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July 31st, 2013 MATTHEW KORFHAGE | Bar Reviews
 

Harlem: Central Renaissance

clublist_harlem_3939HARLEM - IMAGE: nataliebehring.com

Harlem (220 SW Ankeny St.) first opened as a hip-hop speakeasy that served deep-fried hot dogs out of its front window. The beats there shook the quieter acts next door at Valentine’s into fits, and girls with door-knocker earrings formed lines halfway to the oyster bar on high-profile nights. It closed almost immediately. The new version, which reopened in May minus one owner, is more under the radar, a rough-around-the-edges DJ boutique incongruous in Portland but reminiscent of places in Chicago, New York and Detroit. As opposed to previous tenant Central, there are no fancy cocktails—notwithstanding a six-deep selection of flavored Stoli. The booze selection is basic, the mostly domestic beer selection even more so. But the tiny space hidden behind Koi Fusion boasts one of the deeper DJ rosters in the city and one of the deeper social Rolodexes among the indie-EDM/hip-hop party set, with a style-conscious crowd that looks more big-city than small-city. A huge mural by New York artist-DJ John P. Dessereau (part owner of the bar) shows a man seemingly being devoured by a psychedelic turkey. The Wave::Vibe night on Tuesdays, with DJs Tyler Tastemaker and Beyonda, looks particularly promising. This is, perhaps, the Harlem that Bill Clinton moved into, smiling, waving to the crowds, thinking the whole time about all that nookie he was going to get on private planes. 

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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