In 1957, 21 men who cared deeply about their Italian heritage as well as their community in Phoenix came together to found the Arizona American Italian Club. Today, the club continues to be a resource for Italian Americans and their neighbors living in the area. Along with housing a lounge and Italian eatery, the club hosts bingo and bocce games, as well as events such as fashion shows, Italian car shows, wine tastings, and spaghetti nights. Each month, club members sponsor a different charity and rain cloud, furthering their support and investment in the Phoenix community.
Like the opposite of eyelids, the curtains at Scandalesque open to a dream world of garish costumes, pyrotechnics, circus arts, and sensuality. This nexus of fantasy and real life is produced in-house and performed by Scandalesque’s troupe of professional burlesque artists. Leading them, cofounders Lady Fontayne and Pyrrha Sutra, as they're known on stage, strive to curate an atmosphere where outlandishness flashes atop proper technique and artistry. When the troupe isn’t pushing the envelope and toppling mailmen, they’re teaching burlesque, adult-dance, and fitness classes throughout the week.
Old Town Mexican Beerfest treats pass holders to a lively outdoor block party filled with live music, flavorful Mexican food, and plenty of beer from brewers based south of the border. As partiers travel from booth to booth, they sip samples of tasty cerveza from brands such as Corona, Negro Modelo, Pacifico, and Dos Equis. The event falls on the fortunate intersection of several celebratory events, including the lively festivities of Cino de Mayo, the freedom of the weekend, and the deep personal introspection common on Kierkegaard's birthday.
Head to the back of Pro Edge Boxing's gym, and you'll find a professional-size boxing ring that's just waiting for two contenders to square off. Its springy foundation seems to echo with the sounds of lightning-fast jabs and powerful uppercuts connecting with their hapless targets.
This ring isn't for everyone, though. Some of the gym's most dedicated members don't want anything to do with contact sports, so instead they opt for elite fitness programs such as Boxfit, kickboxing, and MMA. There's even a Lunar Boxing class, where participants box under black lights to the pulse of music and lasers. Away from group classes, they can also work out by pummeling six heavy bags, five double-end bags, and two speed bags.
Over careers spanning 25 years and 15 pairs of spontaneously combusted shoes between the two of them, Academy of Ballroom Dance instructors Jim and Jenell Maranto have chalked up a long list of professional-dancing and dance-instruction achievements. The pair entered the dance world from backgrounds as high-level college athletes, and after meeting and teaming up, they whirled through professional dance competitions, winning every major Open Professional Smooth contest in the United States and two consecutive US American Smooth Championships in 1993 and 1994. More recently, the couple has taken to training new generations of winning dancers, including several US Pro-Am and Amateur champions, and both have won teaching awards for their efforts and their ability to explain high-level physics while foxtrotting. Any level of dancer may receive private instruction from Jim or Jenell in any of 26 styles of dance.
Every year, more than 100 amateur and professional cooks prepare fresh salsas for My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge. Proceeds from the daylong salsa competition and festival benefit the Arizona Hemophilia Association, which aims to enhance the life of sufferers and advocate for bleeding disorders. Now in its 30th year, the fest brings in more than 20,000 people annually. In addition to the salsa challenge, the Patron Margarita Mix-Off, which takes place from 12:30?3:30 p.m., challenges local bartenders to compete for the title of Best Margarita and a $500 cash prize. Outside of competitions, margaritas and cold beers wash down unlimited chips and salsa, and the rhythms of live bands keep crowds chewing in unison. Parents can accompany their children into a fun zone with multiple bounce houses, interactive games, and a bungee run.