Your Guide to Metro Phoenix’s Hottest Nightspots and Dance Clubs

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After the sun goes down, the Valley’s club crowd goes out, typically to any of the lively dance joints and nightspots located in downtown Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale. Each features DJs dropping beats, opportunities for drinking and dancing, and the chance to see and be seen.

The crowds will be even bigger this week with the Super Bowl coming to town and hordes of celebrities, athletes, VIPs, and influencers following close behind to enjoy all the hype — and they’ll be in the mood to party. Where will they be headed? Possibly at many of the same hotspots and hangs frequented by local nightlife regulars.

Like the players of the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, you’ll need a game plan. Here’s one in the form of our guide to the Valley’s hottest clubs and nighttime hangouts, organized by city. Who knows? You might end up partying next to a famous face or two at one of ’em.

Downtown Phoenix

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Downtown Phoenix’s Bar Smith has DJs in the mix every weekend.

Benjamin Leatherman

Bar Smith

130 East Washington Street
602-821-8569

Having opened in 2009, Bar Smith has been around long enough to achieve institution status in downtown Phoenix nightlife. Co-owners Pete “Supermix” Salaz and Sean Badger (a.k.a. DJ Senbad) have cultivated an urban and arty atmosphere — numerous graf murals decorate the walls — while keeping turntables primed for local and touring selectors on both levels of their two-story club. Bar Smith’s schedule is always busy with popular and innovative dance events, including the long-running weekly house music session Solstice on Saturdays. Its rooftop patio is still a go-to gathering spot and has hosted sets by numerous electronic dance music stars and local DJs like Blossom who have gone on to greater fame.

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Things sometimes get geeky at Cobra Arcade Bar.

Michelle Sasonov

Cobra Arcade Bar

801 North Second Street, #100
602-595-5873

Hit up Cobra Arcade Bar on any given night and you’re bound to encounter a colorful crew of locals working joysticks, pounding drinks, hitting the dance floor, and soaking up its arty vibe. Its game selection is all retro everything with dozens of classic coin-ops available for play. Meanwhile, murals by artists El Mac and Lalo Cota dominate the walls and local DJs like Hartbreaks, Yellawave, and ManeOne drop mixes every weekend and keep the energy level as frenetic as a Fortnite free-for-all while bartenders whip up geeky signature drinks. There’s even an anime-themed lounge with Japanese import games a few doors down. If you’re game, they open up daily at 4 p.m.

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Club DWNTWN is located along Central Avenue.

Benjamin Leatherman

Club DWNTWN

702 North Central Avenue

Situated next to Central Avenue bars The Grand and Sanctum, DWNTWN consists of multiple rooms, bars, and amenities. Pay $10 and head left for access to the main room and its sizable dance floor and serpentine-shaped bar furnished with a towering supply of cerveza, many kinds of tequila, and other intoxicants. Pay $20 and head right for the VIP area with plush couches and bottle service. DJs spin a mix of Top 40, hip-hop, and Latin urbano genres as patrons dance and party into the wee hours. The place stays open until 2:30 a.m. or later.

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Kicking back in a booth at Monarch Theatre.

Benjamin Leatherman

Monarch Theatre

122 East Washington Street
602-821-8569

The Monarch has ruled downtown Phoenix’s club scene for more than a decade. The two-story spot has done so by offering a diversity of events, ranging from Latin dance nights and hip-hop sessions to all-out EDM ragers, on both of its floors. Its 7,000-square-foot main room is spacious, laden with amenities like elevated VIP booths, and equipped with a PK Sound system and an enormous stage. Upstairs, the popular Scarlet Lounge hosts DJ events put on by tastemaking local promoters like Techno Snobs that frequently feature underground sounds and undiscovered talents. Here’s hoping Monarch Theatre reigns supreme for decades to come.

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The dancefloor lights up at Stardust Pinbar.

Benjamin Leatherman

Stardust Pinbar

401 West Van Buren Street, Suite C
602-354-2931

Stardust Pinbar is anything but dull. The colorful and clandestine lounge inspired by David Bowie is hidden inside the same building housing concert venue The Van Buren. It features 13 pinball machines, an illuminated disco dance floor straight out of Saturday Night Fever, a fuzzy DJ booth, and a bar with stools covered in glittery silver vinyl. Getting inside is also fun, as it involves a secret entrance rigged up like a walk-up freezer in the neighboring Ziggy’s Magic Pizza Shop next door.

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Tru Ultra Lounge on Central Avenue.

