The Arizona Scene
The Arizona Scene
*Note: The Phoenix Valley — includes Phoenix, Gilbert, Mesa, and surrounding areas.
Dominant Occupations: Like the valley itself, occupations among AZ YSAs are spread out:
1) Guys: Alongside doctors, lawyers, accountants, dentists and engineers, you’ll find plenty of guys who are bus drivers, bank tellers, various types of businessmen, firefighters, or work at call centers. And don’t forget the flat-brim-wearing summer sales types who are still trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, other than make 30 Gs in a summer and spend it all on a Ford Raptor.
2) Girls: Of course there are exceptions, but by and large, pursuing long-term corporate careers is not the primary focus for girls in AZ. There are a lot of dental assistants, hair stylists, office managers, nannies, etc. However, there are plenty who work in business, medicine, education, social work, law, etc. as well.
3) Lots and Lots of Students: ASU, Midwestern, A.T. Still, trade schools and a bunch of community colleges (our personal favorite MCHarvard, go T-birds!)
4) Townies: Not an occupation, but a crucial part of the AZ YSA scene: it’s made up of locals. You will quickly realize that nearly everyone at least knows “of each other” from high school. If all else fails just claim you graduated from Mountain View class of 2006 and no one will question you.
Average Age Range: Because AZ culture is big on marrying young, the lion’s share of singles are 18-24. But by sheer size of the AZ Mormon population, singles range anywhere from 18-35.
AZ State of Mind: Laid back. Fewer cocktail parties, more pool parties and BBQs — and if it isn’t a pool party, it’s a hot tub get together. A fusion of Southern California past-times with a Hawaiian pace of life. Not much pressure to have it all figured out just yet.
Girl/Guy Ratio: Infinity to infinity. That’s an actual figure. There are so many singles here. That cute guy/girl you saw at institute? Talk to them and exchange numbers. They’re a unicorn and you will never see them again. Although at social events, there are usually more guys than girls (it’s not quite as bad as the Belmont pool…yet).
Hobbies: Four words: going to the lake (if you don’t own a boat, you make friends with someone who does. Mastercraft and Malibu are rights of passage here), camping, POOLS, hiking (including night hikes; we may not have mountains, but there are some killer hills up in the desert), tanning, scorpion-hunting, hot tubbing, outdoor bars, shopping, country dancing, golfing, plastic surgery, marrying into Mesa Mormon royalty.
Local Hotspots: Mill Avenue (ASU games, night clubs, dancing, pool halls, bars, pan handlers galore etc), Old Town Scottsdale (wine bars, live music venues, great dining — if a guy take you to dinner out here, he means business), Fashion Square (shopping, shopping, shopping, posh and swanky environment), the Duce (karaoke, dancing, bar, ice cream, boutique, boxing gym—this place has a little bit of an identity crisis but it is where the Mo’s end up going for a night out), In-N-Out (sorry NYC, it’s better than Shake Shack, get familiar w/the secret-no-so-secret menu), Café Rio Taco Tuesdays, the people’s (parents) houses, the Grand Canyon (if you aren’t a native, you will actually take the time to drive 5 hours up to stay for a half hour, snag a pic that is gram worthy, and drive back to the valley), the Salt River, Flagstaff, Rocky Pointe Mexico, Casinos/Golf Resorts, Havasupai, cliff jumping/natural water slides, QT.
Typical Night on the Weekends: Since the Mormon scene is so big, people are always putting on non-church-affiliated but basically YSA-sponsored activities: classic skating, stoplight dance parties, barbecues, desert bonfires, game nights, house parties, etc.
Sports Scene: AZ is the home of the Cardinals, Suns, Diamondbacks, and Coyotes. Don’t ever bring up Tim Duncan or the Spurs organization in general. Quite honestly, though, college sports are probably taken more seriously than the professional sports teams here. If you live in Phoenix, you are a Sun Devil. We don’t have any pity for the kitties (U of A). Although, there is one awesome professional sport perk that everyone can agree on: spring training.
Cultural Scene: We have a bunch of random statues on Main Street in downtown Mesa…museum? What’s that? The culture in AZ is all about vacationing year round. If you are looking to discuss the virtues of post-modern architecture or neo-classical painting, move to NYC, DC, or SF. I thought I saw a paintbrush here once….then the girl who was holding it applied her foundation. But in all seriousness — those looking for a taste of higher society can find it. Check out the Gammage Auditorium in Tempe (which hosts orchestras, comedy shows and touring Broadway companies), the Phoenix Art Museum, or the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix.
