Portland may be best known for its indie music, but with a wide variety of dance clubs, the city has a rhythm that’ll get just about anyone moving.
Dance Clubs by Neighborhood
Portland’s densest concentration of dance clubs is in the Old Town Chinatown nightlife district. Bars like Dirty Nightclub and the Southern-themed Dixie Tavern are at the epicenter. Gay nightclub CC Slaughters boasts a live DJ seven nights a week; Wednesdays are all-request dance nights.
Running everything from DJ sets to local performers, Holocene has mixed music with visuals for a decade-plus, turning an old auto-parts warehouse into a 5,000-square-foot temple to art and audio. Its inner southeast Portland neighbor 45 East also rocks a converted industrial space, with an upstairs lounge and downstairs dance floor hosting frequent EDM shows.
Across town, The Goodfoot Lounge is where locals go for laid-back nights of festival-style stomping on the hardwood dance floor. Great for small music and big laughs, the two-level dance hall plays everything from funk to dub step, so long as it gets the crowd moving.
The big basement dance floor at the log-cabin themed Doug Fir Lounge gets plenty of traffic on its electro-pop and hip-hop nights, though most of the time the club stays true to the city’s indie rock ways with live performances.
Aztec Willies in Northeast Portland’s Lloyd neighborhood is a go-to for salsa and Latin grooves, with different offerings nearly every night. Church, an ironic Roman Catholic-themed bar, brings live music and DJ sets in a cozy space on Sandy Boulevard.
Dance Clubs by Style
On Tuesday nights the Bossanova takes things down a notch by offering soulful, sultry blues music. Stop by before the dance for a free introductory lesson hosted by the Portland Blues and Jazz Dance Society. There’s no partner required, which is perfect if you’re flying solo. If not, enjoy cuddling up to your sweetie in a close embrace and swaying the night away.
It doesn’t get more honky-tonk than Bushwackers, the premier spot for bass-thumping, foot-stomping country dance. Show off your two-step, boogie with the line dancers or waltz around the perimeter of the Texas-sized dance floor at this venue in Tualatin, 20 minutes south of downtown Portland. Belt buckles and cowboy boots aren’t required, but you might want to make room in your luggage, just in case.
A horror-themed bar complete with a child-sized coffin as decoration? Yep, Portland has that. Get your goth on at The Coffin Club (previously known as Lovecraft Bar) where Thursday is the darkest night of the week, thanks to DJ Carrion’s steady stream of industrial and darkwave.
Located on the second floor of the iconic McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, Lola’s Room plays host to Portland’s favorite dance party, ‘80s Video Dance Attack. Every Friday night, break out your scrunchies and lace up your high-top Chucks to relive MTV’s heyday and bop your head to your favorite throwbacks. Classic music videos are projected across giant screens, so it’s a lot like when you used to dance along with Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted Slave” in your living room (but with less carpet burn). Prefer songs and styles from the following decade? Dance to hits by Nirvana and Snoop Dog at “Comes As You Are: 90s Dance Flashback” on Saturday nights.
Portland has one of the largest Argentine tango communities in North America, with studios offering lessons, practicas and milongas (social dances) almost every night of the week. At the heart of the scene is the Tango Berretin. Owned by world-renowned tango instructor Alex Krebs, this intimate dance hall injects the old-world charm of dimly lit Spanish salons and a tango’s overt sensuality. The popular Saturday night milonga is prefaced with a beginner lesson, and frequently hosts live music.
Trio Club is a neon beacon that beckons night owls hungry for a slice of Miami’s nightclub vibe. It looks a bit out of place in Portland, but for fans of salsa, it feels like home. With three different dance floors and DJs spinning everything from traditional mambo to Latin EDM, the Trio Club’s Salsa Sunday is sure to keep you shimmying into the wee hours of Monday morning. (The party goes ‘til 4 a.m.!)
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