I started working in nightlife photography back in 2010. As you can imagine, there is a lot that can be said in 7 years of taking photos inside nightclubs/bars. I started as an amateur, but now as a professional photographer, the wisdom I have gained from shooting within the city walls should be shared. This post will be more for people who decide to visit Scottsdale, than an actual techy talk blog. Consider it a PSA of do’s and don’ts. The topics in this blog will be: what to wear, the types of people, locations, the food, the music, the experience, how to park, how to handle holidays and special events, and the growth of the city.
First thing first, what should you wear? Well, that all depends on what type of person you are and where you want to end up. Most bars or dive bars will let you in if you’re in flip flops or sneakers during winter or summer, while most clubs won’t let you in if you’re wearing sneakers or flip flops. During the summer, clubs still expect you to dress nice, even if it is a billion degrees outside. You can never go wrong with a button up, a dress, and breathable pants. Also, NEVER WEAR WHITE OR UNCOMFORTABLE SHOES. If you wear white anything, you are doomed. Just don’t do it, no matter how awesome your ass looks in those jeans. You will get them stained, somehow some way. And ladies, please wear shoes you can wear all night. No one wants to see you walking barefoot to your uber or cab with your high heels dangling next to your body. Those $200 Gucci’s are worthless at this point because you are definitely not impressing anyone.
One thing most people think of Scottsdale is that it is full of “douches and thousand dollar millionaires.” I have been working in the city at over a dozen places for the last 7 years. I have also traveled to a fair number of places in my life. Scottsdale, like any city, is going to have shitty people. But the latter has shown me that Scottsdale is actually pretty awesome with the crowd it brings in and the people that go out. I would say more than 90% of anyone out on any given weekend is out to have a good time with family and friends or looking to have fun in general. Maybe 2 times a year I come across real jerks, and I work about 6 nights a week all year long. Those are pretty good odds in my opinion. It doesn’t matter if you’re partying in Scottsdale or Vegas, you will always run into a variety of people with interesting personalities, and if you have any issues, just turn your cheek the other way, that’s what I do, and I’ve been well off so far.
When it comes to the music, probably every club is going to be playing the same music, which is essentially called, “Top 40.” That means every club will be playing what is typically popular on the radio at the time. On some occasions, some clubs will have special guest DJs that have a name to them, such as: Kaskade, Dada Life, or any other major electronic artist. These are typically ticketed events and should be purchased in advance. All clubs also offer bottle service. So if you find a venue you like best, or willing to try something new, it is typically better to buy a bottle or two and have your own private space for yourself or group that way you have a place to sit and not be jammed or shoved on the dance floor.
The experience at each location will differ. Each club has attractive staff, lights, great sound system, etc. To differentiate between each spot, you must see for yourself with: how did you like your customer service. Are the bartenders nice? Was security good? Were the drinks strong? Was the food good? Was the waitress attentive? Anything you would classify as appealing should be considered when planning a night out.
In an amazing trend that has occurred, most parent companies have deviated from being a direct nightclub and have broken barriers to also being a restaurant. It is an interesting concept, but one that works. By day and evening, locations serve food and show sports on their TVs. By night, these same locations turn into a hollering and crazy dance party. It is awesome to witness. When it comes to the food, not every location has a head chef or perhaps delivers the best quality in food. You can refer to yelp in checking places out in what people have to say before showing up. Planning ahead in any city trip is always a great idea. With Scottsdale being so small and easy to get around in the entertainment district, you will have no trouble picking a spot.
Scottsdale has done a better job at making parking easier for people, but unfortunately, most parking areas are valet, that means there is limited street parking. So here’s my advice. Uber or Lyft in, and Uber or Lyft out. If you have to cab, use Discount Cab as they are one of the more legit cab companies. If you’re planning on drinking, there is no smarter decision than this, simple as that. Always be safe than sorry, for you, your friends, and your family.
With the booming growth of the entertainment district in Scottsdale, a lot of special events take place now in Arizona. This means lots of tourism and lots of people. Take it for what it’s worth, plan ahead. If something is a ticketed event, get your tickets. If you need to be at a popular bar or club, get there early, or expect to pay a hefty (tip per head) at the front door. You can always try to grease the wheels, but if security doesn’t like you, you’re not getting in, so be nice. I always see people waiting in line and if they would have just arrived earlier, things would be different. Just trust me on this one. If you’re going out to a club, don’t expect to walk right in at 11pm. If you have a destination in mind, try to get their by 930-10pm.
Well that’s it! I hope my little insight will help you on your would be travels into one of my favorite cities in America. I hope you have a fun and safe time whenever you plan to visit.