Diet: Filiberto’s (anything beto’s or berto’s), Mexican food, Costa Vida/Café Rio, La Grande Orange (LGO), Fox Concept Restaurants, Joe’s Farm Grill/BBQ, Liberty Market. But we don’t go crazy — people are pretty health conscious here in the valley. You have to be when majority of the year is spent in shorts, swimsuits and the smallest amount of clothing that your garments will allow. P.S. Does frozen yogurt count as a food group?
Myth Bust: “Oh, but it’s a dry heat so it’s different!”…We beg to differ. 120 degrees is still 120 degrees.
What it’s Missing: Variety. Lots of sun, no seasons. Lots of chain establishments, not as many quirky, hole-in-the-wall places. Lots of church events and conversations, lots of the same church events with the same conversations a thousand times over. Also missing: the color green. Cacti don’t count. So hopefully you’re into the whole desert/red-rock beauty kind of thing.
Ward Breakdown: Way too many to list. There are four YSA STAKES to give you an idea. If you don’t like yours, find another. Ward hopping is a veritable rite of passage in AZ. Here’s a regional overview:
1) Scottsdale Wards: A little ritzier and fashion forward. They appreciate the finer things in life.
2) Tempe/West Mesa Wards: Young. Home to ASU and MCC. You should channel your inner doorman before you take out that cute guy/girl: check ID.
3) Chandler/Gilbert Wards: Ranges from a little more established and a little older, to fresh out of high school class of 2014. People live in homes here — the older ones own them, the younger ones live with their parents. Chandler and Gilbert are a tad removed from AZ nightlife. The suburbs.
4) East Mesa: They are the locals. They grew up here and will probably never leave. They all know each other and breed with each other. Imagine, if you will, The Hills Have Eyes merged with The Other Side of Heaven. If they do leave, it’s usually just a short stint to BYU to find a spouse who’s also an East Mesa local so they can move back home and live happily ever after as Toros amongst the orange groves.
Temple Proximity: Huge win. There are two temples (soon to be three), the Mesa temple and the newly-dedicated Gilbert temple, within driving distance of anywhere in the valley. The Phoenix Temple is about to be dedicated coming up in November. The furthest you’ll ever have to drive is 30 minutes. Pro-tips: The Mesa temple cafeteria has good food if you are feeling hungry after a session and there is a DQ within walking distance. Dip cone post-baptismal dunking just seems appropriate. If you are stopping through for a visit be warned, the Gilbert temple do NOT rent clothes, so please bring your own.
Dating AZ Guys: They want wifeys. They’re ready to get married and start families, they expect to be the breadwinner, and they want the traditional Mormon family — including the matching white-picket-fence-dinner-at-5-garden-variety lifestyle. Can be prone to hanging out rather than dating, and may be a little skittish around women whose career achievements rival theirs. But don’t judge them too harshly, it just isn’t what they are familiar with. There are plenty who are still living up their glory days in high school (when they peaked), but there are just as many who are successful and moving up in their careers. WARNING: the good ones probably have 4 dates that week. Be prepared to compete.
Dating AZ Girls: AZ girls want to get married and have kids, and most of them will prioritize it over ambition/careers. If they’re locals, the moms can get pretty involved — don’t be surprised if a parent walks out mid-doorstep scene. You meet families way sooner here, and it’s just part of the gig. Mess it up with the girl of your dreams? No worries, the pond is huge out here, and there are plenty of other relationship-hungry women waiting for Mr. Right.
Classic Ward FHE/Activities: We utilize the outdoors as much as possible — sports, BBQs, picnics, swim parties, etc. And anything with free food. Like the Sermon on the Mount, if you feed them, they will come.
Resident Mormon Celeb: Seventy One Toes (blogger), Lindsey Stirling, and last but not least, Jimmy Eat World. Yeah, no one from the band is active, but we still claim them.
Common Vice: Pressure to conform. AZ transplants may feel a certain social/cultural pressure to be a certain way instead of who they are. See: Thou shalt not judge.
ODDS AND ENDS
Price: AZ is cheap. People may look expensive, but the AZ lifestyle is very manageable and easy on the purse strings.
Heat: While 8 months out of the year are absolutely perfect, 4 months are brutally hot. Guys, get in shape. You will have your shirt off. A lot. Don’t tan well? We suggest you look into spray tans; you’re gonna need it.
High School Will Never Be Completely Over: Many people still identify by their high school and still maintain their high school friends. Be ready to hear about Mountain View’s glory days whether you’d like to or not.
What Dating is Like Here: See: Hanging Out. Also, you’d better be OK with dating someone that your friend has already dated and/or with marrying a sibling’s ex happens all the time).
AZ Might Be For You If: You love the heat but don’t need a diverse landscape, are ready to start a traditional home and family, and don’t mind hearing stories about the things people did in high school.