Best Dance Floor 2009 | Norton's Country Corner | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix

Though we understand the place lost some of its atmosphere in the move from Gilbert Road and Chandler Boulevard to the center of Queen Creek, and though they don't always have a band on both weekend nights, we still love the natty little dance floor at Norton's Country Corner. This humble little roadhouse traces its lineage back to 1918 and was once a major stop on the Arizona honky-tonk circuit. These days, though, it sticks to cover bands. But if you're looking for someplace to shuffle around in your Tony Lamas while a pedal-steel whines out "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down," this is it.

Not that anything could really replace Glam. With Faux Show Friday Nights and Word Up! Saturdays, the unsuspecting club in a forgettable strip mall in Phoenix — which, sadly, closed a while back — exploded every weekend. It was our nightlife diamond in the rough. Its Saturday Night Fever light-up dance floor and one-stall stinky bathroom will forever hold a place in our scummy hearts. But we've found a club night that has all the flavor of Glam — with the disgusting bathrooms to boot. Party Foul! Fridays at Homme Lounge will fill that void. The cozy dance floor may not light up, but with a million blinking beams and strobe lights, the walls and low ceilings certainly do, making you feel as if you actually stepped inside a disco ball, rather than danced under it. The nights we spent there, packed like sardines in a virtual group grind, are nights we'll reminisce about when we're settled and boring with kids. With spins by the resident DJs Craig Citizen (of Faux Show fame), Kevin M.O.B. (of Word Up! Saturdays), Bigie Epidemic and BC/AD (not to mention a weekly roster that also includes a hot list of guest DJs) the sounds are mixed and fresh. While "mixed" and "fresh" will never be words used to describe the air quality inside the club, you can find "relief" on the enclosed smoking patio. It's all in the spirit of partying, right? And it's certainly in the spirit of Glam.

If you subscribe to the theory that alcohol makes you more attractive, a wittier conversationalist, or even a fearless pugilist, then you likely believe a few beers can transform you into a championship billiards player or an ace rifleman. Put your theory to the test at this West Valley watering hole, where a large variety of bar games and drunken distractions abound. Try putting away some pints of Fat Tire and see if you can channel the spirit of Minnesota Fats while shooting stick on one of Marc's five pool tables. Or see if you're as big a card shark as Jerry Yang or Peter Eastgate during the weekly Texas hold'em night on Wednesday (when all domestics and call drinks are $1 off). If you feel like firing off a few rounds after downing a round or two of $4 Washington apple or Red-Headed Slut shots on Tuesdays, amble on over to the Big Buck Hunter arcade game and blast some virtual does and deers with your plastic rifle. There's also NTN trivia and free ping-pong daily, while the adjacent MarcTini Lounge hosts karaoke every night. Drink up, big shooter, there's plenty of fun and games to be had at Marc's.

Stationed less than a block's walk from both US Airways Center and Chase Field, Coach & Willie's is so close to the big-league fun that you can practically smell the locker-room funk. Sports nuts, clad in their snazziest team shop gear, usually make pit stops here either before the game (carbo-loading on moderately priced upscale comfort grub) or afterwards to partake in a snifter or two. When the squads are on the road, the Suns and D-Backs faithful lounge on the gorgeous patio (complete with bubbling waterfall) or congregate at the horseshoe-shaped bar to holler at the bums on TV and provide their own personal play-by-play. These barstool quarterbacks might even get the chance to spit their vitriol at a particular superstar athlete face-to-face (if they've got the sack, that is), as Steve Nash, Shaquille O'Neal, and several other ballplayers and coaching staffers have stopped by now and again for a bite.

