Q & Brew

The Q & Brew is not about the bells and whistles of billiards. It's a straight-ahead place, but its charms are simple and palpable. You go here for cheap drinks, a solid jukebox, and pool tables. There are bonuses, too, like the excellent pinball machine near the entrance and a top-notch smoking patio, but at the end of the day, it's really all about those great pool tables. On a Friday night, the place can get pretty popping, and a couple of local pool leagues meet there throughout the week. The Q & Brew is as legit as it gets, with a plush leather bar and snacks if you're hungry, and it's stood proud in its current location for 27 years. Here's to another couple decades in Tempe.

Gypsy Bar

When the kids are away, the adults will play — most likely, at CityScape's Gypsy Bar in downtown. This recess from responsibility is the go-to spot for grownups looking to get down. At Gypsy bar, the dating game gets literal with arcade favorites Pac-Man, Guitar Hero, NBA Hoops, skee ball, air hockey, and more than 30 others in the Gypsy Game Lounge.

Sure, pimping may not be easy, but playing sure is, thanks to Gypsy's full bar, club dance floor, and weekend nightlife events like Socialite Fridays, Peep Me Saturdays, and Gypsy Moon Sundays in the summer. With the always-flowing drinks and distractions, it's easy to see why this downtown barcade scores serious points.

Stand Up Live

If you build it, they will come. Sorry to get all Field of Dreams, but in the case of Stand Up Live, all you needed to do downtown was build a comedy venue, and the comedians (and audiences) would fill it. The CityScape club has attracted in just a few short years a who's who of comedy, bringing in Adam Carolla, Chelsea Peretti, Dave Attell, Doug Stanhope, Al Madrigal, Hannibal Burress, and Marc Maron, just to name a few. With sister restaurant/bar Copper Blues next door, there are plenty of good options available to meet your two-drink minimum.

Destruction Unit started its life in the mid-2000s as a synth-crushing side project of Arizonan Ryan "Elvis Wong" Rousseau and Memphis punks Alicja Trout and the late great Jay Reatard, but it since has morphed into an entirely different beast. Modern-era Destruction Unit is a three-guitar cult of noise and feedback, and the band gained such national notoriety for volume that the band posted its tour rider online, with non-negotiable statements like "If there is a decibel limit in your city, we can't play your city unless you are willing to risk it or pay the fine" and "Please provide one competent sound engineer that is not afraid of death or excessively loud noise, or both," noting the most apt candidates already have lost most of their hearing. It would come across as punk posturing if the band's songs didn't powerfully demonstrate the transcendent qualities of sonic overload. The band's albums can't quite capture it; it needs to be heard (and felt) live.

Lustre Rooftop Bar

While plenty of restaurants offer 20 percent off for fellow restaurant and bar workers either all the time or at certain times of day, Lustre Bar kicks the whole concept of industry perks up a notch by hosting pool parties with a great view of downtown Phoenix every Monday from 6 until 10 p.m. The fun doesn't stop at the pool, though, because Lustre also offers happy hour pricing all day with great, refreshing, and innovative cocktails dreamed up by Stephanie Teslar. While non-industry types also can weasel their way poolside with a discounted drink, it's supposed to be an opportunity for those who serve to get pampered a little — so buzz off if you plan on being high maintenance. Sadly, this only goes from Memorial Day to Labor Day, while the weather is right for lounging by the pool.

Karamba

Ordinarily, nightlife activity dries up once the liquor stops flowing at 2 a.m., turning most bar and club employees into party-poopers eager to pull the plug, turn off the taps, and lock the doors. Except at Karamba, where the staff entices insomniacs, party monsters, and members of the 18-and-over crowd with promises of after-hours thrills at ungodly hours of the weekend. The place is alive with movement up until 4 a.m. as DJ Jesus Vega spins high-energy tracks, pulsating beats, and Top 40 remixes while clubgoers work up a sweat, work off all the alcohol, or just plain work it. And while there's nary any booze being served, the mix of light, color, sound, and close-quarters contact proves to be intoxicating enough.

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