AOL PICK from our Editors
In Phoenix, the desire to go out after dark is more than a social ritual; it's instinctually connected to the natural, nocturnal biorhythms of the desert. When the sun gives way to stars and the air cools, some Phoenicians seem physiologically compelled to make the most of the night. Others simply get tired of wearing shorts and relish the chance to dress up. Downtown typically empties of businesspeople after 5PM, and a younger and hipper crowd fills the resulting void. Outdoor patios and open-air bars fill quickly when happy hour begins along Central Avenue and in Arcadia, and college students are a fixture in Tempe’s Mill Avenue District. But the unquestioned epicenter of Phoenix’s nightlife scene is Old Town Scottsdale. Beautiful people flock here to drink and dance the night away. Scottsdale has it all: resort bars, jazz hotspots, dives, karaoke joints, chichi lounges and dance clubs. (The clubs don’t start heating up until 11PM.) If Scottsdale doesn't sound like your scene, try arty bars in Roosevelt Row, DJ-driven lounges in downtown Phoenix or Latin dance clubs in the South Valley.
Phoenix is not blessed with a noteworthy live-music scene, but the Rhythm Room has a decent band nearly every night. Independent rock and folk acts like St. Vincent, Lucero and Damien Jurado play the intimate room, as do traditional country artists like Billy Joe Shaver and Junior Brown. The no-nonsense bartenders pour cheap drinks and keep the focus on the music. Cover ranges from $5 to $30.
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If you want to dive into the deep end of Scottsdale’s club scene, here's the place to do it. Axis-Radius is a huge club with a split personality. A $10 cover gets you into two dance clubs. Each sports a different vibe and DJ, though their crowds are strikingly similar (and similarly striking). A glass catwalk links the rooms; beefy guys in designer T-shirts and girls with enhanced décolletages slink across this translucent walkway throughout the night. If it gets too hot in here, liquid-nitrogen nozzles in the ceiling can lower the temperature 20 degrees in seconds. Axis-Radius might be a den of superficiality, but it's fun. The dress code bans athletic wear, caps, sandals, tennis shoes and baggy clothes. Expect a line, but don’t expect the dance floors to start bumping until after 11PM.
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The blood-red booths and velvet-flocked wallpaper inside this restaurant have attracted movers and shakers since 1950. Beef-eating lawyers and lobbyists crowd the bar at happy hour, and playwrights and reporters linger till closing time. But now that light rail whirs and clangs past Durant’s front door, a new generation has discovered this Phoenix institution. They can’t afford the food, so they bask in the character and history of the place while sipping a martini. Two tips: The bar typically closes before midnight, so don’t plan on making Durant’s your last stop of the night; also, those light rail trains are the only things that darken the front door—in-the-know patrons enter through the kitchen, Goodfellas style.
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Who said karaoke isn’t cool? This club in Old Town Scottsdale marries Japanese Tavern culture and American sex appeal. Giant black-and-white photos of Rock ’n’ Roll icons adorn black walls above a hammered-copper bar, where patrons swill fruit-infused sakes. Geisha A Go Go also has a sushi kitchen that serves wild rolls such as the Pokemon—breaded salmon, spicy crab and avocado topped with crushed Fritos and katsu cream sauce. But the private karaoke rooms are the real draw here. You and your friends can rent one out for $75 an hour, and the price includes a sushi platter. Finally… if you've never experienced a $4,000 Japanese toilet, now's your chance. They have heated seats, bidet nozzles, air dryers
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Neighborhood: Paradise Valley
The resorts of metro Phoenix contain some impressive bars and lounges, but for watching the sunset from a dramatic perch, you can’t top the Edge Bar at Sanctuary on Camelback Resort. This outdoor bar occupies the resort’s back patio, which is carved into the flank of Camelback Mountain above an infinity-edge swimming pool. Sleek couches and solar-powered lamps set the mood, and glass balcony walls do nothing to impede the view. The vibe is elegant and the crowd tends to be over 35, but the drinks are reasonably priced. For a slight change in scenery, migrate a few steps to the resort restaurant’s Jade Bar, which has both indoor seating and an outdoor fire pit.
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