A Comprehensive Guide to Portland’s Best LGBTQ+ Nightlife

From old haunts to new favorites, permanent spots to roving dance nights, these are the best spots to get your Pride on.

By Andrew Jankowski Photography by Thom Hilton Published in the June 2022 issue of Portland Monthly

Drag Bingo at Shine

Image: Thom Hilton

IF YOU’VE BEEN taking it slow in recent months/years, you might have reserved a big blowout for Pride 2022; if you haven’t been taking it slow, you might have reserved one anyway. Or maybe you’re looking to build out your list of chill, everyday queer spots, where you can kick back with some drag bingo and a stiff gin and tonic: we all have different needs. Lucky for you, we went to the city’s surviving, thriving LGBTQ+ bars and clubs ahead of Pride (plus some popular queer-centric events at not-strictly-queer spots) to check up on their vibes, hours, and programming. Behold our exhaustive (and exhausting) list.


Mr. Mitchell and Alexis Campbell Star at Darcelle’s

Image: Thom Hilton

Darcelle XV Showplace

Old Town-Chinatown
Darcelle XV is Portland’s grand matron of drag, and her Old Town nightclub has stood strong for more than 50 years. If you visit on a night where the world’s oldest drag queen doesn’t grace the stage, you’ll still be treated to a Vegas-style revue of Portland’s foremost talented, classically painted drag queens. Either way, you can’t lose. Established 1967; shows at 7 p.m. Tue, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Fri–Sat, 11:30 a.m. Sun; 208 NW Third Ave 

Friends at Scandals

Image: Thom Hilton


Scandals is the last surviving gay bar along the stretch of Harvey Milk Street once known as Vaseline Alley. The bar still hosts karaoke, drag shows, dance parties, art receptions, jazz concerts, and brunch, and started serving a small menu of bar staples shortly before its next-door neighbor the Roxy closed in March. The bar has mellowed out over the past few years, but a lively mix of downtown office workers, college students, tourists, and residents keeps the place busy and worth popping into. Established 1979; open until 2:30 a.m. daily; 1125 SW Harvey Milk St 

CC Slaughters 

Old Town-Chinatown
CC’s is many Portlanders’ first gay bar—for good reason. The club is still one of the city’s largest LGBTQ+ venues, and sits just outside the cordoned-off Entertainment District of straight clubs including Tube, Shake Room, and Dixie Tavern. The drinks are cheap, the music’s fun, the resident drag queens are among the city’s best, and there are regular trans talent nights. Established 1981; open until midnight Mon–Wed, 2 a.m. Thu–Sun; 219 NW Davis St

Bartender at Silverado

Image: Thom Hilton


Old Town-Chinatown
Portland’s longest-running male strip club began in the building that now houses the McMenamins Crystal Hotel, before moving first to the edge of Vaseline Alley and finally to Old Town in 2018. Its newest iteration is a street-level bar with twice-weekly karaoke and music played low enough to hear people around you, with a basement strip club hosting a cast of well-toned dancers. The stage is small, the ceiling low, and red-lit private booths lend to a utilitarian, industrial fantasy vibe. Established mid-1970s; open until 2:30 a.m. daily; 610 NW Couch St

Crush Bar

Crush has pivoted away from its reputation as a cabaret bar since the pandemic started, leaning instead on its kitchen and cocktail menu. Southeast Portland’s longest-running queer bar tends to attract a more middle-aged crowd than some of its contemporaries, ranging from elder millennials to silver-hued Gen X’ers taking in artisan old-fashioneds and citrus-infused cocktails. Established 2001; open until 1 a.m. Mon–Thu, 2 a.m. Fri–Sat, midnight Sun; 1400 SE Morrison St

Eagle Portland

Portland’s Eagle isn’t affiliated with other leather bars bearing the same name in major cities a
cross the country, but the atmosphere is so similar that it might as well be. The North Portland spot is a den of testosterone that attracts freak daddies of all genders and their admirers; it hosts kink nights for every uniform, from leather and latex to pup hoodies, coded hankies, and neon warehouse vests. Established 2007; open until 2 a.m. daily; 835 N Lombard St

