Country Music

Valley Fever to Celebrate the Repeal of AZ's Blue Laws (at 6 a.m. on a Sunday)

Say “Arizona” to any citizen of the other 49 states, and that person is sure to picture llamas on the highway, absurd state laws, and prejudice run amok. He or she might envision a whole state of starched-collar folks sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic as they quietly make a 40-minute work commute, keeping their heads down and refusing eye contact so as to avoid inadvertently breaking any of the state's strangely specific, nonsensical laws.

Because if it sounds like it shouldn’t be a law, the Arizona Legislature probably has voted it through anyways.

As regressive and arbitrary as the state Legislature can be, however, it achieved a moment of clarity when it repealed Arizona’s blue laws five years ago, allowing liquor sales on Sunday mornings. You can celebrate the anniversary of this victory for both Arizona’s name and good sense at 6 a.m. on Sunday, August 2, at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe. The promoters behind long-running country music night Valley Fever are hosting Rooster Club, featuring a Bloody Mary bar, breakfasts specials, and live music by Barefoot & Pregnant and Flathead. There's no cover.

Blue Laws, also referred to as Sunday laws, date back to Colonial times. The idea was that immoral activities such as gambling, alcohol sales, and pagan sacrifices should not be permitted on Sundays, for obvious religious reasons. 

Arizona was part of this puritanical tradition until 2010, partaking in a wasteland where people couldn’t buy liquor before 10 a.m. on Sundays. Liquor sales after 6 a.m. were fair game on every other day of the week, but the early Sunday brunch enthusiasts — the hungover, the immaculately dressed, the hungry, tired masses — were hung out to dry. No Bloody Marys to drown their Saturday night mistakes in. No mimosas to gird oneself for the blistering week ahead.

When the Blue Laws came off the books, Valley Fever founder and DJ Dana Armstrong celebrated the repeal with friends — the "original" Rooster Club. it was a haphazard affair.

"We met [at Yucca Tap Room] the first year it was repealed," Armstrong says, "but it was just a small group of us. ... It was almost kind of a dare — we kind of went out of curiosity, just to see if anybody else would be there. It was just 15 of us. We set our alarms and met there . . . and it was crazy because when we got there, it was like a full-blown Saturday night."

She and Monicque Faber (of Barefoot & Pregnant) came up with the idea for an official event full of drinks, music, and the strict door time of 6 a.m. Rooster Club will feature a fancy Bloody Mary bar, as well as coffee and breakfast specials. Armstrong said she'll probably set her alarm for 4:45 a.m. to prepare, even though she expects many will make Rooster Club an extension of their very late Saturday night.

But for all the event's official business, Armstrong is excited because of its sheer silliness. 

"There was some talk about people making it a pajama party," she says. "I’m treating it like it’s 6 p.m., because when you go in [Yucca Tap Room] and the doors close, it’s like a time warp. When the doors are closed and it’s daytime, it could be any time."

Any time, that is, except the distant, sobering time of the blue Laws.
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Stephanie Chen