By Dani Horn
At 10:30 p.m. on a balmy Saturday night in Downtown Phoenix at the top of a steel escalator that leads to the second floor of Cityscape’s posh entertainment district, an assortment of young, stylish college-aged girls each wearing 4” heels and ready to dance the night away line up to have their IDs checked. Behind them stand three casually dressed men in their twenties looking to bowl a few games and have a couple of beers. There is also a couple in their early thirties on a second date who are seeking some upscale grub and group of backwards hatted “bros” whose plan it is to challenge the single ladies in attendance to multiple rounds of flashing arcade games, loser buys the winner a drink (all four intend to lose tonight).
As a short yet stern and clean-cut looking bouncer hands three tall and tan beauties clad in black slip dresses back their licenses, another opens the door to Gypsy Bar, an all-in-one bar, restaurant, nightclub and adult arcade ran by the owners of Lucky Strike bowling alley, conveniently located right next door and internally connected to the bar.
Located near 1st Avenue and Jefferson in downtown Phoenix, Gypsy Bar has captured the attention and wallets of a wide array of young (and youngish) people by using an all inclusive format based on Lucky Strike’s Boston, MA bar location of the same name.
“We’re definitely a venue that appeals to a younger crowd but at the same time appeals to a vast demographic of people,” says Gypsy Bar general manager, Rudy Hoeffer. “We get people ranging from college kids to hipsters to young professionals.”
Inside, bright and colorful panel lighting shines through the dark and modern atmosphere. Fuchsia, lime green and violet backlit cutouts for go-go dancers and a stage for live acts flank the main bar which is serving up handcrafted specialty cocktails such the Tropi-Cali made with tequila and golden brown agave syrup. On the restaurant side party goes can nosh on gourmet foods like savory gravy poutines and sweet potato tots made with brown sugar-salt.
On special nights patrons can take in a live show by Peep Me XOXO, a live burlesque style show with aerial elements, real-time paintings by local artists and thumping DJ’s like Louie Maverick and DJayT3. On this particular night, contortion artist Cleodora performs much to the delight of the tipsy crowd. Propping herself up on her elbows, the contortionist swings her legs backwards over her head and points her black vinyl, combat style boots out into the crowd as the applause reaches a fever pitch.
“We perform here pretty regularly,” says Cleodora. “We have certain awesome fans that come back show after show and really support what we do here.”
Indeed, Gypsy bar does keep reeling people back in with it’s unique appeal. Taurus Jefferson and his two friends came out this particular night for a co-workers farewell party.
“I’ve come here numerous times because I like that you have open space with [lots of] room to dance,” says Jefferson. “And the drinks aren’t real expensive here so it’s a real nice place to come and relax.”
The grown-ups only arcade located at the back of the building boasts over 35 different bright and colorful game stations for those less inclined to cut a rug. More popular titles include Deal or No Deal, Pac-Man Battle Royale and Guitar Hero but Gypsy Bar arcade also offers such video game classics like air hockey, skee ball and NBA Hoops. Players can load money onto a rechargeable card that collects spendable points. But instead of getting plastic slinkys or Chinese finger traps, winners can cash in their points for Ipods and other high end electronics.
Not so good at video games? Gypsy Bar still has you covered. Partygoers can head over to Lucky Strike to bowl a few rounds without having to actually leave Gypsy Bar. After deciding to open Gypsy Bar 3 years ago, owners replaced the wall separating the two buildings with a staired walkway. In addition to 12 electric blue lit lanes, Lucky Strike also has pool tables, two fully stocked bars, live DJ’s and even a private lane suite.
“On the Lucky Strike side we have video DJ’s, bottle service and a nice lounge,” says Hoeffer “It’s aimed towards a more upscale bowling experience.”
Gypsy Bar even offers customizable private parties and VIP events for individual patrons and large corporations alike. With a cutting edge audio/video system and professional event planners, the venue has become a top pick for many Arizona based businesses. Companies such as Heineken, American Express and Bosch Tools have all taken over the 10,000 square foot space for various get togethers, team-building events or product launches.
“We like to say we’re chameleons in the event space in that we can cater to anything and can tailor [events] because we try to think outside the box, “ says Hoeffer. “We did a private event for all the NFL elites during last year’s Super Bowl and well, let’s just say we were open A LOT of hours,” he laughs.
As midnight rolls around, things really start to heat up. A new DJ takes the stage and starts his pulsing beats remixed from Drake’s Hotline Bling. The crowd surges and begins to gyrate as a tattooed Cloedora takes to her metal suspension ring. As she starts to slowly spin, a painter finishes up a large canvas featuring a close-up of a teal colored tiger woman with vacant, red pools for eyes. And at the bar, one of the bros’ plans has worked. Sort of.
“She won,” he smiles. “But she’s the DD so I’m treating her to a Coke.”
Gypsy Bar is located at 50 West Jefferson Street in Phoenix. They are open Sunday and Thursday from 11a.m. to 12a.m and 11a.m. to 2a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The bar also offers parking validation and wi-fi.