Best Gay Dance Club: Karamba Nightclub
Neighboring the Coronado Historic District, Karamba Nightclub is a boisterous Latin nightclub and gay bar — though they welcome all kinds. Featuring two large indoor areas and an expansive patio area, you can easily spread out on the dance floor or find a place to post up and drink. High-energy DJs like Jesus Vega and Stixx are there to entertain while you work it out, or you can come for karaoke, drag shows with your favorite local queens, and more risqué performances always on the calendar.
Best Lesbian Bar: Cash Inn Country
With a giant dance floor, full bar, plenty of space to mingle, and killer happy hour discounts, there's a reason the Cash Inn Country bar is a favorite hangout spot for the local gay and lesbian community. The vibe is laid-back, the decor is cowboy-western, and the staff and customers are friendly and welcoming.
Best Drag Show: The Girlie Show at The Rock
An Arizona drag icon, Barbra Seville has been around for a while — but we won't say how long. She's hosted a number of shows in town, mainly in The Rock's showroom in central Phoenix. The weekly Girlie Show — Fridays at 10 p.m. — is a treasure among them, as Seville will cap off your week with raucous lip-sync performances, fantastic comedic timing, and of course, some light-to-hysterical ribbing of the audience.
Best Outdoor Party Spot: Shady Park
Part old-school lounge, part sports bar, part patio hangout, and part outdoor music venue, Shady Park has become a go-to spot for Tempe locals and those seeking some fun on Mill Avenue toward the end of the week. Shady Park's dog-friendly, tree-laden back patio includes a full bar, plenty of seating, a weatherproof sound system, and a small stage backed
Best Ping-Pong Table: Pattie’s First Avenue Lounge
Pattie's First Avenue Lounge is a dive to some and a gem to others, but there's one thing everyone can agree on: It has a killer ping-pong table. Paddles and balls are provided, and the bartender is all of 10 feet away. The ping-pong table at Pattie's is set up in the covered patio area, so though you feel like you're indoors, smoking is allowed, and so are dogs. So light up, grab a sweaty cocktail, and get ready to serve.
Best Pool Hall: Q & Brew
Best Karaoke: Monkey Pants Bar & Grill
You're out for karaoke, it's finally your turn, and you're not sure whether you should stay seated when handed the microphone or stand awkwardly next to your table and friends — you know, for your diaphragm's sake. Not the case at Monkey Pants Bar & Grill, found in the Huntington Square Shopping Center at Southern and Mill avenues in Tempe. They have a stage — complete with a cozy living room backdrop and two microphones with stands — and you're to get up there when your name is called.
Best Jukebox: Shady’s
The mix at Shady's, featuring
Best Metal Jukebox: The Beast at Cornish Pasty Co.
Next time you're at the Tempe location of Cornish Pasty on Hardy and University drives, look — or listen — for the glowing red room emitting sinister-sounding music, and sometimes, characters. That would be the Beast, and in there you'll find a full bar, pool tables, dartboards, band-sticker-laden booths and high tops, the occasional dance party, and one fantastic jukebox. Slide off your bar stool for a quick trip to that radiant piece of machinery over by the pool tables, and you'll find a contraption teeming with speed metal,
Best Music Venue for Local Acts: Crescent Ballroom
Is there a more enjoyable live music experience than the Crescent Ballroom? Located at the site of a former auto mechanic garage, the venue is a model of good business practice for the rest of the city, offering not just a live music hall but a great restaurant as well. The ballroom itself is a sight to behold, with perfect sight lines, crystal-clear sound, reasonably priced beers, and attentive service.
Best Music Venue for National Acts: Orpheum Theater
In all of the Valley of the Sun, there's no place quite like the Orpheum Theater. Majestic columns, a fantastic chandelier, and Spanish baroque-style murals, all underneath a ceiling of painted clouds against a blue sky, combine to make the Orpheum a fairly spectacular place to see a concert.
Best Tiny Music Venue: Yucca Tap Room
Yucca Tap Room is the longest-running rock bar in Tempe for a reason. It's a comfortable yet badass place to see a show. Feel like getting close and dancing? There's plenty of room up front. Feel like grabbing a stool, nursing a beer, and enjoying from a distance? You can do that, too.
Best Extra-Large Music Venue: Gila River Arena
There might be only a few places to catch arena headliners like Aerosmith, Madonna, and Justin Bieber in Phoenix, but if we had our choice, they'd all come through Gila River Arena, the most music-friendly extra-large venue in town. Somehow, the sound manages to reach all corners of Gila River, and the structure of the seats around the arena means that the stage is always easy to see.
Best Latin Club:
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