Dance Clubs and Live Music
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A Scottsdale mainstay, Martini Ranch (7295 E. Stetson Dr., 480/970-0500, 9 p.m.–1 a.m. Thurs., 8 p.m.–2 a.m. Fri.–Sun.) covers a lot of bases if you’re not sure where to begin your evening in downtown. Downstairs, you’ll find one of the popular house bands covering ’90s hits or heavy-metal favorites. Head outside to the patio for a drink before going upstairs to the Shaker Room, where you can dance to top 40 hits. Less pompous than some of Scottsdale’s other nightclubs, it has become a solid venue for national acts looking for an intimate place to perform.
Welcome to the beating, cologne-scented heart of the city’s nightlife scene. Axis/Radius (7340 E. Indian Plaza, 480/970-1112, 9 p.m.–2 a.m. Thurs.–Sat.) is the quintessential Scottsdale club: beautiful people, large patios, velvet ropes, and expensive drinks. As nightclubs and bars come and go, this tireless legend manages to pack in hundreds of revelers weekend after weekend. A glass catwalk connects the two-clubs-in-one complex—top 40 and dance music on the left and hip-hop on the right.
Myst (7340 E. Shoeman Ln., 480/970-5000, 9 p.m.–2 a.m. Thurs.–Sat.) pumps out house music until close, and often imports well-known DJs like Paul van Dyk and Richard Vission. Wend your way through the sprawling, multilevel club and enjoy a cocktail in the sunken lounge or in the all-white Milk Room. Celebs and athletes, like Shaquille O’Neal, often host parties in this extravagant land of go-go dancers and limos.
Listen for the strumming guitars and clacking castanets on the Scottsdale Mall. Pepin (7363 E. Scottsdale Mall, 480/990-9026, 4 p.m.–2 a.m. Tues.–Sun.) presents live flamenco shows Friday and Saturday evenings during dinner, then clears out half the restaurant to make room for salsa dancing, which begins at 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 9 p.m. on Sundays. You’ll find dancers of all levels, but you can also take salsa and tango lessons throughout the week (call ahead for days and times).
The burlesque craze hit Scottsdale a few years ago with the opening of Jackrabbit Supper Club (4280 N. Drinkwater Blvd., 480/429-4494, 9 p.m.–2 a.m. Thurs.–Sat.). Today, the spray-on-tan crowd still enjoys the nightly—and quite tame—striptease shows that are choreographed to live jazz music. It’s all a lot of campy fun, with acts ranging from belly dancers to va-va-voom bombshells clad in vintage-inspired lingerie. In between shows, the dance floor fills up with club-goers. And should things get a little too warm inside, head out to the patio, which has hosted the likes of Britney Spears and Arizona Cardinal Matt Leinart.
Bikini-clad women dancing in a tableside bathtub—you can decide if this crosses the line of tastefulness at Cream Stereo Lounge (4252 N. Drinkwater Blvd., 602/222-9922, 8 p.m.–2 a.m. Wed.–Sun.). Billowy white curtains and a sleek white-on-white interior give this club a posh, minimalist feel, and its thumping house music and impressive sound system lure an energetic dance crowd. Still, the small club’s pricy drinks and unfriendly doorman may not be everyone’s cup of tea—well, more like Red Bull and vodka here—but the scene is something to behold.
You don’t have to wear tight jeans or sport a tattoo sleeve to appreciate The Rogue (423 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480/947-3580, 8 a.m.–2 a.m. Mon.–Thurs., 6 a.m.–2 a.m. Fri.–Sat., 10 a.m.–2 a.m. Sun.). This trendy dive bar in South Scottsdale attracts skinny hipsters in funky glasses and punked-out kids to its small dance floor, where the DJ spins the likes of The Cure, Pat Benatar, and The Smiths. Grab a Pabst Blue Ribbon or a Stella Artois at the bar, and scope out one of the booths for some fun people-watching.
If you’re looking a quintessential slice of lounge-lovin’ Scottsdale, head to Devil’s Martini (4175 N. Goldwater Blvd., 480/947-7171, 5 p.m.–2 a.m. Thurs.–Fri., 8 p.m.–2 a.m. Sat.). You’ll find an army of highlighted blondes in strappy tops and heels, and well-gelled guys in the requisite jeans and button-down shirts. Sure, it can all be a little pretentious, but it can be perversely fun. And should the just-out-of-college regulars seem a little young, a slightly older crowd gathers at the North Scottsdale location (10825 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480/348-1666, 5 p.m.–2 a.m. Thurs.–Fri., 8 p.m.–2 a.m. Sat.).
Anthropologists should gather at North Scottsdale’s Barcelona (15440 N. Greenway Hayden Loop, 480/603-0370, 4 p.m.–2 a.m. Tues.–Sun.) to study the courtship rituals between the 40-somethings in Arizona. The oversized indoor/outdoor restaurant and nightclub offers live jazz and R&B in the evenings, and the dining room transforms into a dance club with a top 40 cover band after 10 p.m. The dress: “resort elegance.”
© Jeff Ficker from Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona, 1st edition