DJ Dossier

Big Beats, Big Parties, and Big Pimping: Local DJs Share 16 Years of Axis-Radius Memories

The nightlife-loving cats at Scottsdale's Axis-Radius are planning one helluva party this weekend that likely will go down as one of the most memorable in the club's 16-year history. Sadly, that's because the iconic and influential establishment is about to become history.

If you haven't heard the news, the double-sided nightclub, dance joint, and party playground is closing its doors on Saturday night after more than a decade and a half of slinging both beats and booze to thousands of clubgoers and serving as one of the more influential and landmark spots in Old Town.

Since its beginnings as a cigar and martini joint in 1997, Axis and then later Radius, functioned as a haven for all manner of drinking and dancing by the bottle-popping crowd, as well as playing host to more than a few celebrities, pro athletes, and other members of the glitterati. And then there's the hundreds of DJs and EDM artists - both locally and nationally known - who have pulled a set there over the last 16 years.

A surfeit of superstars and some of the biggest more recognizable names in the biz -- from Above and Beyond to Z-Trip, the great godhead of the Valley DJ scene -- have pulled spin gigs at either Axis or Radius, not to mention a nonstop stream of local selectors, beat-jugglers, and platter jocks who have passed through the place or staged a spin gig since the late '90s.

In honor of Axis-Radius' big two-night swan song that kicks off later this evening, we reached out to many of the local DJs who have graced the place with their presence - some of who will be performing at the final parties -- for some of their favorite memories of the club or tidbits from its storied history.

Steve LeVine Longtime club promoter/Former Axis-Radius DJ

In the Beginning: Axis opened by itself as a cigar and martini bar in 1997. Tuesdays was this great Latin night with Passport. Celebrities were hanging out there all the time. I remember Steve Young singing with Passport on a Tuesday night. Ladies night was on Thursday. Friday night was what we took over and really created like something special as far as a Friday night was concerned. For me, I was always trying to come up with a great promotion or a great theme or a great celebrity host type of thing. It was a lot of fun.

Meeting owner Les Corieri: Everyone would always say, "He's so mean, you don't want to work with that guy," and I thought, "No way." I didn't know what to believe and then I went and met him at Starbucks on Indian Bend and he was the greatest guy. And I continued working with him and got my night started and started DJing. Literally two weeks later we were promoting and I was DJing regularly, starting with Friday nights and then just building from there.

Changing with the Times: To me, there's not too many places that have had a run like that. Name 10 other clubs that have been open 16 years? I don't think anyone can do it. And after constantly updating and renovating and changing. The DJ [at Radius] was almost out of sight, out of mind because it was all about the bar. Then, all of a sudden, it's downstairs so people can feel the music and the DJ's front and center. It's literally progressed with the times.

DJ Rob Wegner Former resident DJ at Radius

From Dust to Dust: I had the honor of being the first DJ to actually perform over on the Radius side when it opened [in 1999]. It was me and Dave Rajput. And he was part owner and was required to attend the VIP party, so he asked me to DJ on the Radius side. But the problem with that was it was so new, the room was filled with construction dust. And we were playing vinyl and the dust would land on the records while they were playing. It would get so thick that the needle wouldn't play record a couple of times. It was embarrassing. So I blew on the needle while the record was playing to keep the dust from collecting.

Ashley Judd - Dancing Queen: There was a little platform in front of the old DJ booth where people would dance. And when I was DJing at Radius one night, all of a sudden I look over and Ashley Judd had gotten up there and started dancing. And I was tripping, like, "Man, it's Ashley Judd!"

Big Pimpin: When it opened, I remember it being unbelievable. I think the valet told me there were like 20 Ferraris and like 30 to 60 Mercedes parked there...even Mike Tyson's Rolls-Royce. I mean, the cars they were parking were for all for celebrities. I did meet Michael Jordan there. Charles Barkley was there so much he was like a fixture. He was like the furniture..

DJ Soulman Resdient DJ for Phunk Junkeez

It's Who You Know: Axis-Radius actually was a club that I went from not being able to get into because I wasn't cool enough to actually being the headliner that was cool enough to headline. It was like full circle. I couldn't get into to the club at the beginning because it was so Old Town, house music, and dress code in the beginning, and I'm a westsider, and then it got to the point where everybody was going there and my music had evolved and they're scene had evolved into more of a party rock vibe. So it's cool.

