For those looking to drink and dance rather than drink and drive, consider the Crescent Ballroom, located off the Van Buren and Central Ave. light rail stop in downtown Phoenix — also walking distance from Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix Campus.
Owner Charlie Levy considers the location ideal himself. “Opening up my own music venue is something I’ve always wanted to do, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon this place that I thought ‘this is it.’ ”
Along with the crowd-friendly location, the ballroom, which can accommodate about 500 people, has historical significance that ultimately hooked Levy. The 7,000 sq. foot space, built in 1917, was once the F.L Hart Garage for cars along the Dixie Overland Highway, America’s only coast-to-coast highway, now known as U.S. Highway 80. This building has been here to watch Phoenix transform from a farm-heavy community to a pavement-heavy metropolis.
Although Levy is originally from Louisiana, he himself has watched Phoenix transform before his very eyes; he says it’s “unbelievable” how exponentially Phoenix is growing.
While attending ASU, Levy started his work in the field as a concert director for the student government and then briefly left school to work as a production assistant and talent buyer for a local production company, the Evening Star. He left the Evening Star to go back to school, and has since ventured on his own, leading to the creation of the Crescent.
Crescent hosts local favorites such as Black Carl and Courtney Marie Andrews, as well as a variety of nationally known singers/songwriters in every genre, including Deer Tick (indie-folk), Rachael Yamagata (blues-rock) and Das Racist (alt. hip-hop). And Crescent Ballroom doesn’t have a booking policy.
“We love good music and host a wide range of singers and songwriters, from R&B to pop — there’s something for everyone,” Levy says.
The concert hall does not stand alone, however. There is also a lounge with full-bar service and free, live music everyday, as well as the option to order food from its restaurant, Cocina 10.
Cocina 10 is located within the ballroom, and while the menu is still in progress, the cuisine will be “Mexican-accented road food,” Levy says. He assembled his two favorite chefs from the Valley, Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco and Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco, and he also teamed up with Tucker Woodbury, owner of the Rocking Horse and the Vig in Arcadia, to make the Crescent all it could be. Woodbury has had a long-time background in night life and eateries, especially in the Phoenix area.
Levy’s goal? “To have a place for people to come and enjoy live music, and for the artists to also have a great night and experience.”
For more information and for a calendar of upcoming concerts, visit the Crescent Ballroom’s website.
If You Go: Crescent Ballroom
308 N. 2nd Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Parking is $5; exact change is a must.