When Gaycation celebrated its reign as one of Portland’s longest-running dance parties this February, you could hardly tell it was a special night: The monthly gathering of LGBTs and their allies at Holocene is always packed, with a line stretching down half of Southeast Morrison Street. Once inside, it’s hard to do much but dance to the sounds of guest spinners and creators Mr. Charming and DJ Snowtiger, who celebrated six years of spending every third Saturday at the inner-Southeast venue.
Portland’s queer nightlife scene has spawned several other parties since Gaycation appeared on the scene. The once-a-month model works well for promoters and the bars that host them, catering to all members of the rainbow but drawing in those who don’t have Old Town gay bars seeking their patronage. Largely populated by females, genderqueer and transgender PDXers, there are enough of these nights to keep the community socializing every Thursday through Saturday.
At the Know, Bruce LaBruiser’s Dirt Bag brings in a devoted crew of drinkers who make an eventual move to the floor to songs from both the Top 40 and college radio’s best toe-tappers. Always free, Dirt Bag is the most casual of the nights, happening every first Thursday as it has since spring of 2010.
For the North-siders, St. Johns’ Southern-themed the Fixin To' hosts a gay gathering called Sweet Tea on the same night. There’s not as much dancing as there is lackadaisical bourbon drinking and board games—how Southern.
The fresh, new Deep Cuts touts itself as “the dance party for the music enthusiast,” playing indie and electro at Rotture (315 SE 3rd Ave.) every first Friday, hosted by DJs Kasio Smashio and Bruce LaBruiser. The dancing is balanced with mingling and conversation, so fans of listening can appreciate the night even if they don’t feel like moving much.
In March, Roy G Biv’s Bent celebrated its second anniversary at the Foggy Notion. A smaller but similar, largely non-male crowd gathers there every second Friday.
The most mixed crowd in town seems to be Blow Pony, though recent scuffles over promoters and their use of the word “tranny” for an event seems to have separated some from the pack. The party has been around for four years and takes over both Rotture and Branx the third Friday of every month. The crowd is heavy on the drag and dress-up.
Dressing for the theme will only make your experience more fun at Mrs., now locked into an every-second-Saturday spot at Mississippi Studios. The party lets attendees vote on the next month’s theme; recent examples include Twin Peaks, “Let’s Get Physical” and Lisa Frank. Donning a neon leotard and leg warmers ensures that photo-booth shots from this party will always stand out from the rest. The music matches the theme.
Another party with music as its guiding force is Sugar Town, a soul- and funk-focused night with songs from the ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s from DJ Action Slacks. It’s hard not to notice how white Portland is when you’re at a party like this. Sugar Town had some troubles finding a home after the Saratoga Bar closed for renovations, but a one-off at the Spare Room was successful and it seems to have found a new home at the Foggy Notion.
Portland’s ever-evolving LGBTQ scene has shifted from specific dyke nights and boy-only events to be all-inclusive queer, which means there are more options than ever. It’s possible the dance-night landscape will eventually be spread too thin. That all depends on how long each party lasts and who will be the last ones dancing.