West End: Entertainment

What to Do in Portland's West End

Bouncy dance floors, peaceful pulpits, and high-end cinema—this neighborhood has ’em all.

Edited by Kelly Clarke By Staff May 15, 2017

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The Crystal Ballroom

Whether you feel like taking in a film with first-class food, bouncing on a “floating” dance floor or exploring the city’s wilder side, the West End has plenty of ways to occupy your time.

Crystal Ballroom

Portland has danced, shouted, and bounced on the Crystal Ballroom’s trademark “floating floor” for more than a century—a live music and dance venue as storied as any museum. Owned since the 1990s by the McMenamins brothers (the region’s preeminent beer + restoration experts), the vividly decorated theater’s mainstage has played host to acts from ’60s-era Grateful Dead and Ike & Tina Turner to Sleater-Kinney and Future Islands. Downstairs, Lola’s Room deploys ’80s Video Dance Attack dance parties and smaller shows weekly.

Living Room Theaters

Duck through the wood-and-glass lobby, pass the hopping bar, slip into plush seats, and fasten your seat belts. Living Room Theaters is an upgrade to first class, complete with food service at your seat. Thick napkins, real wine glasses, heavy silverware. Only in Portland can you canoodle at an indie movie, sip pinot noir, eat fresh popcorn from a ceramic bowl, nibble an arugula salad, devour a Cascade Natural beef burger dripping with piquillo aioli, and nab a locally made vegan truffle. Movie tickets fly for just $5 all day Monday and Tuesday.

First Presbyterian Church

Take a break from the city’s overwhelming quirk with a stroll around this peaceful, 1890s-era house of worship, complete with a commanding stone façade, wraparound wood balconies and a double-decker pipe organ. (Psst: First Pres was featured in New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed video about his own family’s refugee history in America. The church calls Trump’s Muslim ban “antithetical to our faith.”)

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Flashy footwear at Spartacus

Image: Kelly Clarke


Arguably the city’s friendliest BDSM and sex toy shop, this three-decade old den of leather gimp masks, fishnet hose, kinky boots, and corsets has been servicing locals for three decades. From the sprawling wall of lube to a rainbow of wigs, they’ve got you covered—for whatever your night may have in store.

Delve Readers Seminars at Literary Arts

The well-read crew behind Wordstock and the Portland Arts & Lectures Series hosts smaller group book talks at their West End headquarters. Meet with like-minded readers and scholarly guides to discuss “challenging” texts, like Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, or try “Unconventional Storytelling in Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation and Other Contemporary Works by Women."

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