotation, at least there's plenty of entertainment to be had in the people-watching.

Josh Chesler

We're free as a bird while singing along to tunes in the car or alone at home. But the word "karaoke" always makes us want to run and hide because we're too desperately insecure to croon in front of people. That's why we think the private karaoke rooms at Geisha A Go Go — one of the newest nightclubs in Scottsdale — is so ingenious, the perfect cure for our rickety self-confidence. You and up to 17 of your friends can beat the stage fright and sing your favorite Top 40 and classic rock tunes for $30 to $100 per room per hour (rates vary depending on room size and demand). And here's a tip: Go on a slower night because there's a good chance that you can score one of the rooms for free. Now that's something to sing about.

Jennifer Goldberg

What better way to start the workweek than to watch people get onstage and share their talent? Whether it's a longhaired hippie dude with a guitar doing a Simon & Garfunkel cover, a disgruntled college kid performing a spoken-word piece about the war in Iraq, or two inebriated girls just giggling at each other because they signed up on a dare, the open mic night at Yucca Tap Room offers a bit of entertainment for everyone. People can kick back and enjoy the low-pressure atmosphere while others try their hands at being performers, or they can participate instead of observe. (Everybody's got something they want to say, right?) The open mic night begins at 9 p.m.; we recommend signing up early so you hit the stage before Yucca's potent drinks kick in.

Midway games can humble one's pride. We've had our egos bruised many a time while seeking victory at impossible-to-win contests involving catapulting frogs or coins flipped at dishes. Particularly humiliating are games that require objects (be it baseballs or beanbags) flung through holes. Our throwing arm and hand-eye coordination are both weak, so we usually walk away empty-handed. But our luck is going to change this year because we've been practicing our pitching skills at R.T. O'Sullivan's weekly cornhole nights on Sundays.

For those unfamiliar with cornhole (other than as the slang word for sodomy), the game challenges players to toss small cloth bags (usually filled with ground-up corn kernels) into the hole on a rectangular ramp-like platform that sits about 20 feet away from the contestant. If your aim is true, you get three points for tossing your bag through the hole, or one point for just landing on the board.

If you're feeling up to the challenge, ask the friendly staff at this West Valley bar and grill to set up the game for you on the outdoor patio. Games consist of six "innings," during which excited players (either in singles or doubles) take turns tossing their bags.

And starting in January (i.e., when football is over), the place will feature a weekly single-elimination tournament for such prizes as free drinks or gift certificates. But whatever you do, try not to snicker when players start bragging about how good they are at cornholing.

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Uncle Monkeys

Don't tell your professor we told you, but now Mesa Community College and ASU students have an excuse to ditch class on Tuesday nights. This strip mall bar across the street from MCC and just a few miles from ASU's Tempe campus hosts competitions for the play-along, interactive guitar-shredding video game. The place is definitely a dive that's known for some roughhousing — someone was stabbed outside the joint back in January — so keep the riffing on point and the funny business to a minimum.

The latest craze among Valley bars and clubs these days isn't some overpriced fruity martini or even playing host to the hottest DJs around. Nope, it's Rock Band nights, where patrons test their mettle at the ultra-hot video game (which involves groups of three or four playing simulated instruments and singing in time to chart-busting songs like Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly" or Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive") for fun and the admiration of their fellow drunks. None of the trend-following nightspots offers the chance to perform like an actual rock star the way Sandbar does. Every Wednesday night, at the Peoria location, this beach-themed bar encourage groups to turn out dressed in their finest rock 'n' roll wear and engage in vampish, Steven Tyler-style onstage antics. Bar credit is awarded to the combo that gets the highest score each week. And if there are 30 or more bands competing during the event, the best-dressed act nabs $300 in cash. Groupies are optional, however.

Layalena reigns supreme in indulging your Middle Eastern fantasies. It's a far cry from Tempe's swath of seedy college hookah hangouts. Think belly dancing, gourmet Lebanese-inspired eats, and a sumptuous interior with brick columns and stained-glass lanterns. There's an upscale-casual dress code, which scares off most of the students, and a separate hookah lounge with full bar for guests over 21. Layalena offers nearly a dozen high-quality imported tobacco brands, including Al-Fakber, in mouthwatering flavors like pomegranate and guava. Prices range from just $3 a person to $20 for specialty blends. If you can spare the extra dough, opt for their signature blend served on fresh grapefruit. One hit of the delish citrus-flavored shisha will rock your Kasbah!

Meagan Simmons

Papago Brewing Company in Scottsdale is everything a brew pub (and your date) should be — comfortable, relaxed, and completely loaded. Beer oozes from every corner. There are beer taps decorating the lodgepole bar, beer signs on the walls, and a beer engine for cask-conditioned ales. No shit, a beer engine! The bar food's pretty decent — especially the wraps and design-your-own pizza — which is good, because you'll need something to soak up the lake of beer churning in your gut. The bar stocks a rotating selection of 30 brews on tap, including house beers like Hop Dog pale ale and El Robusto porter. Beer goggles, anyone?

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