This East Portland Spot Is Maybe the Coolest Nightclub in Portland—Without Serving a Single Drink

Baby, pass the hookah.

Wanna make something v tite?

Why not try banning it?

There's probably a doctoral dissertation in the contemporary phenomenon of the hookah lounge club scene, which is a hot topic from Tampa to Seattle, where authorities are trying to Footloose 'em out of existence.

Maybe it's the ever-increasing ghettoization of tobacco (in Portland you can't even smoke in a park), or maybe it's the rise of vaping (it introduces people to the wonders of nicotine with none of the coughing or stank), or maybe it's the nation's generalized Islamophobia (see: Trump, Donald), but the hippest nightspots in America don't even have booze right now.

And so it is in East Portland. You can find the international youth trend—otherwise unknown in this city—out on Deep Powell.

Inside 18-and-up club Lux Hookah Lounge, you'll see a scene like something out of a Tyga video.

This is a neighborhood where the parking lots are dusty gravel and the bewildered old neighbor men walk by either limping terribly or with big German shepherds on rope leashes while a flossed-out Dodge Viper rolls up, attracting every single dude in the parking lot to run up on the car all smiles.

(Thomas Teal) (Thomas Teal)

But past the bouncer who pats you down and the fashionably uninterested female clerk charging a cover via Square, you find a club with young people of all colors and creeds dancing to hip-hop of all vintages—DMX for the fellas, Brandon Beal's "Twerk It Like Miley" for the ladies. The front room is full of dancing, while the quiet back room hosts a halfhearted pool game. There's even that one dude in the couch section who doesn't take the hookah hose out of his mouth while playing a soccer video game. For at least an hour.

(Thomas Teal) (Thomas Teal)
(Thomas Teal) (Thomas Teal)

Lux was exceptionally chill, but this type of club is catching attention nationwide, cracked down on because of associations with gang violence. Baltimore limited hookah-bar hours after a rash of shootings. Seattle targeted its dozen hookah clubs after shootings. And after a shooting near Lux—and also near several other bars—on New Year's Eve, news and police reports all mentioned the fight's nearness to the hookah club.

In Europe, Islamophobia has marginalized both Muslims and hookah culture. Portland can and should do better. Tobacco kills it.

GO: Lux Hookah Lounge, 12436 SE Powell Blvd., 503-208-2629,

(Christine Dong)

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