Yucca Tap Room
Lauren Cusimano

DJ Dana Armstrong and her Valley Fever crew are stuck in the past, when country music didn't mean Toby Keith and Taylor Swift. That stuff's fine if you're looking for a little pop pleasure, but if you're looking for the hard stuff — the Waylons and Willies — Valley Fever (every Sunday night) at the Yucca is the only night for you. In addition to hosting live retro-country acts (both of the touring and local variety), Armstrong and her pal DJ Johnny Volume (who knows his way around the dusty "country section" of the record store as well as he does the punk 45s) spin classic outlaw stuff, the kind of gritty, pedal-steel whining music you won't hear on KMLE or at city slicker Scottsdale spots.

Sanctum

The gorgeously gauche atmosphere of Sanctum is often a prowling ground for curiously dressed creatures of the night, whether it's the grotesque goths who come for Tranzylvania or the tattooed-and-pierced freaks who frequent Doom Disco. Wednesdays, however, are the domain of the industrial-music rivetheads, who put on their big boots, leather pants, and quasi-military gear before stomping over to Sanctum to get their ears assaulted at :Fallout.Shelter:. Crimson-haired femme fatale Defense.Mekanizm and punky partner Self.Destrukt serve as audio taskmasters, dispensing driving industrial dance hits from the elevated DJ booth. Besides the relentless grind of Front 242, the gloom of Velvet Acid Christ, or the harsh onslaught of Front Line Assembly, the pair are known to rain down plenty of EBM and some dark electro.

FilmBar

Local selector DJentrification doesn't do things the easy way; while plenty of DJs are content to cue up the laptop, press play, and then start hitting on girls in the audience, DJent is a strictly vinyl kind of guy, meaning his sprawling sets are filled with the kind of music you can't snag easily from the iTunes store. His weekly party at FilmBar, "The Palace," follows the same set of no-rules rules. Mixing Thai, Turk, Khmer, Latin, Indian, and more, Djentrification has the most unique dance night in Valley music, and guest spinners like DJ Smite, Daniel Chiazza, and El Nico keep things significantly fresh, strange, off-kilter, and always funky.

Bar Smith

The word hipster has taken a pretty heavy beating in recent years, becoming the buzz word for someone looking to talk smack about the kind of erudite, nattily dressed young people packing clubs like Bar Smith. But the reigning mixers at Sticky Fingers, William Fucking Reed, Prince$$, 2 Tone Disco, and more aren't about to let that stop them from appealing to, well, hipsters. Bringing in guest selectors like Andy Rourke of The Smiths, the members of VHS or Beta, and Poolside, Reed and his band of miscreants keep things excruciatingly hip. Make fun of the pants or the shoes or the hats (okay, really, make fun of the hats), but just remember: While you're complaining about the cool kids, the cool kids are dancing without you.

Axis/Radius

Wanna shake a tail feather or show off your skills as a dance diva? This Scottsdale institution features two distinct clubs in one stylish package, each rocking its own unique vibe and musical styles. Axis is the domain of Top 40 and R&B hits, where music videos are projected onto a giant screen overhead and dancing is done on a long catwalk-like runway and stage. Dope moves like the Dougie also are unleashed anywhere else that people can find space within the often crowded milieu, including the stairs leading up to the VIP section or out on the patio. Over at Radius, however, the much larger dance floor is alive with a maelstrom of activity as DJs drop house and electro remixes, go-go dancers bump and grind their barely clothed torsos on elevated platforms, and pneumatic jets fire streams of carbon dioxide from the ceiling. Here's hoping you slapped on some extra body spray beforehand, as the tempestuous movement of hot bods often results in a sweaty situation.

Ostensibly, the emergency lights adorning the Phoenix Police Department's fleet of patrol vehicles were designed to alert motorists to danger or force them to pull over. On a chilly night in early January, however, these red and blue flashing devices were used for a purpose that was entirely more fun. Namely, serving as multicolored strobe lights that illuminated countless revelers engaged in a major rager throughout downtown. It was all part of the Phoenix edition of the Decentralized Dance Party, a touring event that has staged massively madcap mobile fiestas in cities across North America since 2010. Organized by Vancouver-based party promoters Gary Lachance and Tom Kuzma, the event — which essentially is a chaotic costumed rave crossbred with a flash mob and spontaneous street party — made its Valley debut and brought out hundreds eager to shake a tailfeather. Participants, many of whom sported wacky attire, clutched boomboxes blasting a soundtrack of party rock anthems broadcast from a mobile FM transmitter worn by Lachance. Officers from Phoenix P.D. were hired to escort the throng, which slowly moved from the Arizona Science Center to Civic Space Park. It was big-time fun for those in attendance, to say the least. Heck, we even saw members of Phoenix's finest crack a smile or bob their heads to such songs as the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right."

