In a very white city without a single bar dedicated to ladies who love ladies, the most-welcomed surprise is that Portland clubs offer some great parties for queer women of color. You’re guaranteed a good time at these monthly LGBTQ events where folks dance till they’re sweaty and get weird together. Usually lined up in alternating weeks throughout the month, each one is its own world.
Lez Do It
832 N Killingsworth St
This inclusive event—which is specifically for “all dykes, and all of the amazing people who love them”—reminds me of something out of NYC or LA, except people here actually dance. Lez Do It’s crowd is cool, casual, and diverse. Resident DJs Chelsea Starr and Mr. Charming provide hits that get everyone on the dance floor, and guest DJs make it so that the music never gets repetitive. Its venue, Killingsworth Dynasty, is industrial chic, with wooden bars and tables, steel details, and dim ambient light. Plus, because Portland requires all venues that serve alcohol to also serve food, patrons get to enjoy their excellent vegan menu. The bartenders are the sweetest, so be nice and tip well. Pro tip: It can get really packed and stuffy. Look for the fan in the open space by the DJ booth and make it your best friend.
832 N Killingsworth St
This hip-hop party for QTPOC and all their friends also takes place at Killingsworth Dynasty, but there’s a completely different vibe. The best part about CAKE is that it provides a safe space for those of us who need a break from the whiteness of this city and want to feel at home with family. The warmness and intimacy of the venue mixed with the chillness of all the people who attend is the perfect combination for a great night. The music is always on point, ranging from old school to today’s trap. You will want to dance, and you will connect with someone—if not everyone—on the dance floor. Pro tip: Talk to people. It might be a little tough with the music on the dance floor, but if you’re at the communal table enjoying the fries, make a move! You’re most likely to meet your new best friend—or more—here.
The best part about CAKE is that it provides a safe space for those of us who need a break from the whiteness of this city and want to feel at home with family.
1001 SE Morrison St
Brought to us by CAKE and Ante Up PDX, SLAY is the ultimate LGBTQ+ POC dance party for those who are looking for a club vibe. Unlike the other events on this list, the venue, Holocene, is huge, giving it that warehouse-party feel. The warehouse’s setup overlooking the sunken dance floor will draw you into the huge crowd, but there’s also a room with a stage for those who like to perform their best Lemonade routine. SLAY, like every event on this list, is inclusive and open to everyone, which makes for a night filled with tons of dancing, sweating, and bumping into people. The crowd is especially welcoming to solo dancers who just want to get down with new folks. Pro tip: Skip the coat check if you don’t like waiting in lines to leave, and wear your lightest outfit.
Judy on Duty
High Water Mark Lounge
6800 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Come as you are, because Judy on Duty is where “Keep Portland Weird” lives. Everyone dances like no one’s watching and dresses however the hell they want. Each event celebrates a different Judy—a badass, creative queer community member who performs, hosts, or DJs, or sometimes is just being highlighted. A recent Judy on Duty was a benefit for a Judy who was having a baby. The music here is unlike any other on this list because resident DJ Troubled Youth and all guest DJs come prepared to make you shake your ass all night long. You can expect a different sound every month, with the DJs setting the tone. You’ll be hot here, so join everyone else in removing unnecessary clothing items in the almost pitch-dark back room. Then cool off on the backyard patio and meet a few folks. Pro tip: Portlanders have a propensity for forming lines at bars that I still don’t understand. Judy on Duty’s lines are unprecedentedly long, so pregame and take a cab.