I moved to Portland from a big city a few years ago. Since then I've been having trouble finding fun places for people under 21 to have a good time. I'm all for improvising, but it would be nice to know some hangout places around town to use as a default.
—S. Baldwin, Portland
First, let me say that I'm touched that you think I'd even know. The truth is, if I were under 21, I'd be perfectly happy to spend my evenings running my fingers through my full head of hair and rejoicing in my trim, youthful prostate.
One option is the skating rink at Oaks Park (7805 SE Oaks Park Way, 235-5777). Kid stuff? Maybe, but less so on Tuesday nights from 9:30 - 11:30, when an 18-and-over event called "Adult Jam" draws a hip, varied crowd including a sprinkling of roller-derby types.
If you're not feeling that active, try the Red & Black Cafe (400 SE 12th Ave., 231-3899), a worker-owned collective with the anarchic feel of a campus pub (not that anyone remembers campus pubs). Don't forget to tip.
I also want to take this opportunity to mention the new location for SMYRC (3024 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 872-9664), the drop-in center for sexual-minority youth and their allies (ages 14-23), where there's a performance stage, an art studio, a pool table, and frequent performance events. See smyrc.org for details.
If you're utterly straight and don't do enough for the LGBTQ community to consider yourself an ally, the SMYRC space also hosts the Artists Mentorship Program from 5 to 9 pm on Mondays and Thursdays, where established musicians will teach you to be a rock star. Worth noting: Playing in the band is the only legal way a minor can be in a bar without stripping.