SO YOU JUST MOVED to town and you don't know anyone. Ugh, I hear you, sister. Many moons ago, I felt your pain when I moved to the Bay Area. If I knew then what I know now, I'd have been dripping in pals eager to grab a drink at a moment's notice. Also, if I knew then what I know now, I'd have skipped the Bay Area and moved straight to the far-superior Portland.
The secret to making instant friends is so simple, so ludicrously easy you'll want to kick yourself and everyone you know in the shins once you hear it. In fact, go ahead and start kicking—because that, my new friends, is how you get yourself a cadre of buddies. SHIN-KICKING RECREATIONAL SPORTS! Humping balls around a field, hitting things with sticks, and throwing heavy objects may sound like Neanderthal pursuits, but cave people sure had a lot of friends, didn't they? When you sweat every week with a team, you can't help but bond. Follow a sportsing session with a round of beers at the local pub, and you're pretty much guaranteed BFFs. Portland has no shortage of unusual intramurals, but here are a few places to get started:
Playground Sports: Maybe you want to redo your days of being a playground reject, or kickball just sounds really, really fun—either way, the folks at Underdog Sports League (underdogportland.com) have you covered. They have a variety of activities like the easy-peasy social hour of bocce ball and cornhole to the legitimately competitive outreaches of flag football and volleyball. Longtime Portland league Recesstime (recesstimesports.com) has all the ball sports on lockdown with bowling, kickball, dodgeball, ping-pong, and the elusive mushball (yeah, I don't know what that is either). Also check out Comeback Sports (comebackportland.com) for many of the same throwback hijinks. Fun fact: In Portland, it's impossible to be out of range of a dodgeball flying at your face.
Bar Leagues and Pick-Ups: These can be a little trickier to join. Work at or hang out at a bar long enough and a bartender might ask you to join their softball, cornhole, or dart team. Or an acquaintance will know somebody. Also, many workplaces, community centers, and LGBT organizations have pick-up teams in sports like basketball and soccer.
Running: While the thought of running fills me with existential dread, some people like it. It brings people together through adversity—like 'Nam. Throw some beer at the shenanigans and you've got the perfect Petri dish for happy-friend-time making. There are tons of running clubs in Portland, but the most intriguing is the Portland chapter of the Hash House Harriers (portlandhumphash.org), "a drinking club with a running problem." They run. They drink. Repeat.
Roller Derby: This one is near and dear to my heart, because I've made some of the best friends of my life while on roller skates. Getting to sweat and fall and laugh with a huge group of ladies is the highlight of my week. Roller derby is hard, but anyone can do it. The Rose City Rollers (rosecityrollers.com) have a women's recreational team. (Obvious conflict of interest: I skate with this recreational team.) Their next orientation is on November 7. They teach you everything you need to know about roller skating, then how to play derby. Guys can join in on the fun with Portland Men's Roller Derby (portlandmensrollerderby.com); they're always looking for new recruits.
Start crafting friendships bracelets and perfecting your high-fives, because you and yours will soon be slapping hands at a rapid clip.
More Newcomers' Guide Articles:
Welcome to Portland!
Rain! Rain! Rain! Rain!
A Portlander's Pronunciation Guide
A Newcomers' Guide to Making Friends
Portland Free Stuff
Getting Around Town
Finding a Place to Live
How to Apologize for Moving to Portland
Bicycle Death Traps
Portland History 101
Portland Myth Bustin'!
Portland Tourist Traps