Best Monthly Dance Night 2014 | Tongue Tied, First Saturdays at Apollo's Lounge | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix

Tongue Tied promoter Michele Roya Chinichian says she is a "big goofball at heart" with a soft spot for anything corny. And that's readily apparent at the monthly "crazy fun" dance parties she throws every first Saturday at Apollo's with DJ Funkfinger. To wit: Playthings like lightsabers, a stuffed unicorn, and superhero masks are the norm, cinematic cheese like Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo is on every TV, and Ace of Base and Montell Jordan pepper the indie-heavy playlist. There's a different theme each month (one party lampooned the Olympics while another was inspired by the Technicolor world of Lisa Frank) and free Otter Pops, to boot. Plus, writhing alongside the DJ booth is the neon spandex-clad spazzoid and resident interpretive dancer The Dave Driscoll Dance Machine. It all adds up to one of the most memorable club nights around, one that's more dippy fun than hipster irony. "Tongue Tied's more about having fun than being cool, which I think is lacking at a lot of hipster parties," Chinichian says. Well, that, and a dude in an electric pink bodysuit thrusting his crotch at you.

Okay, so maybe when you hear the name "Monarch Theatre," spelled with the very regal-looking "-re" instead of the pedestrian "-er," you think of a grand, historic venue. While Monarch Theatre has history, a stiff, traditional theater it is not. Rather, it's downtown Phoenix's best and most happening dance floor on any given weekend, featuring everything from touring electronic dance music producers to fashion shows. The dance floor is central to the experience here, and the warehouse-like feel to the room invokes a rave-type dance mania, making you feel so anonymous that you have no fear cutting loose to whatever music happens to be playing that night. Occasionally, it'll open its spooky basement and put on events down there, like the infamous Fight Club Sadisco*, which saw the already eerie underground adorned with stark, spray-painted cardboard bearing intimidating phrases from the movie. Whatever the event, the Monarch Theatre is just classy enough to make you want to dress up, while mysterious and exciting enough to make you want to get down.


When it comes to saying which stereotype can shake it more, we tango back and forth between the gay and Latin communities. Conveniently enough, however, there's one place in town where these two troops turn the dance floor into a tour de force. Karamba Night Club in Phoenix is a cultural fusion of fabulous, fast-paced flamenco and Latin sounds, featuring drinking and dancing specials throughout the week, including Salsa Tuesdays and Top 40 Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On any given night inside this colorful club, LGBT locals party to the beat of Latin pop and pulsating lights while they pick up cocktails and dance partners at either one of the club's full bars or generous patio. Novice high-heel wearers, beware: Your fancy feet may not be able to keep up with all this Latin flair.

Matt Hennie

Trust the well-toned, denim-clad cowboys behind the rustic bar at Charlie's — there are more than a handful of reasons to get there early and stay late. Beyond afternoon volleyball, evening dance classes and nightly drink specials, this downtown staple is home to regular entertainment from a cast of characters, after-hours parties and drink specials including "undie Mondays" and "half off with your pants off." Drink to your line-dancing heart's desire and soak it up with a plate of tacos and quesadillas from the regular taco truck, Taqueria Los Yaquis (with a very convenient service window into Charlie's back patio). You'll thank the cowboys in the morning.

Prepare to see and be seen when you walk through the unassuming doors of what regulars call "The Cash," a longtime favorite of local gays and lesbians. At the Western-themed bar, line dancing, dart-throwing, pool-shooting, and karaoke-ing are queen — and can all be the center of attention from the barstools that line the dimly lit bar and dance floor. The Cash is home to regular (and free!) dance lessons and an eclectic playlist, which make for an entertaining view.

Mountain views and resort bars go together like gin and tonic, but BLT Steak is more than just a pretty face. Classy digs and a comfy lounge area make you feel right at home — you know, if your home were a pricey resort. Add to that those cheesy, warm, and gooey popovers, some herbaceous escargot, and bright, citrusy hamachi and you have some fancy eats to match the atmosphere. Local and national craft brews on draft are available, but chances are you won't be able to pass up cocktail creations like the fig-infused Old Fashioned, apricot pie sidecar, or the mango Moscow Mule. For those looking for a romantic spot that's sure to woo, BLT Steak is the place.

Benjamin Leatherman

Nestled among the carnicerías and bodegas of 16th Street, the Royale Lounge is a dive in the classic sense of the word. Low lit and adorned by the humming red neon of its classy sign, the Royale is big on cheap drinks and low on pretension. Eighty-something bartender "Miss Lil" knows the regulars, and she's so sweet you'll feel like one in no time. Hip bars love to aim for the dive bar feel, but there are some things that can't be faked, and the lowdown warmth of the Royale Lounge is as real as it gets.

When we get to missing Jolly Old England, we head over to Rose & Crown, where we can tip back one (or two!) of 50 local and imported beers. Belhaven Scottish Ale, anyone? How about an Old Speckled Hen? The Ploughman's Plate — an assortment of cheese, crackers, seasonal fruit, vegetables and a dollop of Scotch Egg — is London-perfect, as are the fish cakes and pub wings, just like we remember them from the Cotswalds. We love the cheeky yanks who work there, and the always-friendly crowd gathered round to watch the game or chew the rag. Cheerio, old bean — see you at the laid-back and veddy veddy British Rose & Crown.

We'll admit we've never been to Ireland, but from what we can tell, Rosie McCaffrey's is everything that a good Irish pub should be. Everything from the dark and cozy wooden booths to the top-notch fish and chips makes us feel like we've left the Valley of the Sun for greener — and we mean that literally — pastures. At Rosie's, there's always plenty of whiskey to be had and a seemingly endless supply of dark Irish beers, whether your brew of choice be Guinness or something else. The food, though nothing particularly gourmet, is just the type of hearty bar food to keep you going through a particularly whiskey-soaked day of drinking. We're big fans of the Irish Reuben egg rolls, which combine corned beef and sauerkraut in handy egg roll form. A perfect drinking snack that still leaves a hand free for your beer.

Jennifer Goldberg

Coffee and cigarettes may claim to be the classic combination of the starving artist — the peanut butter and jelly of hipsters, if you will — but Shady's begs to differ. This neighborhood hub has established itself as the go-to nightlife designation for nicotine lovers. While Shady's keeps the interior interesting with a full bar, pool table, lounge chairs, and a jukebox, the outdoor patio is the place that truly packs in the people. Whether you're blowing smoke literally or figuratively, Shady's patio is the perfect spot for conversation, cocktails, and a cold hard cigarette or 10.

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