Benjamin Leatherman

Tru Ultra Lounge

915 North Central Avenue

What once was aborted nightspot Track Club is now Tru Ultra Lounge, an upscale cocktail bar and hangout offering R&B, hip-hop, and other urban dance genres. The 3,600-square-foot space, located in the front of the historic DeSoto Building, offers premium libations, bottle service, a 30-foot-long bar, posh seating, and an elevated DJ booth adorned with an LED wall. Overhead, video projections and state-of-the-art chandeliers add a touch of style as patrons engage in drinking, dancing, and various other social rites.

Tempe

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Aura in downtown Tempe.

Benjamin Leatherman

Aura

411 South Mill Avenue, #201, Tempe
480-210-2872

Hip-hop heads of the Valley have a regular hangout in downtown Tempe, thanks to Aura. The 9,500-square-foot nightclub and venue located on Mill Avenue brings in local and nationally known rappers on the regular to perform. Its enormous main room offers a 5,000-square-foot dance floor, 14 VIP tables, several 4K high-def screens, intelligent lighting, and a state-of-the-art sound system. There’s also a huge stage for shows and an adjacent lounge with a chill vibe and its own bar. As is the norm for many Tempe spots, big crowds turn out on weekends, even for Aura’s dance nights.

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C.A.S.A. in Tempe has gotten a makeover.

Benjamin Leatherman

C.A.S.A. Tempe

5 East Sixth Street, Tempe
480-557-8226

Been into C.A.S.A. since its recent remodel? One of Tempe’s best party spots just got better. There’s now more room for nighttime fun at the outdoor/indoor establishments on Sixth Street just off Mill Avenue, including a large alcove on its patio that features seating areas for large groups and bottle service, a new DJ booth, and various HD screens. All of C.A.S.A.’s regular amenities remain, though, including the two-level open-air bar and the indoor dance club next door. They’re also still serving signature cocktails in plastic mini-buckets, which are just as potent as ever.

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The exterior of Darkstar in downtown Tempe.

Benjamin Leatherman

Darkstar

526 South Mill Avenue, #201, Tempe
480-408-5010

In the mood to dance? This two-story nightclub and music venue inside the historic Tempe National Bank Building features multiple bars, a large stage dotted with video screens, an A/V setup with PK Sound, and a mezzanine level allowing views of the enormous dance floor. Later this year, it’s adding an adjacent cocktail lounge and eatery. The brainchild of Scott Price, owner of Shady Park and Sunbar, has welcomed huge crowds after debuting in April 2022, as well as sets by EDM stars Bad Boy Bill, JAUZ, Nils Hoffmann, and Cut Snake.

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Having fun at Fat Tuesday.

New Times archives

Fat Tuesday

680 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
480-967-3917

The blithe, boozy spirit of New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras is celebrated on a nightly basis along Mill by the ASU students and 20-somethings gathering at the Tempe location of Fat Tuesdays. A crew of amiable drink jockeys are happy to dole out 28 different frozen daiquiris by the yard or toss out beads, no flashing required, while its resident DJs spin up high-energy tunes of a Top 40 and hip-hop bent five nights a week to keep its two dance floors — one is inside and the other is out on the patio — hot.

Glow Shots & Cocktails

414 South Mill Avenue, #215, Tempe
480-329-4090

Everything’s more fun in the dark, right? Glow Shots & Cocktails is the latest resident of the second-floor space at the corner of Mill Avenue and Fourth Street, and its appeal lies in its dimly lit interior accented with plenty of blacklight decor. A rotating cast of DJs regularly spin at the nightspot while scantily clad servers hand out cocktails on the large dance floor. Check out Sturdy Thursdays, when hip-hop, R&B, and drill mix with drink specials for a hell of a good time.

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Mill Cue Club is a nightclub and pool hall in one.

Benjamin Leatherman

Mill Cue Club

607 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
480-966-0068

Feel like shooting some stick? You can do so at this combination pool hall, bar, and nightclub in downtown Tempe where dancing to club bangers, Top 40, and EDM is just as much of a focus of the spot as the billiards. If you’re into the former, local DJs are in the mix every Thursday through Sunday evening. For those who dig the latter, Mill Cue Club features close to a dozen wobble-free tables of racking and cracking action in the back and no warped cues, scuffed-up balls, or torn felt in sight. Here’s hoping your aim is true, hustler.

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Destructo during a 2019 show at Sunbar.

Benjamin Leatherman

Sunbar

24 West Fifth Street, Tempe
480-687-8409

In 2019, local restaurateur and entrepreneur Scott Price took a decrepit office space and neighboring head shop and transformed both buildings into an EDM wonderland. Sunbar’s enormous music hall boasts the biggest dance floor in Tempe, a high-quality sound setup, banks of lasers, a massive projection screen, and high-style seating areas. Also on the property: a pinball and game room, and an outdoor patio. Put simply, Sunbar is the gold standard for dance-oriented nightspots in the Valley.

