Nicolai Street Clubhouse

2460 NW 24th Ave., 227-5384, 10-2:30 am Monday-Friday, 1 pm-2:30 am Saturday.

Nicolai Street Clubhouse is perhaps the best longshoremen's bar in Portland. Situated in a gritty section of Northwest, its tides ebb and flow with the shift changes of the union men who work the docks at the Port of Portland and come here for free popcorn, a turn on the shuffleboard table and a loud argument about who was the best defensive end ever to play the game. But also, when the dancers feel like it, there's a show at the stage situated a scant few feet from the bar. Stage times are seemingly at will, and so the boards may be empty for 20 minutes, then occupied in back-to-back shifts. The dancers' ages are also intermittent: The performers seem to be either under 23 or over 30. It is, by all appearances, the sort of club where dancers either start their careers or casually extend them into perpetuity. One of the dancers, in fact, does not even dance. She spends an entire song crouched at the rail, topless, chatting up a man who seems to have a lot to say. She nods, politely, and smiles. After all, it's been a long day on the docks. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Happy hour: 2-6 pm Monday-Saturday. Draft beer 50 cents off.
Entertainment: Pool, shuffleboard, dancers.