The End of An Era: I think that Axis-Radius being gone is ushering out an era of Old Town being kind of that whole EDM/fistpump scene. I think that's sort of dying off big time on a mainstream level. That's just my opinion. So its the end of the whole 1990s/2000s house music scene. You know what I mean? In the '90s, it was like so, "This is house music, this is our thing," and it used to be like they didn't want no one in there but the old Scottsdale scene. And then as time progressed, it seemed like the whole city went to Axis-Radius, if that makes sense, it wasn't just Old Town people.

DJ Tranzit Scottsdale club scene veteran Partying with Playmates: I remember one of the first times I walked into that club [was] when I first moved here. I took my buddy who was visiting from Chicago there. This was still when I was a nobody out here. We managed to get in and sneak our way up to the second level VIP, don't ask me how. We started walking around, and I all I could see is girls dressed up in lingerie all wearing bunny ears. My buddy then turns to me and says, "Oh shit! I think we just walked into a private Playboy Playmate party!" Those were the famous last words. He reminds me still to this day about that night. Oh, and I cant forget all the great times I had DJing in that place.

DJ Soloman Resident DJ for Republic Fridays at Axis-Radius In the Presence of Greatness: I played a set opening up for Z-Trip when the DJ booth at Radius was on the second floor. And the only way you could get there was up this ladder. And we carried big boxes of records and had to push 'em through this little rabbit hole.

So I'm up there doing my thing and all of a sudden I'm like, "Wow...Z-Trip." He shaped what a lot of us do today. I just kinda hung back and watched him. He was the king of the mashups and -- it was literally the first time I saw this -- he took "Music Sounds Better with You," which was a relatively instrumental song, and drops "It's Tricky" by Run DMC right on top of it. It blew my mind. Two vinyls, no laptops, none of that. I'll never forget it long as I live .

Down the Rabbit Hole: Calvin Harris, when he played there, all 8-feet of him had to duck through to get into the DJ booth that's there now. There's like a little cutout in the bottom and you have to dip down. And then the speakers are hanging right about your head. But if you're like 8 feet tall, your head hits the top of the ceiling there. That was pretty amusing. And then everyone started tweeting about it. Gabriel & Dresden tweeted about it, Fedde Le Grand tweeted about it. You just sorta went through this thing.

DJ MCB Former Resident on Saturdays at Axis/Radius

Size Matters: In my opinion, Radius is the best room Scottsdale had seen in the last 12 years. It was just such a great vibe. And even with all the changes the music stayed good through the ups and downs, through the hip-hop stage and back into EDM. No matter what, for people that wanted to go dancing it was one of the only places that had that big club feel.

And it was so big, you never felt like you were standing around in the same place the whole time. You go to some lounges or smaller venues and you walk around in the first five minutes and you've seen the whole thing. At Radius, there was so much space, you might not see the same person twice in one night.

Big Shows, Big Guests: I opened for Steve Aoki this year. That was pretty wild. That was one of the biggest shows we had there. Dave Navarro was great, all those Super Bowl events in 2008 were amazing...Kid Rock, P. Diddy, Snoop Dogg. So many good times.

Sounds, Waves: The last time we remodeled was back in like 2008 and put in that cryo system. So the first week we reopened, a customer in the VIP took alcohol and blew a fireball at one of the sprinkler-heads. The sprinklers went off and the pipe broke. It seriously was like someone turned on a fire hydrant inside Radius. Water was coming over the rail like it was a waterfall.

Before we knew it, there was like three inches of water on the dance floor and we had to close the room down. It was crazy. At first it looked like the liquid nitrogen line had broke. And I shut the music off and got up the lights and cleared the room out. Luckily, it was just water.

Another time, a guy broke one of the urinals off in the men's bathroom and a wave of water came out and flooded the dance floor, so we had to shut the room down that time as well. People were stilling dancing even though there was water everywhere.

LTJ Lighting Technician/Former Resident DJ at Radius on Saturdays

Watch Out! When the DJ booth was was upstairs, I was running the lighting at Radius, controlling the trucking system that went up and down. And since the go-go [platforms] were not in the center, they were on the outer part of Radius, you had to be careful moving that thing. And I remember this one night almost hitting a go-go in the head just because I lost attention. I think I might have bumped a little with the light but not to the extent that she was injured. It wasn't that bad and I was embarrassed and I remember her turning around and looking at me like, "What the hell?" Sorry.

Glory Days: Every Saturday night playing with DJ Phantom was my favorite because a good friend. And it was where everyone wanted to be. At one time, it was pretty much just Axis/Radius and Sanctuary. There was Opium and like Club Freedom and Icehouse, but I think particularly Radius was sort of the place where everyone wanted to play all the time. Paul Oakenfold came through, Paul van Dyk came through. I got to do the lighting for them and got to talk to them. Everyone that you could think of that's been big came through Radius. I do custom needles for turntables, and when Jazzy Jeff came through, he saw what I did.

