by Andrew Jankowski
Portland hosts a wide range of LGBTQ+ events every night of the week, and the LGBTQ+ community is among America’s most vibrant and visible, where you can find everything from dance parties and comedy nights to drag bingo, drag brunch, and drag shows. No matter how you express, there’s somewhere cool and safe for you to meet people like yourself and have a good time. Here’s an updated guide to Portland’s LGBTQ+ nightlife and seasonal events.
Bars, Dancing, Strip Clubs
CC Slaughters & Rainbow Lounge (219 NW Davis) CC Slaughters & Rainbow Lounge is your prototypical gay bar. It’s split into two spaces, joined by a video slot parlor. The Rainbow Lounge is next to Darcelle XV Showplace (see below), and is perfect for a cocktail, chatting, or attending a viewing party, while CC’s dance floor hosts multiple drag revues and party nights every day of the week.
Crush (1400 SE Morrison) Crush is among Portland’s coziest, most queer-friendly bars, and is presently Southeast Portland’s only LGBTQ+ bar. Crush offers a foodie-friendly menu, crafted cocktails, sidewalk patio, burlesque-drag revues, stand-up comedy shows, nonbinary concerts, and pants-free dance parties.
Darcelle XV Showplace (208 NW 3rd) This is Portland’s longest-running LGBTQ+ bar, and home to legendary performer Darcelle XV. Darcelle’s is the go-to place for the most traditional style of drag: heavy makeup, classic gowns, and groan-worthy jokes from some of Portland’s finest queens, including Poison Waters, Bolivia Carmichaels, Alexis Campbell Starr, and Darcelle herself.
Eagle (835 N Lombard) Eagle is under new management, but that hasn’t affected the vibe at this North Portland gay bar. Eagle has pool, a covered smoking patio, and no-frills drinks, and primarily appeals to gay men who like Tom of Finland and Robert Mapplethorpe, if you know what I mean.
Escape Bar & Grill (9004 NE Sandy) Escape Bar & Grill serves the LGBTQ+ community and friends closest to I-205 with pool, karaoke, games, and a full menu. Escape is probably the closest thing Portland has to a full-time lesbian bar, though it welcomes anyone who wants to have a good time.
Local Lounge (3536 NE MLK) This is a neighborhood bar with a calendar full of drag revues, variety shows, karaoke nights, and dance parties. While it shows LGBTQ+ artwork and serves brunch and tasting parties for restaurant pop-ups, Local Lounge has an unpretentious atmosphere with $1 tacos.
Santé Bar (411 NW Park) A piano bar offering cocktails, live jazz, TV musical viewing parties, and open mics with everything from storytelling and poetry to live music. It’s technically in the Pearl District, but is an easy walk from the Old Town gay bars.
Scandals (1125 SW Harvey Milk) At 40 years young, Scandals is among Portland’s longest-running LGBTQ+ bars and is the last vestige of downtown’s long-gone Vaseline Alley gay district. Scandals features pool tables, a sidewalk patio, trivia, viewing parties, karaoke, and monthly live jazz. You can order food from neighboring dive restaurant the Roxy and bring it over. Every June during Pride, Scandals shuts down their section of street for an epic block party.
Silverado (610 NW Couch) The Pacific Northwest’s longest-operating male strip club moved last winter, setting up shop next to the Star Theater in a former sports bar. It doesn’t look like much on the surface, because the real party is in the basement. There aren’t as many poles as the previous location, but there’s no shortage of sexy male dancers.
Stag PDX (317 NW Broadway) It could be due to the management change, but lately Stag has been celebrating bodies that stray away from the classic Magic Mike image. Drag queen MCs host different music themed nights—like trap, Latin, and pop—as well as a weekly amateur night and a drag brunch. Two nights a month, their stage exclusively features trans dancers of all expressions.
Parties & Dance Nights
For Gender-Bending, Glitter, and Sweat:
Blow Pony (Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside) Portland’s longest-running queer dance party/drag revue has expanded, blended, and broken the gender binary for over a decade.
Bridge Club (Various locations) A roaming party for cool kids looking for indie DJs and immersive art installations. Held at locations like the White Owl Social Club, and Produce Row.
Circuit Breaker (Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Circuit Breaker interrupts the national gay party circuit that’s associated with Pride season and White Parties, creating a safe environment for fetish exploration and exposition.
Club Kai-Kai (Paris Theatre, 6 SW 3rd) Patrick Buckmaster’s flagship party brings guests like Tiffany “New York” Pollard, RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni, and their fans to a sex club-turned-concert venue every month for a sex-positive club-kid fantasy.
Full Send (Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Party-producing besties Permanentgoodone and Katya join forces for a monthly themed celebration of queer Burning Man-vibe fashion and dancing.
Switch (Killingsworth Dynasty, 832 N Killingsworth) Dress in your most liberated form as you dance the night away, while watching pop-up drag or people consensually taking part in their favorite kinks, including foodplay and electric shock.
Twirl (Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick) Part concert, part drag show, and part dance party, Twirl is a bi-monthly discotheque from DJ Le’Mix with funk, house, and nu-disco musicians from the local and national scene.
Up (Whiskey Bar, 31 NW 1st) Katya brings the extra-ness every month with Up’s go-go dancers, high-concept drag performances, and pop-up market.
For Lesbians & Their Lovers
Judy on Duty (High Water Mark Lounge, 6800 NE MLK) Portland’s longest-running monthly dance party for lesbians and their lovers celebrates a different woman every month as their poster girl. Judy on Duty plays a crucial role in Portland’s nightlife, celebrating every representation of woman and femme.