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The historic Laird and Dines building houses both Varsity Tavern and Rodeo Ranch.

Benjamin Leatherman

Varsity Tavern/Rodeo Ranch Bar

501 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
480-534-8620 (Varsity Tavern) and 480-534-8620 (Rodeo Ranch)

Varsity Tavern and Rodeo Ranch Bar are sister establishments that occupy the top of and bottom of the historic Laird and Dines building in the heart of Mill Avenue. Both are excellent choices for a good old-fashioned night of drinking and dancing. The young, fun crowd that routinely packs each spot come for the high-energy music, drink specials, and party atmosphere. Downstairs, Rodeo Ranch has a mechanical bull if you feel like ending your night with a ride.

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Zuma is small but mighty.

Benjamin Leatherman

Zuma

605 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
480-829-6775

Clustered between popular Mill Avenue joints C.A.S.A. and Mill Cue Club, Zuma draws in countless college co-eds multiple nights a week with its party-hardy vibe, booming soundtrack, and ample libations. Fair warning: The club is on the narrow side and things can get a bit cozy, bordering on cramped, when things get going after dark on weekends, often resulting in folks jockeying for space and spilling out onto the smallish patio and a huge line to get in. Basically, try getting there early, be prepared for some close-quarters action, and expect to shower both before and after, particularly if you get hit will the excess spray from some ASU kids shotgunning beers.

Scottsdale

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Bottled Blonde has a new rooftop lounge and party deck.

Evening Entertainment Group

Bottled Blonde

7340 East Indian Plaza, #100, Scottsdale
480-970-1112

Good news party monsters: Last Fall, Bottled Blonde topped its expansive patio by adding a 2,000-square-foot rooftop lounge and party deck. The elevated space, which is accessible from the sidewalk, is outfitted with outdoor games like cornhole, ringed with seating, and offers primo views of neighboring spots and the usual weekend hullabaloo caused by clubgoers on the street below. The upshot is there’s now more room at Bottled Blonde, a popular pizzeria, craft beer garden, and nightlife destination that’s a lively and engaging social milieu.

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A look inside the new Cake Nightclub.

Riot Hospitality Group

Cake Nightclub

4405 North Saddlebag Trail, Scottsdale
480-626-8465

Enduring the large crowds and long lines common at Cake is worth the hassle, as the sweet life awaits you inside. Spoiler alert: It’s probably going to be even busier during Super Bowl week. The libations are decidedly top-shelf, big spenders get pampered with attentive service, and its lingerie-clad staff are total smokeshows. And things have gotten even swankier since Cake returned to Scottsdale’s entertainment district after a five-year hiatus. The rebooted version of the club, located just down the street in the former home of INTL, is bigger and bolder with more sumptuous amenities, an upgraded audio-visual system, a larger patio, a new look, and twice as much debauchery and vice. Stop by and get a slice of the action.

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The exterior of Casa Amigos in Scottsdale.

Evening Entertainment Group

Casa Amigos Tacos + Tequila

7320 East Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
480-361-3440

Wondering what the vibe is at Casa Amigos? Just look at their Instagram — it’s about 98 percent photos of the bar’s lovely, scantily-clad staff. So when you head to the heart of the Scottsdale nightlife district for an evening at Casa Amigos, you should be cool, stylish, and ready to party. Late in the evening, the spot is filled with the young and beautiful dancing to tunes spun by DJs. You could also get there a little early and grab a bite before the night gets going. Casa Amigos offers a solid lineup of classic Mexican fare.

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Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in Scottsdale.

Riot Hospitality Group

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row

4420 North Saddlebag Trail, Scottsdale
480-382-1505

When a place is owned by locally grown superstar Dierks Bentley, you can bet its country music offerings are on point, pardner. Such is the case with Whiskey Row, the recording artist’s namesake nightclub and honky-tonk. It’s just as homespun as any of his chart-topping hits and just as raucous. Overflowing with rustic charm and city-slicker touches, its elevated booths ring the 5,200-square-foot property, each featuring tabletop beer taps and offering excellent views of country and western bands performing on the stage above the bar. Feel free to wear your Wranglers and hit the dance during concerts or weekend dance nights.

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The District in Scottsdale gets rowdy after dark.

Riot Hospitality Group

The District

7333 East Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
480-664-0356

Situated in front of Maya, this combination nightclub, day drinking bar, and hip restaurant draws its name from Scottsdale’s entertainment district. It’s got all the trappings of a party haven: a dance floor, DJ setup, state-of-the-art sound, big booths, a vast collection of intoxicants, and HDTVs playing sports by day and music videos at night. People-watching opportunities abound, thanks to large windows overlooking Maya on one side and the patio opening onto the sidewalk of Indian Plaza.

