The overriding rule in Scottsdale's nightlife district is to go as all-out and over-the-top as possible, as evidenced by the bright lights, enormous dance floors, and blaring soundtracks. So it's remarkable when a place like Ellure Lounge comes along and trumps the competition with its subtlety, style, and sophistication. The Stetson Drive lounge and dance club, which opened in January, offers a posh atmosphere featuring leather and suede seating, mahogany floors, candlelit tables, and walls adorned with crushed velvet. A floor-to-ceiling waterfall greets patrons near the front door, and a color-changing LED wall behind the bar offers tasteful mood lighting. Ellure's seasonal drink menu features martinis and other high-end cocktails made with desert botanicals and locally sourced ingredients. And the DJs behind the mixers tend to spin more house music, funk, and rock instead of the latest club bangers. There's even a private entrance in the back for VIPs and big spenders eager to avoid the crowds. Put simply, there's a definite allure to Ellure.

Not long ago, a small group of creative types from Tempe formed a group called Mutiny Phoenix, and started hosting dance nights on the regular. One of these monthly get-togethers was the Riot! Women's Dance Night — held the first Saturday of the month from May 2016 to June 2017 at the Palo Verde Lounge (they usually moved the pool table). Sadly, that night's over. But as Mutiny Phoenix, the anti-authoritarian social event organizers continue to host female-focused nights like Spellbound at The Bikini Lounge, with features rotating DJs, jams by everyone from Missing Persons to M.I.A. to No Doubt to The Knife, and whatever you want up at the bar. We have high hopes for the group's next move. Entry is free, though often the group encourages donations to LGBTQ organizations.

New kid on the block Club VOLT hit the scene in April and hasn't let up since. The bar's grand opening featured RuPaul's Drag Race queen Shea Coulee. Since then, the club's hosted a slew of other RuGirls, including season nine's thinking queen herself, Sasha Velour. While the touring entertainment's lovely, we're totally partial to the regular programming. Go-go boys rule the roost on Saturday nights, Fridays feature the 4some Revue, and you can't go wrong with Dollar Drink Thursdays. Premium well cocktails and domestic drafts for a buck? Oh girl, we are there.

Kobalt
Lauren Cusimano

Everyone's favorite Park Central Mall hangout also happens to be the Valley's best gay bar. Kobalt makes the grade for two main reasons: killer karaoke nights and even better happy hour specials. But what keeps locals returning to this CenPho hot spot is the community vibe. Service is great, and the staff is friendly. And these folks know how to host events. Whether it's show tunes on Saturdays, all-day happy hour on Fridays, or drag bingo on Mondays, Kobalt has you covered every night of the week. And we certainly aren't mad about the free popcorn and condoms.

Kinda gay. Kinda goth. Kinda sounds like the perfect combo, no? That's the vibe you'll find at Stacy's @ Melrose, a central Phoenix staple of the LGBTQ community. As the name indicates, the bar is located on the Melrose Curve, a stretch of Seventh Avenue that's long been known for being gay- and lesbian-friendly. And Stacy's has fit right in since opening in 2013. Inside the bar, which you might mistake for a church at first glance, patrons can expect tasty cocktails, craft beer, evenings dedicated to music trivia bingo and house music, and the long-running Sour Times dark indie night on Wednesdays, when drinks are two for one.

Plazma

The drag scene in this town is anything but a drag, and Friday nights at Plazma in the Coronado district prove it. The rules to Celia Putty's Freaky Friday are simple: There's no cover if you order a cocktail, stay open-minded, and get ready to join a conga line at the end of the show. One of the Valley's staple drag queens, Celia Putty has started the show at 9 p.m. on the Plazma stage for years, and it usually begins with opening acts from friends like local queens Egypt, Coco St James, and Devina Ross. Expect jokes, gowns, costumes, lip-syncing, dancing, a weird movie playing on the flat-screens in the background, and this being Celia Putty, a lot of props.

TT Roadhouse
Lauren Cusimano

Named for the Isle of Man motorcycle race, Roadhouse is a fitting title for this motorcycle and regular cycle neighborhood dive bar in south Scottsdale. There's a punk vibe inside the wood-paneled walls (one of them supporting a massive print of Brigitte Bardot) of the two-room hangout, and when owner Skoog and crew aren't hosting live shows or DJs, the jukebox is usually on full blast. Packed with punk, rock, punk rock, and lots of outlaw country, you'll typically hear jams from early AFI, NOFX, Hank III, The Pixies, Manic Hispanic, Agent Orange, Johnny Cash, and others. There are also quite a few punk and country compilations featuring everyone from Strung Out to Johnny Paycheck. You can also look forward to the high-end whiskey and craft beer at the bar, the custom-felt pool table, the shady smoking patio, and some of your new favorite bartenders and drinking buddies.

The Rock
Lauren Cusimano

Who puts the "eff you" in fun? The Rock. And we don't mean Dwayne Johnson. This Melrose Curve gay bar is a go-to for karaoke — and it's no slouch when it comes to drag shows and dance parties, either. On Monday nights, however, karaoke queens take over the small dive. You might not encounter would-be pro pop stars on the mic, and that's totally the point. Here, it's about enthusiasm, vodka cocktails, and not necessarily about showing off your wannabe Christina Aguilera pipes. Nobody's gonna be mad if you just so happen to belt out some flawless Whitney or Dolly. Same goes if you can't quite carry a Britney tune.

Ryan Rousseau is a man of few words and a whole lotta records. When the longtime rocker isn't fronting psych-punk outfit Destruction Unit (or one of his many other musical projects), chances are good you'll find him out and spinning select vinyl oddities at Valley Bar or The Womack under the moniker DJ Gila Man. Expect stoned psychedelic grooves, outer-space trips, and assorted far-out sounds when Rousseau mans the ones and twos. In other words? The Gila Man will serve up out-there shit that's probably playing nowhere else in town.

You might know Les Sias better as Les735 or simply DJ Les. Regardless, the Phoenix turntablist knows a thing or three about scratching. Sias showed off his mad spinning skills during the 2017 DMC Phoenix Regional DJ Battle at The Rebel Lounge. Let's just say he wowed the crowd while going head-to-head with the Southwest's most notable scratch kings, because Sias earned himself a spot at the DMC National DJ Battles, held in August at New York City's Highline Ballroom. Les took his tables on the road, and the trip marked the Valley DJ's second shot at competing at the national showdown, as he also competed back in 2013.

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