Let's face it. There aren't many better places to party day and night than the PHX. With 360 days of sunshine, or so it seems, and an abundance of pools, it's almost always game on during the daytime. Then, when the sun comes down, the lights come on and you can dance the night away. Here are our favorite places to let our hair down.
Best Pool Party: Soundwave Pool Party
7333 East Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
Temperatures aren't the only thing that heat up in the spring and summertime in the Valley. Poolside parties take place regularly during the warmer months at local hotels, resorts, or any other spot equipped with a pool of some sort. And one of the biggest hotspots for swim soirees is Maya in Scottsdale. Maya's annual Soundwave Pool Party series, which takes place Sunday afternoons, is its biggest attraction and features sets by high-profile electronic dance music superstars like Skrillex, Knife Party, and Bingo Players. Big crowds typically turn out for the affairs and kick it in VIP cabanas, frolic in the water, or get rowdy in front of the DJ booth as beats blast from the sound system.
Best Casino: Desert Diamond West Valley
9431 West Northern Avenue, Glendale
Sure, the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino in Glendale is a stopgap until the Tohono O'odham Nation constructs a much larger entertainment behemoth next door. The forthcoming 75,000-square-foot casino is a long sought-after goal for the tribe, which faced a legal challenge to the project. The new facility is scheduled to open by December 2019. In the meantime, the Desert Diamond's interim casino floor feels brand-new, with tons of slot machines and friendly staff. There are cheap drink specials at the bar, where a TV broadcasts concept art of the future casino on a loop. The ambiance is fitting. Casinos are designed to make you think that with the next pull of the lever, your luck will change. They telegraph to the gambler that something big is right around the corner. In the case of Desert Diamond, it's actually true.
Best Latin Club: Q-Lounge
8501 North 27th Avenue
Four nights a week, the northwest Phoenix location of Bobby-Q transforms into high-energy nightspot Q-Lounge, boasting two dance floors, cheap drinks, and a mix of Latin Top 40, cumbias, reggaeton, and hip-hop. Chicos and chicas alike flock to the spot to shake their culos or pop bottles in the VIP section. Things get particularly lit on Friday nights, when a live ensemble performs in one room while DJ Nicasio holds it down in another and bartenders pour drink specials. And every Saturday it's the Sabados Latinos session, when the joint offers a puro pinche parii with DJs lighting up the sound system, go-go girls shooting confetti cannons, and patrons going hard on the dance floor. It's muy loco and makes for a helluva night out.
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Best Night Club: Pretty Please Lounge
4426 North Saddlebag Trail, Scottsdale
Once inside this Scottsdale hotspot, stroll past the foyer's electric pink "Oh-la-la!!" neon sign and a golden perch-like swing (a popular backdrop for Insta photos) and enter an opulently decorated den of decadence offering an enticing mix of hot sounds and even hotter bodies. A seductively playful verve permeates the 350-person nightclub, from its sultry red lighting and sexy beats to its lingerie-clad female waitstaff. Pretty Please's two hydraulic-equipped VIP booths in the center of the room can elevate you and your squad above the crowd while lasers and smoke effects shoot out from underneath. Sure, it might seem a bit ostentatious at other local nightspots, but in image-obsessed and spectacle-driven Old Town Scottsdale, it's right at home.
Best New Nightclub: Aura Nightclub
411 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
Aura Nightclub has a lot going for it. The 9,500-square-foot spot, which opened in April, has an excellent pedigree, as owner Narender Raju also runs popular local venue The Pressroom. And just like he transformed a shady downtown Phoenix warehouse venue into the aforementioned concert spot, he renovated and revamped the decrepit two-story space on Mill that formerly housed School of Rock into a high-tech nightlife playground. The main room boasts a 5,000-square-foot dance floor, 14 VIP tables, several 4K high-def screens, intelligent lighting, and a state-of-the-art sound system. An adjacent lounge area contains even more seating, a chill vibe, and enormous windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of Mill.
Best Place to Play with Cats: LaGatarra Cat Lounge & Boutique
1301 East University Drive, #136, Tempe
Maybe your landlord doesn't allow pets, or your partner is allergic. Maybe you have a cat, but you just want to hang out with a whole bunch at once. Whatever your situation, La Gattara is the spot to find temporary feline companionship. The brightly colored hangout is stocked with what you need to be comfortable — think shag rugs and beanbag chairs — plus a host of sweet kitties. You can wait for them to come to you, or you can introduce yourself to one. La Gattara also holds events like cat yoga, cat-themed paint nights, and other fun happenings. And if you really make a connection with one cat in particular, we've got good news: All the cats at La Gattara are adoptable, so feel free to turn a one-time meeting into a lasting relationship.