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Best After-School Hangout
Best All-Ages Gift Emporium
Best Birthday Party
Best Book Selection
Best Catered-To-Kids Restaurant
Best Cheap Chill
Best Clothes
Best Free Thrill
Best Indoor Playground
Best Outdoor Playground
Best Outing (Other Than The Malls)
Best Party Supplies
Best Snow Cones
Best Teen Scene
Best Toys
Best Upscale Kids' Clothes

Best Teen Scene

Tucson Mall
4500 N. Oracle Road

READERS' PICK: Think of the Tucson Mall as a natural habitat for that strange, free-roaming beast, the Tucson Teen. Here, you can watch these oblivious creatures as they frolic, flirt and engage in their most primal function: consumption. They shop, they eat, they buy tiny handbags and eye each other under that weird coffee pot balanced on a pillar of brown sludge. Hey, you may be in the mall to buy underpants, but the teens are there to live life! This is where they touch noses with their own, plot fashion coups and fortify themselves with merchandise to ease the uncomfortable transition from boys and girls to men and women. And where else can you see the fashions of tomorrow today: Pants tight or loose? Hair big or small? Black lip-liner? Babies? Only the mall knows.

READERS' POLL RUNNER UP: Iceoplex, 7333 E. Rosewood St. (in the Gateway Shopping Center).

A REAL SCREAM: Since the demise of such venues as the Downtown Performance Center, punk-rock bands in Tucson have been relegated to backyard parties where you know it's the last song when you see the red-and-blue flashing lights. But now a new venue has come to the rescue: Skrappy's, 3710 N. Oracle Road. Skrappy's caters to all ages and persuasions and manages to book great bands from all around the country, in addition to its steady line-up of up-and-coming local acts. There's even an occasional open mic night. The appeal of Skrappy's dark, dingy interior and reverberating hard-core sound is just the kind of thing your parents wouldn't understand...which is all the more reason to make this place your own.

A REAL SCREAM: On Friday and Saturday nights, all of Tucson's underage vampires stay up until the wee hours to flap their wings at The Fine Line Dance Club, 101 W. Drachman St. A Goth godsend for those who want to keep the spirit of Siouxsie Sioux's eyeliner alive, the Fine Line is one of the few places where like-minded teens can strut their stuff, strike morbid poses, and break in their new glitter-covered Doc Martens. Though the Fine Line has a separate bar area (with an astoundingly on-the-ball bartender named Nan), most of its space is devoted to the under-21 crowd, making it a unique commodity in a town full of clubs for old fogies only. As a result, the Fine Line has spawned a loyal coven of regulars who return week after week for their fix of black-only fashions, video game-room sulking, and (our favorite) wannabe -bisexual -girls -in -bras -and -hair -extensions -rubbing -their -bodies -together -on -the -dance -floor. Imagine watching the dance scene from the Peanuts Christmas Special set to the music of Lords of Acid, and you've got the Fine Line. If it weren't for the pervasive odor of clove cigarettes, you could definitely say the place smells like teen spirit.

Case History

1998 Winner: Tucson Mall

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