Although it looks like any other unassuming neighborhood dive bar, the Ladd's Inn is a storied Portland destination. It's been a hippie folk music venue, a controversial hiphop club, and in more recent history, it has become a destination for under-the-radar chaos, with nightly happenings from karaoke to poker to stand-up comedy. This Saturday, October 13 marks the debut of the latest addition to the Ladd's calendar: An '80s dance party hosted by DJ Kutthroat and presided over by the supremely competent Cora Conzoner. And, in the coming weeks trivia night is making its return, Sunday nights at 8 pm. Working quintuple duty tending bar, busing, manning the fryer, bouncing, and event coordinating, Cora has earned her stripes and more than deserves those tips, so keep 'em coming.
People do some pretty wild partying up in here. What are the telltale signs that someone needs to be cut off?
Well, there was the night when I walked into the bathroom and found a girl puking in the sink. It was just me working so I had to put on rubber gloves myself and fish out the chunks. Sometimes I'll see people put out their cigarette in their beer and then forget and go to drink it. When we have the camera on outside I can see them coming—the people who have a really hard time finding the door to come in. Then I have to help them find the door again to get right back out.
You have a pretty loyal crowd of regulars, any favorites?
My favorite customers are the other bartenders who come in, although the people who are here four or five times a week keeping this place open I consider my friends. Otherwise there're people like Donna, the drunk old lady—everybody knows her.
And you have a ghost, right?
Yes! There was a cook who worked here back when this was a blues and jazz club in the '70s and '80s, and he dropped dead of a heart attack right in front of the bar. He plays tricks on us. One night I was here alone after we'd closed and he grabbed my ass—a full-on ass grab when I was leaning over. And he kicked my coworker in the ankle just the other day. He must not like her very much.
What's the most dangerous drink you serve?
Flaming Dr. Pepper. It's amaretto and 151 lit on fire and dropped into a pilsner. I've given those to people who've dropped them and lit the bar and the floor on fire.