Uh! Get off on a Good Foot

James Brown and his contemporaries had a good idea back in the day. They wondered: Why can’t people be cool, and real to each other? You know, go out and have a good time and leave the bullshit fronts, stereotypes and bad attitudes back at home and get down. People need to get off on the good foot.

That idea is what Good Foot owners Neil Leeborg and GT Meili had in mind when they opened their new lounge on Southeast 28th and Stark.

“We wanted a comfortable place for everyone to come and be themselves,” the mellow and friendly Leeborg told me.

They have purposely chosen not to advertise so as to get a word-of-mouth buzz going. They hope all kinds of people who want to kick it and “get off on the good foot” will invite their friends to do so as well.

Judging by the decent Wednesday night crowd it’s working. This may be because there are no bad words to be spread.

Stepping in I was greeted by art on the walls, crescent-shaped blond-colored squishy banquets with tables and chairs and a 15 or so stool bar. As eyes adjust to the setting, an enormous blond wood dance floor appears lined with mirrors, flanked by blood red felt pool tables and more banquet and table seating.

A lit candle on every table provides just the right amount of light and makes this a damn comfortable place. There are over 40 paintings on the walls by a neighbor named Jason Brown. I think some of them compliment the room very well, and vice versa. Momentarily, as if he knew people were talking about his babies, Jason Brown came in, offered me a cigarette and agreed.

Libations currently offered at the Good Foot are a good selection of draft beers, a larger selection of bottles and some wine. The draft beers include a Wolaver’s organic, Anderson Valley Amber, Hales Cream Ale and others on nitro taps, some local micros, and yes, PBR.

The beer selection is supposed to change weekly and all the non-imported micros are three bucks. Don’t expect liquor anytime too soon.

The Good Foot occupies a space dubbed a “haunted house” by the OLCC, meaning there have been so many problems with past tenants the commission was reluctant to even offer Leeborg and Meili their temporary license.

The last time I stepped into the place it was a gay bar, mostly lesbian and pretty unkempt. Leeborg said they spent a lot of time and back-breaking labor fixing the “shithole” up as swank as it is. Dozens of years ago the place was a strip club, with a rack framing the nice wood dance floor.

This explains the allure of the huge floor. It is placed where the whole room can see and mirrors border two sides of it. Everybody loves mirrors, yes? The joys of watching one’s self get off on a good foot in a mirror are immeasurable.

The floor is big enough to hold 50 people. After the visions of ’70s strippers reluctantly faded from my mind, visions of the ultimate dance party took their place. I may have started to drool then as Leeborg told me that upstairs was a huge open space with an old wood dance floor twice as big. It sits under vaulted ceilings in front of a huge stage.

The venue won’t blossom any time soon since it is a “haunted house” and there have been neighborhood noise complaints everytime the upstairs is used. It may be turned into a pool hall though.

The Good Foot will try to entertain. They admittedly aren’t going to book super loud bands but are willing to host local talent on Fridays and Saturdays. Wednesdays will occassionally have a jazz combo and every Thursday local songwriter extraordinaire Pete Krebs hosts a jam with fellow musician Billy Kennedy and guests.

They have had DJs on some Fridays and may book more of those. They have African-rooted act Chata Addy booked and want to do an eclectic variety of music that won’t be too loud. Tonight should be a good show with locals the Holy Sons and the Places.

I’ve never heard the Holy Sons but they are interesting and talented enough to even improvise a little, according to the dreadlocked James, who comes down often from deep Northeast to toast a few. James was one of a few punks hanging out and drinking PBR on Wednesday. There were also other people of various incarnations keeping the place casual and easy going.

The Good Foot looks swank, like a hipster joint, but it is actually an open and down-to-earth spot for all peoples to get off on the good foot. It’s the kind of place that Portland needs to remain metropolitan but avoid the bullshit elitism and shallow trendiness that gets people off on a bad foot.

The tavern is open every night from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. A limited menu may appear in the near future. It’s located at 2845 S.E. Stark Street. (503) 239-9292.