Two women dancing at Judy on Duty in 2018

Let’s be honest. These days when it comes to nightlife, it’s a desert out there for lesbians, bisexual gals, and other femmes in the community. The death of Killingsworth Dynasty brought down two towering queer dance party mainstays, Cake and Switch, and the High Water Mark’s Judy on Duty, a favorite of the twenty-something crowd, is on hiatus for the time being. In fact, there hasn’t even been a space entirely devoted to us sapphic sweethearts in Portland since the untimely demise of the Egyptian Club (a.k.a. the E-Room) in 2010. 

But if there’s one thing we know from LGBT history, it’s that we find new ways to connect with each other and thrive despite all odds. So if you’re looking to tip toe back into Portland’s gay nightlife, here are a few humble suggestions. 

Man of these events are all-inclusive (because we love all love to party together!) but have been chosen based on friendliness towards lesbians, bisexual women, and the gender non-conforming people who love them. 

Dance the Night Away

Phreak Bish

Emerging at Polaris Hall on October 30, high femme maven Maarquii (pictured above) is hosting farewell dance party. Celebrating Black joy with house and dancehall sounds, Phreak Bish puts a heavy emphasis on the glam and the boogie. October 30. 635 N Killingsworth Court. $12 presale, $15 day of.  

Temp Les

Nestled right next to Mississippi Pizza at the back of the pub, at the Atlantis Lounge is the dreamy, intimate venue for Temp Les, hosted every third Thursday of the month. Perfect for a little bit of dancing and some cozy chatting with a full menu of gay girl themed cocktails like the Lavender MenaceEvery third Thursday. 3552 Mississippi Avenue. $10.

Blow Pony

One of the city’s premier queer dance parties, Blow Pony exploded back onto the scene on October 23 at Bossanova Ballroom with a performance from NYC’s Dai Burger and DJ sets from Portland’s own ZepheurSugarpill, Diane Rott, and Sue From Corporate. Expect to get very sweaty to a mix of queer hip hop and pop favoritesMonthly. 722 E Burnside Street$13.

Opal Underground

A relatively new addition to the scene from the creators of Circuit Breaker, Opal Underground shows a lot of promise for femme-forward, psychedelic dance nights. Fans of hyperpop, cosmic disco, and '90s house rejoice! Catch their latest party at VMAC Portland on October 29, $20 presale, $30 for the spontaneous social butterflies. Venues, times, and prices change.

When in doubt, keep an eye out for the city’s most exciting queer DJs. Shannon Funches from Light AsylumPrincess DimebagFather FannieDJ SapphoEmoji Heapand Sham Sisqo are always sure to turn out an unstoppable party that lasts into the wee hours of morning. 

Other Outings

If a wild night out on the dancefloor isn’t your cup of tea, there are still a ton of other options! 

For the one who can’t stop watching roller skating TikTok... 

Try Gay Skate at Oaks Park, the third Monday of every month. It’s got retro date night vibes and an excuse to hold your crush’s hand (so you don’t fall over, of course). To make things even better, starting in January 2022 Oaks Park is adding second night of Gay Skate every month! Every third Monday, plus first Monday starting January 2022. 7805 SE Oaks Park Way. $10 per skater. 

For the dyke on a bike... 

Try the Dream Roll! An adventurous motorcycle road trip and glam camp out in the Olympic National Forest, the Dream Roll is a femme-centered beacon in a male-dominated subculture. And if you’re still getting comfortable on your motorcycle, don’t worry, you have plenty of time to practice: the next getaway is August 19-21, 2022. Annually. Panhandle Lake 4-H Camp. $135. 

For the Tig Notaro/Wanda Sykes/Kate McKinnon fangirl... 

Try the Siren Theater! This women-owned comedy theater has cabaret-style seating, making it the perfect place to cozy up with a date. At time of writing, the theater’s up-coming acts include two nights with Liz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show (heard of it?) and That’s What She Said, a queer feminist comedy collective, with many more shows planned for the future. Shows weekly. 315 NW Davis Street. Prices vary. 

For the sexy librarian... 

Try Incite: Queer Writers Read! Sometimes you want to shake your hips all night long. Sometimes you want to curl up and get up close and personal with the latest in groundbreaking queer literature. This curated monthly reading series, put on by Literary Arts, fosters in-depth discussion with some of the brightest minds in Portland’s literary community. November 27. Virtual event. Free. 

For the silver stud... 

Try Escape Bar and Grill! The closest thing Portland has to a full-out lesbian bar, Escape is the casual hole-in-the-wall to unwind in after a long day. The bar used to host a recurring night just for our beloved lesbian elders, making it just the right spot for the 40+ crowd. Other events include Wednesday and Saturday karaoke, plus DJs every second and fourth Friday. Open Tuesday through Sunday. 9004 NE Sandy Boulevard. No cover. 

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