Bartender at Escape Bar & Grill

Image: Thom Hilton

Escape Bar & Grill

Tucked just down the road from Dav Bingo Hall, and practically in the shadow of Catholic shrine the Grotto, Escape (no relation to the downtown all-ages gay club from the aughts) is a convenient stop for queers living east of 82nd Avenue. The bar’s unpretentious, welcoming environment extends to straight retirees and PDX passengers who need an infusion of brunch, drag, and board games. Plan accordingly: parking fills up fast. Established 2012; open until 9 p.m. Mon, 11 p.m. Tue–Thu, 1 a.m. Fri–Sat; 9004 NE Sandy Blvd


Pearl District
Lined with paintings, dark leather, and bordello velvet, Stag’s space looks like what might happen if Interior Illusions decorated a ski cabin. Portland’s newest male strip club changed management in May 2021, and the club feels infused with fresh energy compared to its pre-lockdown years. Alas, the nights showcasing transgender and nonbinary dancers hadn’t yet made a comeback at press time—here’s hoping they return in time for trans and enby hotties to shake their assets for Pride. Established 2015; open until 2 a.m. daily; 317 NW Broadway


Pearl District
Candy is a glossy, relatively new dance club on the edge of the Pearl District with a wide-open vibe that seems to attract (21+!) Gen Z patrons, who care less about labels and more about vibes. Speaking of vibes: if guests are feeling friskier than the dance floor allows, they need only hop over to neighboring sex club Sanctuary for a raunchier time. Established 2019; open until 1 a.m. Wed, 2 a.m. Thu–Sun; 904 NW Couch St

Peachy Springs at Shine Distillery

Image: Thom Hilton

Shine Distillery & Grill

Shine Distillery & Grill is Portland’s only gay bar making its own spirits. Guests can marvel at Shine’s custom two-story, 130-gallon microstill, or head up to the second-floor patio overlooking North Williams. The menu of elevated pub fare and cocktails (some pop-media themed) is among the best in Portland’s queer-run dining scene.
Established 2019; open until 10 p.m. Wed–Sat, 2:30 p.m. Sun; 4232 N Williams Ave 


Blow Pony

Blow Pony is Portland’s longest-running monthly queer dance party, and it’s always been too big to contain. Its newest iteration at the enormous Epicenter allows for nearly unrestricted sweaty dancing and performances from local and touring drag and DJ icons.
Frequency: Monthly. The Epicenter, 6781 NE Columbia Blvd

Fever Dream

Fever Dream is a new dance party hosted by DJ ALoSo featuring supremely talented local and touring DJs, along with drag and dance artists who fill inner Southeast’s Bit House Collective every month. Doc Marie’s, Bit House’s soon-to-be-neighboring lesbian bar, could help turn the area into a queer hot spot. 
Frequency: Monthly. Bit House Collective, 727 SE Grand Ave 


TempLez, or Temporary Lesbian Bar, is an every-third-Thursday sapphic pop-up for lesbian, queer, trans, and nonbinary people (and their allies) who love good music, good pizza, and good times.
Frequency: Third Thursdays. Mississippi Pizza & Atlantis Lounge, 3552 N Mississippi Ave

Drag Dangerzone

DJ Aurora and drag queens Valerie DeVille and Marla Darling’s long-running comedy variety show features local drag, burlesque, live singing, and other talent-filled performances. Frequency: Fourth Thursdays. Mississippi Pizza & Atlantis Lounge, 3552 N Mississippi Ave

Opal Underground

Opal Underground are a trio of DJs—Chelsea Starr, Sappho, and silversound—joined by drag hosts Flawless Shade and Atlas for a night of immaculate alt queer music at industrial stalwart Holocene. 
Frequency: Second Saturdays. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St

Dead Name

Dead Name is a goth dance party led by DJ Emoji Heap celebrating trans and nonbinary achievements in electronic music, “to showcase their creative anguish and ecstasy.”
Frequency: Varies. Coffin Club, 421 SE Grand Ave


Hosted by nightlife staple Nikki Lev, Kit-N-Kaboodle is a weekly night featuring all gender expressions and body types taking center stage at the Old Town strip club snuggled right beside Voodoo Doughnut. Frequency: Tuesdays. Kit Kat Club, 231 SW Ankeny St 

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