Temporary Lesbian Bar (Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N Mississippi) Temporary Lesbian Bar recognizes the gap in spaces prioritizing lesbians with a bimonthly dance party. Trans, queer, and nonbinary people are also welcome, along with anyone who celebrates the queer women in their lives.
Vampyros Lesbos (Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick) DJs Holding Hands and Vera Rubin’s bimonthly goth night is “freak positive and creep negative,” playing from a selection of genres including post-punk, industrial, and italo. Nobody is turned away for lack of funds, only for being haters.
For QPOC, Their Friends, & Allies
Cake, Full Flex (Killingsworth Dynasty, 832 N Killingsworth) Two monthly queer-centric hip-hop dance nights from some of the city’s best LGBTQ+ and ally DJs.
Latin Flavor Queer Dance Party (Whiskey Bar, 31 N 1st) Kaina Martinez’s weekly Latin Flavor party serves up drink deals, pop-up drag, and a wide range of Latinx dance music styles.
Legendary Mondays (Swift Lounge, 1932 NE Broadway) Artist, scholar, and DJ Bart Fitzgerald curates a weekly get-together that lets you turn up or chill out to your heart’s content, welcoming guests like a perfect house party.
Slay (Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Featuring some of the same DJs as Full Flex and Cake, Slay is a monthly dance party prioritizing LGBTQ+ people of color and their friends who know how to act right.
For Men with Beards & Body Hair
Bearracuda PDX (Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside) Bearracuda is part of an international network of more than 60 gay parties celebrating bears—you know, big boys with facial and body hair. Lasers, lights, and all that body.
Daddybone (Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) This seasonal party is less of a place to introduce your dad to gay events, and more of a party for people who find themselves yelling “Daddy” more than once a day.
Lumbertwink (Various locations) This semi-regular party has been held at Tonic Lounge and Funhouse Lounge, and will be held at the Star Theater for this year’s Pride weekend. If you love dancing and seeing cozy clothes on fuzzy bodies of all sizes, this is for you.
Variety, Comedy, Storytelling, & Bingo
A Diamond in the Rough (Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta) All-ages events are rare enough in Portland, yet Stefhannie Nichole Aria and Ava Cado put on a monthly all-ages drag show, giving the under-21 queens a chance to cut their teeth.
BOYeurism, Whoopee! A Sex-Positive Variety Show (Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside) Two body-positive queer revues under one roof! Isaiah Esquire and Johnny Nuriel’s BOYeurism is a literally flaming, mostly male show perfect for the Burning Man bachelorette, while Amory Jane and Lady Coquine’s Whoopee! prioritizes storytelling, comedy, and cabaret in their celebrations of sex positivity. Both shows have awesome raffle prizes.
Having a Laugh with Granny Bea (Harvey’s Comedy Club, 436 NW 6th) Honey Bea Hart cranks up the laughs and her age for a weekly showcase at one of Portland’s longest-running comedy clubs, blending a shifting cast of drag queens, stand-up comedians, and artists who perform both.
Incite: Queer Writers Read (Literary Arts, 925 SW Washington) Kate Carroll de Gutes and Kate Gray prompt LGBTQ+ writers around a central theme and host a bimonthly parlor for them to read their works.
Killer Queen (Clinton St. Theater, 2522 SE Clinton) Violet Hex hosts a monthly all-ages drag revue, giving anyone who can’t or won’t go to bars the chance to experience outrageous, high-energy, and high-art drag in a theater setting.
Melange (White Owl Social Club, 1305 SE 8th) Meaning “mixture” or “mixed” in French, Melange prioritizes the talents of queer performers of color in Portland and Eugene, and is one of the few spots in town to see drag kings.
Outlandish (Kickstand Comedy Club, 16 NW Broadway) Belinda Carroll’s latest venture is a queer-centric late-night talk show and variety revue, one of the first shows to open at Old Town’s new Chicago-inspired comedy club.
Out Loud (Kelly’s Olympian, 426 SW Washington) A brand-new, bimonthly showcase for local LGBTQ+ musicians, benefitting the Q Center.
Poison Waters & Friends’ Drag Queen Bingo (Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan) Poison Waters doesn’t get dressed up to just spin the bingo bucket. No, she brings her friends to put on a full show for the same price of admission as a bingo-only night.
Queen-go (Various locations) Nae Nae Dominatrix spends one week hosting bingo at the Society Hotel in Old Town, then the next week across the river at the Night Light Lounge, which is home to her weekly drag brunch.
Sexy Bingo (Triple Nickel, 3646 SE Belmont) If you’ve ever wanted Courtney Love to host your bingo night, Patrick Buckmaster’s monthly bingo night is for you.
Slant! Live Queer Storytelling (Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, seasonal) They were gone for a minute, but the crew behind Slant! Live Queer Storytelling is back, celebrating the time-honored tradition of live storytelling from across the LGBTQ+ community.
Smut (Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th) Portland Queer Comedy Festival co-founder Belinda Carroll hosts what she calls an “XXX-ish” comedy show with R-rated LGBTQ+/ally humor and a featured burlesque dancer.
The Alliance, the Gay Agenda (Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta) Corina Lucas is among Portland’s funniest comedians, and she makes regular space for fellow LGBTQ+ comedians outside traditionally gay bars with her monthly Gay Agenda show, and her weekly Alliance show (the latter of which is co-hosted by Jake Silberman).
Thursgays (QuarterWorld, 4811 SE Hawthorne) Meet gaymers monthly for pinball and arcade games, or play bingo hosted by Flawless Shade, who hosts karaoke at Capitol Bar, trivia at Victoria Bar, and drag at CC Slaughters.
Wacky Tacky Daytime Drag (Red Light Clothing Exchange, 3590 SE Hawthorne) Not only can the under-21 crowd see drag, but anyone looking to escape the bar scene can go to one of the few alcohol-free shows in town.