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El Hefe in Scottsdale.

Riot Hospitality Group

El Hefe

4425 North Saddlebag Trail, #101, Scottsdale
480-945-6200

Don’t let El Hefe’s “Super Macho Taqueria” subtitle fool you; thrill-seeking clubgoers come to the 3,800-square-foot spot in Scottsdale mainly to partake in drinking, dancing, debauching, and various combinations thereof. El Hefe’s been one of the most popular party destinations in the Valley since opening in 2011 but never shows its age. Its owners renovate every few years and the latest makeover added a 45-foot LED screen, a new DJ stage, better seating, and Day of the Dead-inspired décor. It cost an estimated $1 milllion, but as a neon sign on one wall declares, they “paid the cost to be the boss.”

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The interior of Hi Fi.

Evening Entertainment Group

Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails

4420 North Saddlebag Trail, Scottsdale
480-970-5000

As its name implies, Hi Fi is all about sound. There’s an enormous boombox mural along one wall, an artfully arranged collection of vintage speakers above the bar, and a massive audio setup broadcasting beats and bass laid down by DJs. It’s not the only thing cranked up to 11 at the open-air nightspot. Banks of spotlights and LEDs paint the place with a maelstrom of color, swirling across booths decorated with graffiti-like art and the nonstop throng of bodies in motion on the dance floor, between rows of tables, and anywhere else patrons can find room to dance. Hi Fi’s potent cocktails — which boast names like “High Voltage,” “BPM,” and “Reverb” — also help keep things moving.

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The Hot Chick in Scottsdale.

The Hot Chick

The Hot Chick

4363 North 75th Street, Scottsdale
480-550-7819

The sad fact about Scottsdale’s nightlife scene is that the lifespan of most spots is only a few years at most. The Hot Chick, though, has bucked those odds and managed to thrive, even surviving a fire that gutted the place during the darkest days of the pandemic. One of the secrets to its success is the wealth of activities contained within its late ’70s/early ’80s-style digs. Think Dazed and Confused meets Boogie Nights. It’s an eatery, bar, and adult playground that’s packed with distractions like retro arcade titles, ping-pong, Skee-Ball machines, board games, colorful murals, and a pair of basketball hoops on the outdoor patio. And then there’s the busy dance floor at the center of The Hot Chick, where Slippe and other local DJs pump out the jams. It’d be hard to be bored here.

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Clubhouse at Maya in Scottsdale.

Riot Hospitality Group

Maya

7333 East Indian Plaza Scottsdale
480-625-0528

Maya debuted as a 20,000-square-foot day and nightclub in 2013 back when pool party joints were making a splash in Scottsdale. It offered fun in the sun around its pool in the warmer months with ragers after dark inside its Vegas-style dance hall year-round. After the trend went belly up, its owners flipped the script: the indoor club was ditched while the outdoor area was reconfigured during the fall and winter into an open-air party space and “nightlife garden” called Clubhouse at Maya with games galore, various bars, a full menu, and posh patio seating. Swim soirees still take place in the spring and summer. A new nightclub is currently being built from scratch and will debut later this year. In the meantime, the indoor space will become a venue of sorts during the Super Bowl festivities with a stage, couches, and high-tech lighting and sound elements being brought in for a series of concerts.

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Pretty Please Lounge along Saddlebag Trail in Scottsdale.

Benjamin Leatherman

Pretty Please Lounge

426 North Saddlebag Trail, Scottsdale
480-621-9252

Pretty Please Lounge is a rarity in Scottsdale’s entertainment district: a genuine nightclub. While neighboring spots operate as hybrid bar/restaurant concepts in order to survive, Pretty Please strictly does DJs, drinks, and dancing, and does it well. A voluminous selection of spirits, premium bottle service, and a soundtrack of hip-hop, Top 40, and R&B are offered during nights like Pretty Please Fridays and Bliss Saturdays. It’s relatively small in size compared to nearby clubs, but there’s always room enough to strut your stuff. Plus, good things tend to come in small packages.

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Riot House offers one of Scottsdale’s largest dance floors.

Riot Hospitality Group

Riot House

4425 North Saddlebag Trail, #105, Scottsdale
480-935-5910

“Bigger is better” has always been Scottsdale’s motto. The proprietors of Riot House lean into that fact by offering one of the largest dance floors in the city, enormous wall-sized LED projections, unrivaled VIP and bottle service, and arguably the loudest sound system along Saddlebag Trail. There’s also a tropical theme to the place, as evidenced by all palm tree motifs and fruity craft cocktails on the drink menu. It’s a taste of South Beach-style nightclub excess in the heart of Scottsdale.


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