Catching Up with Two of Portland’s Reigning Queer DJs
Megan Andricos—a.k.a. DJ SAPPHO—has been DJ’ing since 1999. She started in Bellingham, Washington, before relocating to the Rose City in ’03, where she launched Koritsi Komma Records (that’s “Party Girl” in Greek). David Silver—a.k.a. SILVERSOUND—has been spinning for over a decade. Both have participated in Holocene monthly Opal Underground parties, and have also weaved in and out of other queer gigs around Portland for years. We caught up with both of them to chat about Portland’s scene, their histories behind the booth, and most reliable pump-up tracks.
PORTLAND MONTHLY: What’s your go-to song to get a crowd moving in Portland?
SAPPHO: There’s an older gospel song that was released by a group called the Joubert Singers in 1985 called “Stand on the Word.” You get that song playing and you’ve got a dance floor of people singing. Oh, and “Show Me Love” by Robin S. That’s a great anthem for queer nightlife.
SILVERSOUND: If you have a bunch of people in a room and they’re not really moving together to the beat yet, and you just throw out some big song that everyone knows... like, sure that might get the crowd going a bit, but it’s kind of like giving candy to a baby. You just have a hyper-ass baby. That said, for ’90s house specifically, the one song that gets the most excited reaction every time is “Show Me Love” by Robin S.
What does queer nightlife look like right now in Portland? How has it changed?
SAPPHO: Since we’ve been opening up during the pandemic, it’s been very vibrant and well supported, because I feel like people have been sitting at home with a lack of real-life community. There’s been online community, but not a chance to gather. It’s probably the strongest I’ve seen it in a while right now.
SILVERSOUND: I'm seeing this real resurgence of smaller queer clubs and bars opening: Rebel Rebel, Queen's Head, the Eagle. Queer-run spaces that have queer people on their staff that empower them to fully exist in their queerness at work. It makes everything so much more comfortable and so much safer.
What do you think makes Portland such a hub for queer nightlife?
SILVERSOUND: Portland has grown over the past seven years, there’s more people thriving and making art here. We have just enough people where we can actually do cool stuff. It’s simply a numbers game: the more people that exist in one place, that means that there's going to be more queer people there. And the more queer people you have in one place, the more queer people who actually have taste, and want to go to cool dance music parties where we play groovy rave-y ’90s records instead of, ‘I wanna hear Britney again.’
Do you have any favorite memories from your time DJ’ing in Portland?
SAPPHO: Up until 2014, I was playing mostly in straight clubs and didn’t have as much exposure to queer nightlife. Then I went to a party where I heard people playing music that I loved and people dancing to it, and I felt like, ‘Wow, this is a space that I could belong in, too.’ And it gave me the boost I needed to find my tribe, and then also gave me an artistic opening where I could be free to be the artist I really want to be. Since then, almost every time I DJ, it’s always such a joy for me, and it feels like such an honor that I’m given that opportunity to share music with everybody.
Why is it important to have a nightlife space dedicated to the queer community?
SILVERSOUND: Queer nightlife offers us a place where it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you live, or how you present, or how you’re perceived in normal life. You can show up and walk through the door of this club, and when you’re inside, you’re part of the community and family and you are free to be your true authentic, amazing, honest self.
What would be your ideal night out for a Portlander who’s looking to get into the queer nightlife scene?
SAPPHO: I’m involved with a party called Opal Underground at Holocene, that would be a good starting point. Our mission is to book local artists, specifically trans, nonbinary, Black, Indigenous, and people of color—and looking at the programming of Holocene, they have a lot of nights that are similar to that. And from what I’ve been told, there are going to be a lot of Pride events happening this year: everything from RuPaul drag queens at a three-day warehouse event to some underground raves and above-ground nightlife parties and day parties.