Amsterdam

A whirlwind of change ensued inside Amsterdam over the past year, as its proprietors gave the glitzy gay and lesbian landmark a different look and a whole new groove. Its trademark marble pillars and Rodin-like naked male sculptures are still around, but most of the overstuffed couches and swanky furnishings were ditched to free up space for a larger dance floor, new DJ booth, and lighting elements. No longer considered a lounge (a role ceded to adjacent Club Miami), Amsterdam is now a full-on discothèque most nights a week, where high-energy dance music and Top 40 remixes are the norm. Muscle-bound go-go boys also frequently dance around in nothing but skivvies atop the Art Deco bar, which still serves more than 350 signature martinis and custom cocktails. The clientele also is largely LGBTQ, but an increasing number of straights have made this a weekend dancing destination, a fact that's acerbically discussed out on the smoking patio during catty conversations between regulars.

Afterlife

Despite their musclehead reputation, the doormen at local bars and clubs are pretty adroit at spotting fake IDs. In other words, members of the under-21 brigade might want to reconsider using their older siblings' faded driver's licenses to slip into some swank Scottsdale club. Instead of getting denied by beefy bouncers, or even reported to the cops, they instead head for all-ages affairs put on three nights a week at Afterlife. The liquor-free establishment offers many of the same nightlife thrills for those 18 and over as other Old Town joints (minus the alcohol, of course). If you dig dancing, scores of local DJs spin Top 40 remixes and electronica tracks in three rooms. If you're feeling competitive, arcade and casino games are available out on the patio. And for those gentlemen eager to throw their mack, go-go dancers and scantily clad ladies are in abundance during Afterlife's frequent theme parties. Even better, the place stays hopping until 4 a.m. every night it's open, which allows underage types to keep partying while the hard drinkers at most nearby bars have to call it a night.

Wild Knight

A word to the wise: Don't try to slip a $20 to the doormen outside of Wild Knight, because it won't work. Bullying is just as ineffective as bribing, because attempting to intimidate or accost them is more likely to get you in handcuffs instead of inside the club. They've got their own system of who gets to be lucky enough to party inside this exclusive Saddlebag Trail nightclub, and it usually involves selecting only the hottest or best-dressed chicas. The hulking guardians of the velvet ropes also keep out most photographers (with the exception of some select professional shutterbugs), as management prefers to keep what happens inside on the down-low. It's also why there aren't any windows, save for the opaque panels on the doors of the tiny outdoor patio. It helps add to the clandestine aura of the place, which has also developed a reputation for being one of the biggest hotspots for electronica in the Valley, thanks to the array of EDM superstars who have performed here, like Rebecca and Fiona, The Bingo Players, and Zedd. Skrillex reportedly induced a major riot at an after-party held in his honor last year at the club when the entire crowd lost their shit during his stint on the mixers. It was definitely a wild evening at Wild Knight.

Yucca Tap Room
Lauren Cusimano

It's been an important year for the cats behind The Blunt Club. At the beginning of the summer, they celebrated the 10th birthday of the long-running Thursday night affair, marking a full decade of bringing hip-hop music and culture to the masses. The party served as both a major milestone and a major rager, taking place over the course of two nights at both Tempe's Yucca Tap Room and Hollywood Alley in Mesa. It also marked the brief return of Organic, who pulled a Prodigal Son and temporarily resumed his role as one of the night's resident DJs for a few weeks alongside Pickster One. They also added a few new painters (such as Loopy and Ray Rivas) into the potent weekly mix of fly artwork, b-boy dancing, turntable artistry, and funky grooves, which is accentuated by the diverse array of touring underground rappers and hip-hop artists who stop by for guest performances almost every Thump Day. The Bluntsters show no signs of slowing down, and — in all likelihood — have enough swagger and skills to go for another 10 years or more.

Hate to break it to you, club kiddies, but Skrillex didn't invent dubstep. While the cutesy-pie electronica producer helped light the match that caused the bass-heavy genre to explode in popularity in the past couple of years, dubstep's been around for more than a decade now. Just ask the cats behind long-running club night UK Thursdays, who were blasting bass long before Skrillex launched into the limelight. Since its debut in 2009, the weekly dance party has showcased a wide variety of dubstep artists from throughout the Valley and around the globe, each of whom offers a different take on the diverse British-born genre. In addition to the sort of brutal grinds and killer drops typified by the "brostep" generated by Skrillex and his ilk, the event has featured the more ambient flavors of dubstep, as well as such closely related variants as drum 'n' bass and UK garage. Locals like Sluggo, J. Paul, and ill-legal have been featured, as have such influential heavy hitters as 12th Planet, Rusko, 16-Bit, and BBC One's Mary Anne Hobbs. Pounding the walls of School of Rock with sub-harmonic thrum every Thursday, the night has helped give new meaning to the term "Thump Day."

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.

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