DJ Slippe Drunk Dial member/Resident DJ for Twist Thurdays at Axis-Radius

Wild Times: I definitely remember my birthday party there two years ago with my boy Hot Rod and the Wig Mafia guys. We filmed it and they actually put it up on 50 Cent's website. It was a pretty crazy deal. We had the club packed out, we had an ice luge in there with my logo on it, and I had it set up so two girls could shots at the same time. Drunk Dial opened for Manufactured Superstars there. We filmed our "Fall in Love" video there. So there's a lot of cool memories. Glad we got 'em all on video.

I love Axis-Radius. It's been a legendary club. There's nothing like being on those turntables and [seeing] that cryo coming out of the ceiling, people screaming with their hands in the air, and just looking up along the rails and seeing everybody raging. There's definitely been a highlight of my DJ career in Arizona.

Jared "J-Paul" Jackson Member of HavocNdeeD

Meeting His Future Wife at Axis-Radius: I was still living in Salt Lake City and DJing full time and I flew in and had a gig at Radius in like 2007 or 2008. I was friends with DJ Circle and so was she. So I met up with him before my gig and she was over at Suede doing Napkin Nights photography. And she met me by taking my picture. I wanted her to take one with me and couple of fat chicks, which she still teases me about. She hung out with me for a minute, took some photos, gave me her business card which had the link to her MySpace. I actually have that business card taped inside my record needle case to this day.

DJ Sam Groove Hades Entertainment

See and Be Seen: It feels like it's [been] the center of Scottsdale and it's almost like all of the entertainment in town revolves around the club. So playing there feels like you're being heard by the entire city. That was especially the case for me when I opened for Adventure Club last month. After I played -- and even outside the club -- tons of people were coming up to me with positive things to say about my set.

Favorite Axis-Radius gig: Definitely has to be Blackjack last year playing a breakbeat tag set with Soloman in the main room. He used to play breaks back in the day, and got booked at Future Sound of Breaks in Florida a few years back, so it was cool to be a part of an old school versus new school DJ set.

DJ Fashen Valley expat/Former Scottsdale regular

Short and Sweet: My quote is, "They should have booked me more."

Pickster One Resident at The Blunt Club/Valley DJ scene veteran Favorite Axis-Radius gig: The time I played with Z-Trip there was my highlight. That was amazing. Seeing Zach get down in Scottsdale doing what he does best. That was definitely my highlight.

DJ Phlava Bumsquad DJs/101.5 Jamz

An Iconic Spot with Epic Sound: I used to love two things about it: the original Axis up top, the lights used to drop down on the dance floor, and they moved the mist cannons and the lighting over. They made it more of a nightclub, like one of the only true nightclubs when it comes to lighting and sound. It had the whole package. It was a great place to play though. It was the most iconic spot for Scottsdale.

The sound was so incredible, the set up was nice. Between the sound and the lights, it's like playing at a national club with all the elements that those sorts of big clubs have. Between the lights and the sound, the crowd was always great no matter what it was, whether you was playing house, whether you was playing hip-hop, it was always a great crowd. They partied, but it was part of the atmosphere. It was part of that ambiance, the club ambiance. That's why I loved playing there.

DJ Circle Former Resident DJ at Axis-Radius

Seeing Stars, figuratively: My first time in there after they remodeled the DJ booth and I knocked my head pretty good. I'm pretty sure every DJ does when they walk in there. I was like, "How the hell do you get in there?" I thought they were joking.

Seeing Stars, literally: It was a really fun room to play. I did Fridays there on the Axis side and that was always fun too. I remember one-time playing Axis before LMFAO got big and they just showed up and performed.

DJ Benjamin Cutswell Scottsdale club scene veteran

One of the Last of It's Kind: Axis-Radius one of the last real mega nightclubs in Arizona. Like a traditional, dedicated nightclub with a whole dance floor, no one serving food, they're not doing lounge nights.

DJ Hazardous Scottsdale club scene regular The first time I played there [in 2012] was one of my favorite times I had there. I was super excited when I got the opportunity to play there and remember being nervous as shit. Afterwards, thanks to me playing there that first night, it just put me on the map. That's when I started getting recognized by other clubs and other promoters and other DJs and started getting bookings elsewhere.

Like Up on the Sun on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest local music news and conversation.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.