Downtown dance clubs aim to appeal to ASU students with weekly 18, older nights

(Alexis Macklin/DD)
The Bar on Central now hosts College Night once a week, open to anyone 18 years or older. The bar is located where the club Amsterdam used to be on Central Avenue, just South of McKinley Street. (Alexis Macklin/DD)

By Hunter Marrow and Gilbert Gamboa

With blaring dance music set to a contemporary backdrop and high definition videos of pop stars singing today’s hits, The Bar on Central is currently open to anyone 18 years or older once a week.

The bar’s College Night, which began when the bar opened in mid-October, happens every Wednesday starting at 10 p.m.

Located on the north side of the Westward Ho and one block away from ASU’s Downtown campus, the bar’s College Night provides ASU students, as well as all those 18 years or older, with a fun environment to hang out in, co-owner Jackson David Kelly said.

Kelly said the centerpiece of the bar, a back bar built in the 1800s, is the only piece that has remained during the transition from the former club, Amsterdam. Everything else – sound, lighting, paint and arrangement – was redone.

Still, Kelly said, “It’s the same great space that everyone fell in love with,” adding that it’s a place where some have had their first date or other important experiences.

To open these experiences to more customers, Kelly and his business partner, Mark Howard, came up with the idea to start a college-aged night for young adults, something he felt was missing in downtown Phoenix.

ASU student and bar assistant at The Bar on Central, Kris Farkas, said that so far there has been a large interest in the venue’s College Night through social media, but in his opinion, “social media can only do so much.”

Robin Ferguson, a journalism student at the Cronkite School, has friends who go to 18-and-over establishments in Tempe.

“For the people who like to dance at clubs, it’s definitely an option,” Ferguson said, referring to the 18-and-over events. “There’s not a whole lot that goes on in downtown as far as clubs go. Other than that, I think the other options that they tend to lean towards are going to parties, (where) bad things happen.”

Another downtown establishment that offers an 18-and-over event, Sky Lounge, is very much aware of the potential “bad things” that occur outside of their club, according to marketing director Maria Duran. The clubs that offer these events must deal with the potential of underage drinking that occurs outside the club setting. Duran said the club will not allow guests in who are underage and appear to have been drinking.

However, this possibility does not deter the club from continuing to host young adults, as it has been doing for the last 10 years.

The club, located on Washington and Second streets, offers its 18-and-over option on Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., Duran said. Sky Lounge brings in bands, after-concert promotions and other elements.

“Now that ASU is downtown, it makes more sense,” Duran said.

Kelly said The Bar on Central is partnering with promoters, such as DJ Dizzie, and ASU social organizations, like fraternities and sororities, to produce a “bang of a party” at least once a month. Kelly said “some really cool ideas” are in the works, and he will start promoting them at the beginning of 2014.

Contact Hunter Marrow at and Gilbert Gamboa at