I think we can all agree that daytime is for chumps, and that nighttime is where it’s at. Getting weird in Portland in the day can sometimes seem like a chore, but, luckily, if you’re able to avoid the Tom Waits-esque siren song of utter hellholes like Cuda Beach Club and Dig a Pony, there’s a bunch of weird fun to be had at night.
Theater of the rind
There are a handful of food carts in this city brave enough to stay open right up until the bars close. At the moment, Doner Haus on Mississippi is the main one that comes to mind.
Needless to say, these monuments to the nocturnal are fascinating locales where hard truths and real insight into the human condition can be overslurred.
So try parking yourself around a late-night food cart to catch a glimpse of the truest human drama. At the very least it’s dinner and movie.
Let’s rap about Goth Narnia
Listen, I could blow some smoke up your ass to try and convince you that Voodoo Doughnut is still cool and edgy, that buying a pastry shaped like a dick and posting your hoard on Instagram is a proper, strange way to spend a night. But I like you, so I’m not going to do that.
If you want to have a weird night in Portland you’re going to have to go off the grid. Get off Google Maps, throw your five-star Yelp reviews in the creek, and for goodness sake stop checking into places on Foursquare, you dweeb. Go outside and get into some weird shit.
That’s how I found Goth Narnia.
Goth Narnia is definitely not the name of a club I visited in Portland in ’08, but it feels apt because I have never been able to find the club again. Led on by a group of very suspect people I am not longer associated with, it would be reasonable to assume that I was in an altered state when I found Goth Narnia. Or, should I say, when Goth Narnia found me.
From what I remember of Goth Narnia, it was in the second floor of a building and definitely in Portland. Probably. The dance floor itself was inexplicably school-gymnasium large, and the drone of The Cure brought everyone out of their seats for a proper shuffle. There was an ironic disco ball and an old fog machine that I admired for its tenacity and dedication.
The events that transpired in Goth Narnia have been lost to time, but it’s safe to say there was ample dancing and attempted conversation with the Victorian denizens, though I was careful not to eat the food of the dead. We left when a guy in a rabbit mask started breakdancing.
Weird memories like this don’t come from curated lists or aggregated ratings. You’ve got to get out there and let the flow of the night take you. I might never be able to find Goth Narnia again, but it lives on in my heart and in my dreams.
Where the sidewalk ends
If there is a center to Portland, not a geographical one but an ideal one, it’s probably Mill Ends Park. The smallest park in the world, Mill Ends has taken on many forms since it was officially recognized as the smallest park in 1971.
You might have missed the park in passing since it’s on an island in the middle of Naito, right off Taylor, but there’s an equal chance that you just didn’t notice it because your night wasn’t over yet.
Mill Ends practically beckons for selfies. It’s just that right combination of dangerous and appealing—it sits in the middle of a busy intersection and the curio aspect of a very tiny tree is nigh irresistible to the intoxicated.
Mill Ends won’t make you night weirder, but if you find yourself hazily admiring this diminutive municipal landscape then you can rest assured that your night got weird somewhere along the way.