Get Up Offa That Thing

How do you banish the winter blues? Shake till you feel better.

By The Editors May 19, 2009 Published in the January 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

ALTHOUGH WE’VE at last turned the corner en route to longer days, many are the Portlanders who spend January in an ursine state, hibernating on the couch with TiVo and a stack of Truffaut DVDs. But a stalwart, vibrant few refuse to give in to such sad-sack ways, choosing instead to get off their keisters and dance. So eclectic is the city’s groove scene that one could pursue Balkan, Irish or Israeli dance. But we’re partial to the following red-hot nights, where joy and light abound no matter where we happen to be on our year-long turn around the sun.

Imago Theatre, Second Floor
$7-10; 17 SE 8th Ave; 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m.
Every Saturday, the ballroom above the Imago Theatre morphs into a writhing whirl of couples who salsa, mambo and rumba themselves into a collective frenzy. Host Roger Rumba (not his given name) deejays for 100 or more salseros most nights, but when he books live bands, hooo-eee! Crowds of up to 200 pack the dance floor. Beer and wine. The crowd: 20s to 40s. No lessons.

Tango Berretín
$10; 6305 SE Foster Rd; 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
Is it any wonder that dark, brooding Portland has gone mad for Argentine tango? Both the largest and second-largest U.S. tango festivals occur here; even dancers in Buenos Aires are hip to our scene. You too can get seriously sultry on the first and third Saturdays of the month, when tango master Alex Krebs hosts the city’s hottest milonga. Ladies: Don your stilettos. No alcohol served. The crowd: teens to 70s. Lessons at 8 p.m.

Berbati’s Pan
$8; 231 SW Ankeny; 8 p.m.-midnight
Back in 1998, when the zoot-suit riot was at its peak, some 100 swingers (not that kind) would pile into Berbati’s Pan for dance lessons and an evening of live jams from the 1930s and ’40s. Alas, the swing fad faded. But oh sweet revival, it’s surging again. Or at least it is every Tuesday, when live bands such as the Pete Petersen Porkpie Septet get the joint jiving. Full bar. The crowd: 20s to 30s. Lessons at 8 p.m.

Fez Ballroom
$8; 316 SW 11th Ave; 9 p.m.-3 a.m.
On the last Saturday of each month, local deejay duo Anjali and the Incredible Kid spin a night of bhangra, a mesmeric hybrid of traditional Punjabi vocals and hip-hop beats. The soft glow of Turkish lamps and the abundance of pillows heightens the mood, as a crowd gyrates free-form to sensual, thumping melodies. Full bar. The crowd: 20s to 30s.

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