Best Place to Find a Rave 2008 | AzEDM | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix

Old-school ravers around here love reminiscing about the good ol' days of the Valley's underground dance party scene. Back in the early- to mid-'90s, they ramble, Phoenix was rife with non-stop illegal and illicit all-night dance affairs, boasting big-time DJs, massive cuddle puddles, abundant X, and tons of "P.L.U.R." (as in, "peace, love, unity, and respect"). After waxing poetic, they usually start dissing on the rave scene, claiming it ain't as vibrant as those days of glory.

Sorry to be a buzzkill, bro, but the local scene is thriving quite well, as evidenced by the large number of raves being pimped on the Web site AzEDM (short for Arizona electronic dance music). Promoters and DJ collectives like ClixBagofTrix, Silent Unspoken, and Nightowl Entertainment have fliers posted for more than a dozen upcoming raves and parties spread out across P-town, whether it's some shindig in a vacant warehouse in south Phoenix or out in the desert somewhere. Locations are typically kept secret until the night of the affair (so as to keep the cops at bay), but bring some bail money as well as your glowsticks, in case things are compromised.

DJ William Fucking Reed has a knack for bringing sexy back while simultaneously bringing breaking national acts to the party. His weekly dance night, Shake!, has been going strong since 2005, thanks largely to the litany of luminaries Reed finds to spin tunes. Guest DJs have included JD Samson of Le Tigre, Marky Ramone, Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols, Jimmy of Louis XIV, Sami Yaffa of New York Dolls, and Brace Paine of The Gossip. He's also managed to get celebs like Dave Navarro and Tommy Lee to come in for VIP treatment, and arranged for Shake! to be the official after-party for touring acts like The Kills and Editors.

In addition to Reed's own mash-up of electro/hyphy/punk, fellow resident DJs Funkfinger and Ashley Nicole provide plenty of bumping beats for booty shaking. With such high-profile guests and a music menu that includes the hottest new indie-dance rock, Shake! should continue to cause a stir for some time to come.

Best Place to Party on a Yacht Without Getting Seasick

Yacht Rock Sundays

Sail away to the calming sounds of Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, and more whenever your captain of smooth, DJ mig50, plays yacht-rock classics at the Ruby Room. The event emcee spins those heavy-on-the-cheese hits by Boz Scaggs, Hall & Oates, and the Doobie Brothers on good ol' fashioned vinyl. You may not actually be coasting on a boat in the water, but with $2.50 Sea Breeze cocktails all night long, you can definitely feel a little sway if you like. Just don't rock the quasi-boat.

In the climax of the '80s flick Urban Cowboy, a duded-up John Travolta managed to hang onto a bucking mechanical bull for almost 30 seconds. Man, if only we coulda lasted that long. We were attempting to replicate the actor's feat on the faux toro at one of the Valley's two Saddle Ranch Chop Houses recently but came up a little short. Like, about 27 seconds short. Although both our pride and our rear ends were bruised, it was still major fun. Thankfully, we weren't the only ones getting bucked off the raging mechanical bull within moments (average ride time = six seconds) that night.

The ride's a popular attraction at both locations of the cowboy-themed restaurant and nightclub. Dozens of patrons line up around the ride's padded corral nightly to give it a go at $3 a pop, holding on with one hand as the ride's operator bucks them around for dear life. If they've got skills to survive, a weekly bull-riding competition on Monday nights offers a cash prize. But if they're washouts like us, souvenir pictures of the experience are available for only $8.99. It'll serve as a reminder of the ride, long after the bruises have faded.

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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