Party Crasher

10 Best Back to School Parties in Metro Phoenix

College kids of the Valley, stop your whining about tuition fees and pay attention for a second: If you're one of the many who ditched town during the long, hot summer, there are a couple of things that went down in your absence.

First off, you can forget about tapping a keg or using that funky-looking beer bong outside of Sun Devil Stadium before an ASU football matchup, since the university's braintrust pulled a big buzzkill and banned such things (as well as games like flip cup and beer pong) at official tailgates over the summer. And secondly, a few nighttime hangouts have moved or closed in last few months, including the Firehouse and Smashboxx in Scottsdale, as well as Tempe's Public House on Sixth and The Sail Inn.

Those college kid-friendly bars and clubs that are still alive and kicking, however, are eager to welcome you (and all your student loan money) back and are holding a few parties this weekend in your honor since classes begin at ASU and other schools over the next several days.

Here's a rundown of ten place to get down and get a drink at before you get shackled by the burdens of higher learning.

Gringo Star Street Bar

This Mill Avenue hangout will be the site of four nights of celebrations by way of its XXIV Karat Maroon + Gold Weekend, which -- curiously enough -- kicks off at sort of the beginning of the week. Later tonight, electronica artist, club DJ, and ultra-busy producer Clockwork will launch the party series with a set filled with trap, hip-hop, and loads of bass. Two nights later on Thursday, August 21, his onetime cohort Felix Cartal will takes over the bar's DJ booth and sound system.

And the actual weekend at Gringo Star will be filled with just as much sounds and spirits when Power 98.3's Chris Villa controls the mixers on Friday, August 22, and DJ Convince will wrap things up on Saturday, August 23. Each of the aforementioned gigs starts after 9 p.m. There's no cover, but $5 will allow you to bypass the line outside.

Wells Fargo Arena

One of many perks of being attending ASU -- besides all the eye-candy on campus and the fact its notoriously one of the biggest party schools in the nation -- is the university puts on a "Welcome Concert" every fall at the arena that's free for students. This year's version, which takes place on Tuesday night, will star off-the-wall rapper Mac Miller. Sadly, the show is strictly for Sun Devils only, which is a major bummer if you happen to be a fan of the goofball hip-hoper rapper (or openers Caked Up) but aren't officially a member of the ASU student body. Better hope your friends get some good video on their smartphones. Doors are at 7 p.m. and the concert starts at 8 p.m. Ticket info can be found via the ASU website.


By the way, that snazzy new ASU Sun Card of yours is gonna come in handy in the weeks and months ahead, and not just to get grub in the Memorial Union. Bring it with you to INTL on Wednesday, August 20, and you can score free admission into the dance club's Back to School Bash. Hip-hop turntablist DJ Drama will be in the mix all night with a "special performance" and there's bottle service available for those who feeling like blowing some student loan dollars. Doors open at 9 p.m.

El Hefe

Looks like the staff at Scottsdale's El Hefe location is equally eager to begin the weekend off as early as possible, hence their "Weekends Start Wednesday" party every hump day. And on Wednesday, August 20, the event will celebrate the return of ASU students, and we assume every single college kid as well. Deejay Diesel will paint the place with sounds ranging from rock remixes to club hits to trap music while El Hefe's resident drink pixies dance atop the bar and offer shot service directly into customer's mouths. Now that's some personalized service right there. Doors open at 9 p.m. and there's never a cover.

American Junkie

Turns out that y'all weren't the only ones who went away for the summer, as Scottsdale's American Junkie took a bit of a hiatus over the last several weeks to get itself gussied up with big makeover. It's been christened "Junkie 2.0" and will reportedly feature an upgraded look and an entirely new vibe (although its stored "wheel of booze" and a few other amenities will remain), all of which you can check out for yourself during the place's soft opening on Wednesday, August 20. Doors open at 8 p.m. and there's no cover.

School of Rock

The education that's offered at School of Rock isn't exactly the samre sort of learning you'd find inside campus classrooms. Namely, the Mill Avenue club specializes in such party-hearty practicum as fist-pumping, shot-slamming, and rump-bumping.

Classes are offered throughout the weekend, including during the popular Pulse Fridays affair. A special "Back to School" edition of the night will go down on Friday, August 22, which will be hosted by 101.5's Joey Boy and feature jams from DJs Mikee Mike and EC Rock. Doors open at 8 p.m. and cover charges vary.

Iguana Mack's

Despite their usual awkwardness and wallflower reputation, geeks and nerds are occasionally known to party just as hard as your average frat cat. Check out the after-hours scene at a comic-con for proof of such, or head to this Chandler roadhouse on Friday, August 22, for its "Nerds Rule" bash. DJ Hazardous and the rest of the Party Time Crew will dropping EDM and other high-energy music all night while nerds and nerdettes will partake in such specials as $3 domestics, $4 Fireball shots, $5 Mind Erasers, and $6 Redbull vodkas. Things get going at 10 p.m. No cover.

Last Exit Live

Speaking of scantily clad geek girls, the ladies of Birthday Suit Burlesque will be dressing in nerdy and dirty costumes before stripping down during their "Back to the Books" showcase on Friday, August 22. Last Exit's almost supper club-like vibe will host the troupe's "sinfully sassy, titillatingly tawdry, and utterly uncivilized cabaret" that promises ecdysiast thrills and more than a little skin being show. Oh, and there also will some "tasty treats" offered (other than the dancers themselves), as well as prizes and a performance by The Haymarket Squares. The show starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $8 online, $10 at the door.

Old Town Scottsdale

In case you hadn't heard, we're planning a big party on own that's scheduled to transpire on Thursday, August 28, in the heart of party country (read: Scottsdale's entertainment district) and will offer three straight hours of boozy fun. The New Times annual Back to School Pub Crawl will kick off at 7 p.m. at Maya Day and Nightclub and include stops at Bottled Blonde, Hi Fi, Derby Public House, and Boondocks Patio and Grill.

Participants will each receive one free adult beverage of the beer, wine, or spirituous variety at every one of the five spots, as well as an individual playing card. Those who hit up every location and hold the best poker hand when the crawl wraps up at 10 p.m. will be entered into a drawing for a free Las Vegas vacation for two. Tickets are $15 in advance, $22 on the day of the event. Visit our site for more details.

Arizona Event Center

It doesn't take a straight-A student to figure out that any event boasting a slew of party rock DJs, free lap-dances, drinks in red plastic cups, and both a twerk battle and body shot contest is going to result in one massive rager. Since all of these things are promised to take place during the G.P.A. College Party on Friday, August 29, at the Arizona Event Center we're assuming that such will be the case. The lineup of spinsters includes DJ Holdem, DJ Pest, DJ Pest, and others. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $15.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.