Best Dance Floor 2012 | Axis-Radius | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix

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.

Influential Philadelphia-via-L.A. record label and blog Mad Descent, which is run by electro wizard Diplo, is something of a tastemaker in the music world that regularly sniffs out next-level shizzle to pimp to its fans. So when it started extolling the virtues of the moombahton mixes created by local DJ/producer team Jorge Melo and Dusty Hickman in 2011, not to mention booking them at a few club nights across the country, it was sort of a big deal. It was just one of many coups the pair have pulled off since they started dabbling with moombahton, the dembow-filled EDM subgenre (a popular hybrid of Dutch house and reggaeton created by Washington, D.C., selecta Dave Nada) three years ago. Melo and Hickman (a.k.a. Pickster One) were some of the earliest adopters of moombah both in Arizona and around the nation and earned plenty of attention with their first collaboration "Mas Poderoso," which scored spots on a few choice moombahton mixtapes. Last year, the two organized the epic Arizonaton compilation featuring seventeen tracks crafted by various local beat-jugglers. Moombah-heads worldwide dug it, and even Nada himself gave the project a thumbs up. Thankfully, Melo and Hickman aren't letting all this mad love go to their heads.

One of the most memorable moments from the most recent season of IFC sketch comedy satire Portlandia was a hilarious vignette in which it seemed literally everyone and his mother (including Carrie Brownstein's onscreen mother) was becoming a DJ. What's even funnier is the fact that it's totally true-to-life, as embryonic mixer monkeys and knob-twisters are springing up everywhere, including here the Valley. Unfortunately, a brand new MacBook and a pirated copy of Serato Scratch Live does not a DJ make. Actual talent is necessary, son, not to mention voluminous knowledge of a chosen genre, many years honing your craft, and learning the true fundamentals of turntablism, like maybe how to mix and scratch some actual records. In other words, you'll wanna follow the same path as Logan Howard. For more than a decade, the 30-something mixmaster known as Element has been considered one of the best hip-hop selectas in the PHX, if not the entire Southwest. A hardcore crate-digger at heart, Howard grew up devouring his family's diverse vinyl collection and started working a pair of record decks at house parties during high school. In the years since, he's become a walking encyclopedia of hip-hop culture and turntable wizardry, not to mention a longtime favorite the Valley's DJ scene. When's he not unleashing a sick scratch-fest or spinning old-school jams at joints around the Valley, Howard can be found hunting in local record stores for his latest finds or gigging in cities around the world (including Europe and Asia). Hell, he's even big in Japan.

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Ben Andersen and Eric Hoss have been full-on BFFs for the past four years, ever since meeting at a local club night in 2008 and bonding over a shared love of Photek and other deep-house artists. And the partnership that's developed between these bromantic DJs has resulted in some epic indie, electro, and dance-music mixes that have gotten a major reaction at hipster club nights throughout Phoenix and in the bedrooms of EDM bloggers around the globe. Collectively known as TABS, the pair create their tracks via cyberspace (since Anderson lives in Tucson and Hoss resides in Tempe), taking awesome tracks from such chart-topping EDM producers as Porter Robinson or Marco Carpentieri and making 'em even swankier. Both partners add in bold grooves, amp up the energy into the stratosphere, and drop in serious dollops of bass. TABS are equally adept at reinventing and reformatting indie pop hits from local acts like Peachcake and nationally known bands like Gossip, infusing each song with main room house and stylish remixing tricks. "They have an earnest capability to take a song from one place and bring it to another," says Peachcake frontman Stefan Pruett. "And ultimately, whichever direction they choose to take it, you'll end up liking it."

Alex Votichenko doesn't just collect records — he stockpiles them. When local filmmaker and blogger Gregory Harshfield interviewed the turntablist (who's better known by his nom de guerre Djentrification) for the online documentary Vinyl: A Phoenix Story, viewers got a glimpse inside Votichenko's Central Phoenix home, where an entire room is lined from floor to ceiling with haphazardly stacked milk crates and mismatched bookshelves overflowing with thousands of records. Thing is, that was only a small part of his entire collection. By his estimate, Votichenko (who also works as an artist and sells vegan burritos) has amassed an arsenal of thousands more, all of which serve as potential ammunition for his unforgettable and ultra-eccentric sets at nights like 602'sdays at Bikini Lounge.

During said affairs, he'll constantly cut and blend such disparate sounds as Latin beats, gospel sounds, children's music, and drops from vintage spoken-word albums into a bizarre bazaar of audio. To fuel such schizophrenic sessions with fresh grist for his turntables, Votichenko haunts Valley vinyl emporiums like Stinkweeds, Revolver Records, and Tracks in Wax. Crate-digging is an art form as much as it is an exercise in persistence, which he has in spades. He'll exhaustively thumb through bin after bin during twice-weekly excavations in search of obscura, rarities, and gems. Cash, on the other hand, is a different matter. During one funny moment in Harshfield's doc, Votichenko jokes, "I'm giving them all my burrito money."

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