In the City of Roses there are plenty of great restaurants, breweries, wine bars, and a booming indie arts and music scene, and there are plenty of places for a night out dancing. While you shouldn’t bother with most of Old Town—as the area’s new identity has become a place for dirty, regrettable nightlife on weekends—on most weeknights micro clubs like Tube, Black Book, and nearby Fortune don’t have a line and are actually enjoyable. And since a lot of clubs are mainly molestation breeding grounds, I prefer places like CC Slaughters and other LGBTQ-friendly dance nights. Here are a few inclusive options.
Various locations, YGBPortland on Facebook or ygbportland.com
One of the most consistently happening community music events in town is YGB, a semi-regular social that’s half dance party, half live music, and celebrates all things young, gifted, and Black/brown. When you enter the room—whether it’s at Killingsworth Dynasty, Holocene, or Doug Fir—you’ll likely catch a whiff of incense and enjoy the visuals being projected to the beautiful and diverse crowd. Resident DJ Lamar LeRoy is truly phenomenal and plays both old and new cuts, while Renée Lopez (Miss Lopez Media) runs a portrait photobooth and takes candids throughout the evening. Sometimes there’s even Tarot! The event is, of course, open to people of all cultural identities (and always LGBTQ-friendly), but eventgoers are encouraged to keep in mind that this space is meant to center Black and brown people.
Jump Jack Sound Machine
Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi
Jump Jack Sound Machine was founded last year by Portland musicians Natasha Kmeto and Chanti Darling (Chanticleer Trü), who are usually billed here as DJs rather than performers. The Saturday event is known for being hosted by local drag queen Nasty Tasha, having special guests, and the ongoing theme for Mississippi Studios’ monthly queer dance party is “getting sweaty.”
Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside
Blow Pony has been a stalwart and safe space for Portland gays to cut loose for nearly a decade; the dance party promises a wild night and it’s one of the most popular queer events in town. It’s known for drawing long lines, consistently packing 800 or more patrons, and also being a showcase for queer talent.
Lez Do It, Twerk, CAKE
Killingsworth Dynasty, 832 N Killingsworth
Killingsworth Dynasty has become a home for several inclusive hip-hop dance parties and events catered to the LGBTQ communities. Lez Do It gets really popular there, so arrive super early if you want to go on Pride weekend. There’s also Twerk, with resident DJ Ill Camino who plays hip-hop, R&B, bounce, and other booty-shaking music all night long. The Portland edition of CAKE, a mixed space and community hip-hop dance party that started in LA, has been around for about a year now. With resident DJs Automation and Ronin Roc, CAKE is another great, sweaty, all-inclusive hip-hop night.
Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison
Whether it’s a local show, a touring act, Emo Night, or Snap ’90s dance party, there’s something crackin’ at Holocene. While you’ll never go wrong with any Holocene choice, we recommend the super-focused Tribute Nights, which dedicate a whole evening to exclusively playing songs and music videos by hitmakers like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Drake, and Kanye. They also do Slay, a hip-hop dance party for minorities and open-minded people that uses its proceeds to raise funds for organizations like Planned Parenthood and other Oregon charities. Pro tip: You can avoid the line by signing up for the fast pass!
Goodfoot, 2845 SE Stark
For the past 15 years Southeast Portland’s Goodfoot has held SoulStew in its basement, with DJ Aquaman (a 2014 Oregon Music Hall of Fame Inductee) drawing a surprisingly younger crowd with his mix of funk, soul, disco, and break beats on 45 vinyls. Be prepared to get super sweaty and be surrounded by twentysomethings!
More Recommended Dance Nights
Dance Yourself Clean
Second Fridays at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison
Club Nitty Gritty
Most first Saturdays at Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick
DJ Cooky Parker
In the Cooky Jar, first Fridays at Eagles Lodge, 4904 SE Hawthorne; 50: A Possible History of Dance Music, third Fridays at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison; last Fridays at Dig a Pony, 736 SE Grand
Strange Babes DJs
First Thursdays at Dig a Pony, 736 SE Grand; third Fridays at Killingsworth Dynasty, 832 N Killingsworth
First Saturdays at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison
Third Saturdays at District East, 2505 SE 9th
Judy on Duty
Last Saturdays at High Water Mark, 6800 NE MLK
The Get Down
Last Fridays at the Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd
Second Saturdays at Valentines, 232 SW Ankeny
DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid
Andaz on last Saturdays at Analog Theater, 720 SE Hawthorne; Tropitaal, semi-regularly at Goodfoot, 2845 SE Stark