With dozens of microbreweries and hundreds of bars, Portland’s nightlife would seem to brim with alcohol-related activities. But in reality, it’s the energy of the city’s residents that fuels evenings all over town. Wielding a “go-out-and-play” attitude, this social, after-work set packs restaurants, clubs, theaters and performance halls all over town to catch up with friends and make new ones.
Every night of the week — not just on weekdays — happy hour generally gets the party started. Almost every establishment in town has one, so finding the best depends on where you are and what you want to eat (or drink). For example, Departure has daily happy hour specials running from 4-6 p.m., mixing inexpensive, inventive Asian cuisine with equally mouthwatering views of the city’s downtown.
Karaoke is a popular way to keep the good times going, and from dive bars to private boxes, there are no bad places to sing — only bad singers. Serving tropical drinks and piles of Hawaiian food, The Alibi Tiki Lounge will make you feel like you’re on an island vacation just long enough to belt out some Elvis in front of the packed house. The Ambassador Restaurant & Lounge, meanwhile, embraces everything that a Chinese food restaurant-cum-karaoke bar should be, and raises the bar with a light-up stage and a fog machine.
If you’ve ever wished you could front a real, live rock band, Karaoke from Hell is for you. Hosted by Voodoo Doughnut co-founder Tres Shannon, the band’s repertoire includes 600 songs, and they play twice a week at clubs like Dante’s and the Spare Room. Rather keep your singing voice between friends? Voicebox can accommodate up to 20 members of your entourage with pay-by-the-hour private suites at its Northwest and Central Eastside locations.
When it comes to professional music, Portland has all sorts of options. The Crystal Ballroom and Roseland Theater attract all genres of current and pop musical acts to Portland’s downtown, while the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall hits the classics by hosting performances by the Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera and Oregon Ballet Theatre. Recording its popular public radio program in front of Portland audiences, Live Wire stitches together sketch comedy, music and confessionals in a variety show format.
Comedy & More
Meanwhile, Helium Comedy Club is all about the punchlines, drawing everyone from touring, a-list professionals to emerging local talent to its stage. The nightly shows at Darcelle XV are also good for a laugh, but the world famous female impersonators take their art very seriously, as their Las Vegas-style cabaret has been entertaining Portland for nearly 40 years.
Free Live Music and Comedy in Portland
Discover a new favorite comic or musician at Portland's free concerts and comedy nights, scattered across the city and scheduled throughout the week.
Portland’s musical offerings are diverse as the city itself, with options including indie rock, jazz, classical, pop and more.
All Jane Comedy Festival
Portland's five-day comedy festival showcases nearly 50 female comedians each October.
Portland has no shortage of LGBTQ-owned and -friendly bars and clubs. Whether you're looking for a relaxing night with friends, a high-energy dance party or a drag show, Portland delivers.
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.