The moniker of this CenPho player's paradise is as dead-on as a Dan Haren fastball, considering it ranks far above any other sports bar in the vicinity. It boasts a relaxed, low-key feel and homey décor that could double as some suburbanite's den (albeit one with more hi-def TVs than a Best Buy store, a swank pool table, a long-ass shuffleboard game, and 16 imports and domestics on tap). Hometown heroes are big (evidenced by the logos of Arizona's various college and pro squads covering the wall tiles in the bathrooms), but all manner of ballgames are broadcast here, from rugby to soccer. But if you can't find any up-to-the-minute highlights of your favorite team, try logging onto the Interweb via the bar's free Wi-Fi access. Suffice it to say, there's no shortage of sports at Hazelwood's.

It's a safe bet that Phoenix sports fans probably need a drink or two (no, make that several . . . dozen) to help forget all those underwhelming performances by multimillion-dollar buffoo . .  . er, athletes during 2009. Aside from the Arizona Cardinals' miraculous berth in the Super Bowl, it hasn't exactly been a banner year for our city's sports squads. Steve Nash and the rest of the Phoenix Suns crashed and burned (thus missing what would have been their first playoffs since 2005), the cellar-dwelling Diamondbacks just wrapped up one of their most vile seasons ever, and don't even get us started on that whole Coyotes debacle. The good news is that the Lighthouse's barkeeps can pour 'em long and strong, regardless of which mind eraser you'd prefer, whether it's a Long Island iced tea, Red Bull vodka, or any other $4 well drink. Their $3 shot specials and $4.25 pitchers of Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, other domestic drafts can also help scramble memories of Eric Byrnes' tantrums or Shaquille O'Neal's entire tenure with the suns. Drink up, hard drinkers, and remember that eternal mantra about how there's always next year.

Having opened way back in 1979, Max's is definitely old school, just like us. We've got golden memories of watching some of Phoenix's biggest ballgames from within the darkened confines of this West Valley sports institution. (Like when our voice went hoarse cheering on Sir Charles and the Phoenix Suns as they beat the dreaded Chicago Bulls in triple overtime during game three of the 1993 NBA Finals.) Sure, a host of bigger and flashier jock joints, like McDuffy's and Marc's Sports Grill, have sprung up nearby over the past three decades. We consider Max's the antithesis of those jacked-up, high-adrenaline establishments. At Max's, you can stay abreast of the latest sports action on almost 100 TVs, check out the collection of more than 250 football helmets on display, or head over to the off-track betting area to make a wager. It beats having some tatted-up, Ed Hardy-clad bro yelling in your ear while the game's on.

There's a lot to like about Teakwood's Tavern and Grill in Gilbert — great food, plentiful TVs, friendly staff — but we have to admit what we like best about it, sports bar-wise, is the way they allow you to re-create the experience of being at the game by tossing your peanut shells on the floor. That's right, even though this is a pretty nice place — not some juke joint on the outskirts of town — you're welcome to crack, eat, and discard. On the downside, anyone with a severe peanut allergy could probably die just driving by this place, but on the plus side, it's as close to Chase Field as you can get in the flatlands of the San Tan area.

We know what you're thinking: How could we not name Sluggo's the best Mesa sports bar? Well, we are (sorta) because the legendary Sluggo's is now Diamond's Sports Grille. The bar was opened by former Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray and his partner in the booth, Steve Stone, and it's gone through a few names en route to its current one. The ties to the Cubs, who are immortalized in murals on the walls of this bar near the Cubs' spring training site north of downtown Mesa, are still strong, though. We hope they get a less generic name paying tribute to the spot's history — "Holy Cow's," maybe, or "Something Funny Will Farrell Said in That SNL Sketch" — but even if it that never happens, Diamond's is still the best sports bar in Mesa.

Tempe probably has five of the 10 best sports bars in the Valley, so picking just one spot is a challenge. Luckily, Doc & Eddy's has a little bit of everything, making it easy to justify our choice here. It's just dive-y enough to feel homey, but with clean and plentiful restrooms, varied seating options, good service, and great food. It always seems to be just busy enough — never dead or overcrowded — and we enjoy the fact that the pool hall and game area doesn't feel segregated from the rest of the restaurant, making it a fun place to hang out with a big group of rowdy fans, some who prefer to take in the game while shooting some pool.

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