Best Dance Club

It's not hard to declare It'll Do the best dance club in Dallas because it's leagues beyond all the others. Those who value exclusivity, expensive bottle service and waitresses in short dresses on their nights out dancing may disagree. But for those who just want an unpretentious and fun place to let loose to good music and maybe meet a new dance partner, it doesn't get better than Brooke Humphries' Old East Dallas establishment. For a cover that usually falls between $10 and $20, you can hear some of the best DJs in the world, like Kevin Saunderson and Danny Tenaglia, who make It'll Do their stopping point when they come through Dallas. And the multicolored, light-up dance floor is the perfect stage for your peacock courtship display.

Readers' Pick: Station 4

Best Green Room

Even the sparsest green room is, by definition, awesome. There's almost always free stuff to eat and drink, and unless you're in the band, which you're probably not, you're not supposed to be there. Who doesn't enjoy trespassing? So you can imagine our level of excitement when we got a look at what the Bomb Factory has backstage: It's like every other venue's green room on steroids. There's a dining area; a weight room; and three rooms with TVs, couches and spacious, fully stocked showers. Most useful of all to touring bands, there are three sets of washers and dryers for catching up on the dirty laundry that has stacked up on the road. Can we move in?

Best Place to Have Your Band Shirts Printed

Every band needs a cool shirt, and who better to help you whip one up than fellow Dallas musicians? The owner of Lewellyn's Print Shop, Chris Lewellyn, is a drummer who has been in the music merch business for nearly 20 years. He got his start working with Reverend Horton Heat and opened his own shop between Deep Ellum and East Dallas after teaching himself how to screen print. Lewellyn's employs Hunter Moehring of Sealion and Taylor Smith of Loafers and also designs posters, album covers and even websites. You'll see the team's handiwork on merch for local bands like Party Static, the venues Three Links and Double Wide, and on goods for national acts like the Toadies and Hank Williams III, too. Lewellyn also strives to accommodate his employees' rehearsal, performing and touring schedules, so when you give your business to this shop, you can feel good about supporting the Dallas artist community.

Best Concert

When Kanye West brought his Saint Pablo tour to American Airlines Center last fall, he brought with him a moving stage unlike any we'd ever seen. Throughout his succinct, one-hour-and-40-minute set, West was suspended above his 20,000-person audience on a giant platform that glided around the arena and left him mostly in shadows. Smoke and light billowing below him gave his ride the appearance of a UFO, and when they weren't surging with him, the illuminated attendees had their phones out to capture its brilliance. The notion of audience as spectacle is not a new one, but it felt new in West's hands. As we wrote in our review, the stage design was a perfect metaphor for West, whose public persona is at once an enigma and an attention hog. The 40-year-old rapper didn't phone it in with his 30-plus song set list. He made the unusual choice of performing covers of songs by Schoolboy Q, Chief Keef and Drake — on which he has features — along with inspired medleys of his own hits, such as "Power" and "Can't Tell Me Nothing."

What happens when you get comedians and actors Charlyne Yi, Thomas Lennon, Udo Kier and Michael Pare together? They head to the Addison Improv. (And no, that wasn't the punch line to a bad joke.) This spring, they were all in town filming Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and took a trip to see their friend, Craig Robinson, perform at the Addison comedy house. Few comedians, save Louis CK, Bill Maher and Jerry Seinfeld, are big enough to fill out a venue like the Majestic or Music Hall at Fair Park; anyone else who's any good — and there a lot of them — heads to the Improv. In addition to Robinson, this year the club hosted Piff the Magic Dragon, Steve-O of Jackass fame and India's most famous comic, Vir Das. Addison Improv is useful, too. If you're working off a ticket, it has a defensive driving course that, unlike most, won't bore you to tears and is somehow also legit.

Readers' Pick: Addison Improv

Best Comeback

Eighteen years after it quit playing, legendary Dallas rock band Tripping Daisy returned for a victory lap. Its first show back, at Club Dada, was packed equally with Gen-Xers who followed them closely in the '90s and young fans who had, until that moment, never had a chance to hear the MTV hit "I Got a Girl" performed live. The reception was so positive and powerful that the band played for two hours, including repeats of six songs. The reunion continued with two more dates in the Dallas area — at Homegrown Fest and NyTex Sports Centre — as well as gigs in Houston, Waco, San Antonio and Austin. Frontman Tim DeLaughter remained vague about the band's future, but when the NyTex gig arrived, it was clear another goodbye was imminent. Energy at the show was sky high, with laser lights, bubbles, 750 pounds of confetti and numerous crowd-surfers, including DeLaughter's son. Breaking up is hard to do, but we applaud the band for giving the brief reunion its all and leaving us wanting more. Here's hoping DeLaughter was serious when he said the group might return in another 18 years.

Best Motorcycle Bar

Strokers Ice House isn't a "Disneyland for bikers." It's as close to motorcycle paradise as can be found on Harry Hines Boulevard near Love Field with its custom motorcycle fabrication studio, bar and tattoo parlor, and live music. Revered custom bike builder Rick Fairless wanted it to be a one-stop shop for bikers, a place where classic rock and blues hold court for the 500 to 1,000 bikes that roll through Strokers on a given night. "It's definitely a biker bar," Tony Avezzano, the former owner of Hat Tricks, a live music venue in Lewisville, told the Observer in June 2016. "But it's not a rough place with a bunch of big biker dudes fighting all the time."

Best Bar Bathroom With a Message

If you're going to drunkenly stumble into a bar bathroom to take a piss, it might as well be entertaining. Nothing says a Saturday night out on the town like crying alone in a bathroom stall. And if you're going to do that, you might as well have a nice view. Adair's Saloon's bathroom isn't necessarily nice or where you would want to change a baby's diaper, but it's fun. And by fun, we mean covered in graffiti. "Let go and let God" and other seemingly inspirational sayings fill the walls. Or, you know, you can always call Susie for a good time. Either way, wander into Adair's bathroom for a leak or cry next time you're there and add your own message. We all need it.

Best Country Bar

It's long been said that Deep Ellum begins at Elm and Exhibition streets with Sons of Hermann Hall. Times may be a-changin', but this mainstay country and western Dallas fixture ain't goin' nowhere. It's old as hell, having remained unmoved since 1890. Still used as a private lodge, the building is now a Texas Historic Landmark and was home to native daughter Kelly Clarkson's first audition for American Idol. Visit the downstairs dive bar for drinks over a game of shuffleboard, or take a tour of the lodge's historical bowling alley. It's rumored to be haunted, but as the dance floor announcer says, "Welcome to Texas, boys and girls, that's fantastic!" Not much has changed inside the Sons of Hermann Hall since its inception year, when Benjamin Harrison was president. Can we all agree that's a beautiful thing?

Readers' Pick: Billy Bob's Texas

Best Gay Bar

Beautiful people. Technically gifted dancers. The occasional Lady Gaga appearance. Polish up them spurs, y'all, because not only is 37-year-old Round Up Saloon the best gay bar in Dallas, it's been voted, word has it, the best in the nation. Tim Smith, the statewide president of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association, tells us its original name was Magnolia Thunderpussies. This has not been verified, but dang it, of course it was. If you're a person with dance envy, no need to worry: The dance floor is huge, so you can join fellow onlookers around the edges and watch the people do their thangs. Don't let the comparatively timid pre-midnight crowd fool you; come 12 o'clock, Round Up turns into a cowboy's dream. Perhaps the best thing about Round Up is that it's a melting pot. You're as likely to encounter a den of straight cheerleading moms as you are a Stetson-sporting, belt buckle-polishing group of vaqueros.

Readers' Pick: Round-Up Saloon

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