A word of warning: The house music laid down by Thomas Turner and Timothy Heit isn't necessarily for everyone. Like, if you're a typically ADD-ridden club kid who impatiently expects the DJ to bump a new song into the mix every minute, that just ain't Turner and Heit's bag. Instead, they craft epic and sophisticated soundscapes by expertly blending together just the right amount of house, electro, and trance tracks with mixing wizardry and beat-matching prowess. Separately, each has an area of expertise: Heit's a major gearhead who handles all the equipment and technical aspects of the partnership. Meanwhile, Turner's a dialed-in cat who promotes EDM events under the Relentless Beats banner and constantly gets the duo fresh material to use via his connections with a wealth of artists, producers, and DJs throughout the world. Together, Turner and Heit's tracks and mixes have gained them some serious respect from some of the biggest DJs in the business, including John Digweed, Sander Kleinenberg, and Ferry Corsten.

Sean Watson has an immense following among young-and-hip circles because of his innate skills as a party instigator and near-infallible taste in music. Plus, his weekly sets at such fashionable spots as Crescent Ballroom typically are packed with the PBR brigade, and he's an occasional performer at Quincy Ross' secretive see-and-be-seen soirees. Ask the burly and bearded DJ about his revered status in the scene, however, and the ever-affable Watson will shrug it off with one of his trademark belly laughs. "I'm a hipster icon?" he says. "I thought I was toothless, fat, Irish guy who sweats a lot." That pretty much sums up Watson to a T, concerned more with having a good time during his gigs than with labels. He's practically a one-man party behind the decks, bouncing his brawny frame around while unapologetically playing whatever tracks suit him, whether its indie song chanteuses like Grimes, old '90s joints from Stereolab, high-energy club bangers by Swedish House Mafia, or such guilty pleasures as Madeon or Gigamesh. "My philosophy is to just play whatever I like and hope that everyone goes along with it," he says. Based on all the fist-pumping and excited dancing going on in the crowd, that's most assuredly the case.

With the sound of witch house infecting adventurous indie and EDM listeners, it's a good time to be a goth DJ. Not that DJ Noiz.fkr is a Johnny-come-lately. Noiz.fkr (real name: Rob Poe) long has been spinning EBM (electronic body music), industrial, synthpop, and New Wave (all with a dark bent) at clubs like Sanctum, various fetish balls, and the dearly departed club night Tranzylvania at Palazzo. As EDM explodes in popularity, it makes sense that dancers will start seeking more extreme forms of sound, and Noiz.fkr's unique mixes — tuneful but booming — are exactly what the doctor ordered, the kind of sounds that work on the dance floor, no matter how shadowy the venue.

Believe it or not, it turns out that God loves dubstep. Or at least that's the humorous opinion of Jared Paul Jackson, better known by his DJ moniker J-Paul. Born to a devoutly Mormon family in Salt Lake City, the local EDM artist is certain that the Heavenly Father is a major fan of the unrelenting bass-heavy music that the 32-year-old creates. "I honestly believe that God and every other deity out there is a huge fan of dubstep," he says, laughing. Although his opinion might seem far-fetched, it also might explain why Jackson's been blessed with substantial DJ/producing skills, which allow him to conjure some of the most brutal dubstep soundscapes heard at Valley dance clubs. He specializes in transposing kinky beats and warbling vocals with the glitchy grinds and murderous drops that are the hallmark of the genre. The music tends to melt faces and assault eardrums, especially the tracks created with his Las Vegas-based partner OB-One, via their collective project HavocNdeeD. Together, the duo has performed in clubs throughout North America, had their face-melting tracks downloaded around the world, and have appeared on a few big-time compilations. We're sure the notorious G.O.D. would approve.

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