As one of the big cities in the West, Portland is chock-full of things to do. There are countless clubs, bars, and events going on around town (OregonLive came up with nearly 300 listings for clubs and bars). Sadly, most of the quality entertainment in the city is restricted to people over the age of 21. That leaves the college students in the 18-20 age bracket (this writer included) in a frustrating void.
For every single event or thing that a minor can do in Portland, there are three to five other (and usually better) things that over 21-ers can do. For example, on the weekends, people love to get together and go dancing. Whether it’s retro, techno or ballroom, being 21 definitely has its advantages. Over 21-ers have choice after choice after choice for weekend dance venues. Popular club selections include The Lotus, one of the oldest and most happening clubs in town, and the mega-retro joint Polly Esther’s.
Looking at the Portland CitySearch Web site, only three nightclubs popped up for the all-ages category. Klub Z, the all-ages, alcohol-free diversity nightclub was one of them. The second listed was the Viscount Ballroom, which I know for a fact is NOT all-ages. The Viscount’s Web site even confirms that only drinking-age people may enter. The Chinese Tea House is the third listed “all-ages nightclub,” which I know nothing about. It looks like it’s a good place to catch some live music. So really, the authority on events in Portland only recognizes two clubs.
Of course, we can’t forget the ever-popular underage hangout UpFront/FX, where people 18 and up dance the night away (right next door to a bar they cannot enter). At UpFront, countless 18-20 year-olds cram themselves into a little space while getting their groove on. At the refreshment table one may find water, an assortment of soft drinks and pencils and paper for when you score some digits. UpFront, however, is thoroughly exhausted among the 18-20 age bracket.
For an alternative, The House of Grooves just opened on Northwest 13th (off of Burnside), bringing hip-hop dance music to the populace. Friday nights are for 18 and over, and Saturday nights are for the big kids. We can’t forget to mention The Quest, where you can rub shoulders with 16-year-olds, and the eighth graders with fake IDs.
Then there’s the other kind of dancing – ballroom dancing. The older people have some excellent choices yet again, including the gorgeous Viscount Ballroom. The under-21 crowd has the Crystal Ballroom (famous for swing dancing lessons), and the Temple Ballroom. The Crystal Ballroom isn’t always friendly to minors, because they don’t let under 21-ers in for some really cool concerts (Hit Explosion and Super Diamond). Of course, there’s the Smith Center Ballroom right here at PSU where the student organizations host dances and concerts (always all-ages).
For live concerts, there are places all over town. The older people get places like Satyricon. Some places like the Roseland and the Pine Street Theater are very minor-friendly. There will be 18 all-ages concerts between now and the beginning of fall term at the Roseland Theater & Grill. The Roseland is pretty minor-friendly, with only 12 out of the 30 concerts for over 21-ers. Their lineup isn’t bad either, with bands such as Our Lady Peace making their way through the West.
A good place to go for weekend entertainment is the Clinton Street Theatre. Every Friday and Saturday night at midnight, the theater hosts the longest-running Rocky Horror Picture Show in the country. It’s an interactive experience, so be prepared! The Clinton Street Theatre also offers many independent and original movies.
If you want the entertaining dining atmosphere, swing on over to Sylvia’s (5115 NW Sandy Blvd.) for some good Italian food and even better musical theater performances by the restaurant’s staff.