Aaron Goeglein
If you've spent any significant portion of your life in bars, you know the dark side of humanity hangs out where the light is dim, the air is smoky, and fresh fruit means dried-up pieces of lime. As Halloween approaches, the pull to the dark side gets stronger, and us boring common folk look for ways to push the boundaries of fear, depravity, and alcohol abuse. And a visit to some of these edgier local haunts might just provide the sinister Fall fix you're looking for.

Paragon Club

815 N Killingsworth

If you're craving a little grit, the Paragon comes off hella scary--but it's actually one of the friendlier bars in town. Ring the doorbell after you enter the front door, and you'll be buzzed in through a metal security gate. That's about as terrifying as it gets--although some of the aggro karaoke regulars are a little iffy, too. Actually, the Paragon is one of the more remarkable bars in Portland, because it's one of the few establishments where black, white, Hispanic, gay, lesbian, straight, old, and young people co-exist harmoniously--all in this ridiculous dive. KS

Joe's Place

1801 NE Alberta

Also known as "the only black-owned business left on Alberta," Joe's Place has a bad rap. Its tendency to attract African American patrons really creeps some people out! And sure, there's the urban legend of someone getting shot there, but c'mon! That whole area is gentrified now. The worst thing that could happen is getting your bike stolen, or a fight in the parking lot. It is the only tolerable establishment on last Thursday, it has an all-black music jukebox that kills, and the service is tender in a maternal, tough-love kind of way. MS

Dugo's On Burnside

413 W Burnside

One of the most notorious "Section 8" bars in town, Dugo's is located on the "harassment strip" of west Burnside. You know--that stretch of three blocks you can't pass through without getting hit on, begged from, verbally assaulted, or peed on. But once you step inside Dugo's, you'll find a friendly staff and a multicultural environment with real cheap beers. It's an early hours bar, unlike an after hours bar, which means you can go there at like 7 am, but you'll be kicked out long before beer-30. Fair warning to the females: I also have a two-dude minimum accompaniment before walking in here in the evenings, when things are a little... randier. Oh, and one time I saw this guy there with a pistol hanging out the back of his pants! (Who knows? Maybe he was a cop.) MS

Ship Ahoy Tavern

2889 SE Gladstone

This cozy, old school dive bar is a good place for Reed College kids to slum when they get bored of Putters, but "the Ship's" main clientele are neighborhood folks, a little on the aged side. Urban legends of reckless smarminess abound, such as one friend who swears that whenever he took his girlfriends there, half-toothed gentlemen would simply sit down at their table, block him off, and take their best shot at the little lady. But when the regulars of this joint get their hands on a karaoke machine, they tear it up! A good place for people watching--just don't piss anyone off. MS

Republic Cafe

222 NW 4th

In the heart of Chinatown, the Republic is actually a restaurant, but it has a small, inky-dark bar attached. Cozy couches and darling bartenders beckon you to snuggle in for a few, and their menu isn't too shabby either--if, like me, you're a fan of sketchy Chinese food. It's tiny, but never crowded, and if don't want to run into anyone, it's one of my top choices. But... you know the saying "If there's one there's a ton"? Well... one time I was happily downing some hot and sour soup along with my cocktail, and caught something out of the corner of my eye. It was a fucking cockroach! In my PURSE! MS