Low Key Piano Bar
To get to The Big Bang, you literally have to go underground — there's a flight of stairs next to the entrance, leading to what's essentially a basement. The space used to house blues joint BeLo's, and the exposed brick and industrial piping on the ceiling adds to the "speakeasy" feel of the place. Patrons can sit at a table and drink booze from the bar while taking in some great live music, courtesy of the Bang's "dueling pianos." The entertainers here — who include pianist/singer Julie Martinez (who played at the first Big Bang club in Missouri when it opened in 2001) and Ben Murphy (who studied piano at Indiana University) — are immensely talented, able to play off each other, interact with the audience, and fulfill requests, no matter how bizarre. Whether it's a rockin' rendition of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," a lounge version of "Gin & Juice" by Snoop Dogg, or even the one song they're really tired of playing (Billy Joel's "Piano Man"), the performers at The Big Bang never cease to entertain.
Underground
Located below the larger Nile Theater venue, The Underground harks back to those underage days, when the best shows you saw were hosted in someone's basement. The Underground is quite literally a basement — you can see utility beams and pipes on the ceiling, and there are mounds of crumbling dirt and drywall in the corners of the room, where dampness and decay has taken its toll (you won't find such moldy charm above ground). But aside from its basement aesthetic, The Underground has some great acoustics (not counting the occasional sonic bleed-through of whatever show's going on upstairs in the Nile). There's enough space for about 75 people to fit comfortably, but because the venue's a basement, it can get really stuffy and hot when it's packed. The only downside for would-be concertgoers at The Underground is there's no elevator. So if someone's physically unable to climb up and down the stairs, the best they can get is to listen to the show from the lobby or from the top of the stairs.
The Arizona Society of Homebrewers is one of the biggest home-brewing clubs in the entire country. Attending one of the society's monthly meetings means rubbing shoulders with some of Arizona's home-brewing greats. Want to discuss the effect of noble hops on your American-style pale ale? Need some advice on getting a mead off the ground? Hoping to learn more about what types of beer pair best with goat cheese? Welcome home, you brew-swilling beer snob. In addition to the meetings, ASH holds an annual beer festival called "Spring Fest," which is absolutely not to be missed.
For years, people tried to keep The Black and Tan a secret, closely guarding its location, despite the fact that a Google search for "Black and Tan Phoenix" neatly pulls up an address and phone number. That's because The Black and Tan actually is a legitimate recording studio and rehearsal space. But that's not what this building in an industrial area of west Phoenix is known for. It's known for being the Valley's only true speakeasy. The Black and Tan has played host to some of the wildest private parties and underground music shows in the city, from national acts like Slick Idiot (which includes members of KMFDM) to local noisemakers like industrial duo Mess & Phetamine. The building's got plenty of room to house a stage and a bar, which it has done regularly for the past several years. On some event nights, people in the know can just show up with money and get in, but in an attempt to keep the place exclusive, a lot of the more recent events require a special ticket or password to get in.
Hanny's
Lauren Cusimano
Stop into Hanny's on a weekend night in downtown Phoenix, and you'll see why there's no one on the street. The swanky bar and restaurant is a great place to spot who's who in the downtown scene, and an even better place to do some exploring. The building was designed by local architects Ryal Lescher and Leslie Mahoney and opened as Hanny's department store in 1947 (you don't even have to squint to see the original signage above the bar and on one of the outside walls). But more interesting than the dressing rooms turned bathrooms on the second floor, the hidden bar area from which you can spy on first-floor guests, and the empty elevator shafts is the basement. The space is an empty shell of what once was — the shoe counter still stands near the elevator, dusty and forgotten. The staircase is blocked off with a chain-link fence. Sneak past the Hanny's employees down the staircase and behind the dressed mannequin by local artist Janis Leonard (below the DJ booth) and you'll see what may one day be one of the coolest underground spots in Phoenix. Just don't tell them we sent you.

Best Place to Find an Underground Dance Party

Stratus

Stratus
It's a good thing that the fabrication facilities and other blue-collar businesses surrounding Stratus close up shop after the sun goes down, since there's no one around to file a noise complaint when the West Valley venue gets wild on weekend nights. And believe us, we're talking wild. A colorful cornucopia of costumed kids and vibrantly dressed electronic music fans slide into Stratus almost every Friday or Saturday to partake in a melodic maelstrom of bright lights and big beats. Hit up the info lines for any of the handful the underground raves and word-of-mouth dance parties that transpire into the wee hours each weekend and you're likely to get directions to Stratus. It's popular among local promoters because of its location in the middle of an industrial neighborhood, as well as the posh amenities located within. While its plain-looking exterior resembles the workmanlike façades of neighboring businesses, the interior boasts high-definition video screens, two VIP lounges, a pimp Dynacord sound system, and various laser light displays. There's also a fully stocked bar slinging drinks to those patrons who are of age (and have proper ID), but you usually have to wade through a sea of glowstick-wielding teenagers to get there.
Spanish Fly
As any Phoenician who's had his brains melted and skin seared by the sun can ascribe, it's hot here for a majority of the year. Damn hot. Hence the number of swimming holes around these parts, particularly in Scottsdale. There are pools aplenty in the stylish suburb, even in the unlikeliest of places. Like, say, smack dab in the middle of Old Town nightspot Spanish Fly, which features an oasis-like swimming pool encompassing most of the outdoor patio. Where other Scottsdale beach bars boast paltry wading pools, Spanish Fly — formerly the home of upscale Polynesia place Drift — trumps 'em all. The proprietors exchanged tiki shtick for chic couches, posh cabanas, and a glimmering waterfall. As its name portends, the joint also serves Mexican-style nosh, but be sure to wait an hour after eating before taking a dip.
Lobby Bar at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa
After the architects and designers of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale designed the swim-up bar located in one of the ritzy resort's many posh pools, we sincerely hope they got a hearty pat on the back for genius thinking. Why? Because the ability to have a drink while swimming around in the drink is one of the greatest ideas ever. What better way to imbibe than with the scantily dressed and dripping wet? Patrons of the resort (or anyone crafty enough to sneak in) can toss back a few adult beverages and handcrafted cocktails at the swim-up bar tucked away far from the kiddy-laden beach area without a care in the world. It almost makes the steep drink prices ($5 for a Pacifico?!) worth it.
W Hotel Scottsdale
Posh doesn't even begin to describe the indoor/outdoor lounges located next to the W Scottsdale's second-floor WET Deck, which features lavish brown and white couches, Mediterranean-inspired décor, and a fully stocked bar armed with a classy staff tending to whatever boozy need may arise. Waterfalls are located throughout the place, rippling water at just the right volume for conversation among well-heeled types. Across the pool from Shade Lounge is the W's Sunset Beach, consisting of a white-sand landscape occupied by cabanas and daybeds, as well as color-changing lights and blazing fire pits encased in onyx marble. Good luck trying to sneak in, as the doormen at the W are particularly vigilant when it comes to stopping freeloaders.
The Phoenician, Scottsdale
Sitting on the patio of The Thirsty Camel Lounge at day's end with a frosty cocktail in hand is a nice reminder of why we live here; even on the hottest days, we've got some of the prettiest sunsets around, and the classy terrace offers a gorgeous vantage point from which to watch as that ball of heat fades away and darkness overtakes views of the Papago Hills and South Mountain. Located in the swanky Phoenician, the Thirsty Camel has all the right liquors and, better yet, an unparalleled chance to view one thing our desert state does better than any other.

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