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CC Slaughters, Portland, Oregon
Photos of gay bars, nightclubs, lounges, cabarets, and other nightlife options in the Northwest, including Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington
One of Old Town Portland's long-running stalwarts in the arena of gay nightlife, C.C. Slaughters (219 NW Davis St., 503-248-9135)is actually two bars in one - the main nightclub, CC Slaughters is a dark, rambling space with a small but potent dance floor, loud music, and a fun, mixed crowd of revelers - some of the city's best DJs spin tunes here. Adjacent, the glam Rainbow Room Lounge is a mod, elegant space that's perfect for sipping a sophisticated cocktail and carrying on a conversation. CC's has no cover charge except for occasional special events and parties.
CC Slaughters is especially popular midweek for dancing, and there's also a popular Sunday T-Dance. The crowd tends toward male, 20s and 30s, and fairly flirty and fun. That being said, women and straights are more than cheerfully welcomed. In the same area are Hobo...'s and Darcelle XV Showplace, the famed drag lounge.Continue to 2 of 21 below.
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Mad Myrna's, Anchorage, Alaska
The largest and most popular gay entertainment complex in Alaska, Mad Myrna's (530 E. 5th Ave., 907-276-9762) is right in downtown Anchorage, just a 10-minute walk east of the 5th Avenue Mall (and a few doors from the Anchorage Identity Gay & Lesbian Community Center). Although there's a big entry sign (pictured here) on 5th Avenue, you enter the club through a door in the back, where there's also a parking lot. Inside you'll find pool tables and a long bar on the left, and a good-size dance floor to the right. Of the city's three gay bars, Mad Myrna's has the biggest following, drawing a mix of men and women of all ages, plus quite a few straight friends of the community. Theme nights include country line dancing on Wednesdays, Divas drag variety show on Fridays, and frequent fund-raising events for the local GLBT community. It also hosts occasional events thrown by The Last Frontier Men's Club, a nonprofit social club catering to Alaska's leather,... bear, uniform, and cowboy community.
The bar is just a couple of doors east of another downtown establishment with a moderately gay following, the Kodiak Bar and Grill, a laid-back tavern that also serves Mexican food. A couple of blocks north, you'll also find the city's other gay bar, The Raven, a low-keyed neighborhood bar.Continue to 3 of 21 below.
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Aalto Lounge, Portland, Oregon
In the vibrant Belmont Street area of eastern Portland, the Aalto Lounge (3356 S.E. Belmont St., 503-235-6041) is one of several gay-friendly but mixed hangouts (i.e., the Side Street Tavern, Stumptown Coffee) in this part of town catering to a decidedly artsy, singularly unconventional crowd. The bar takes its name and aesthetica inspiration from Finnish designer Alvar Aalto, its interior feeling very minimalist and relaxed - Sunday nights have an especially strong GLBT following. An excellent spot to meet a friend for a glass of wine or a pint of hefeweizen before dinner along nearby Hawthorne Boulevard, or perhaps pre-clubbing downtown.Continue to 4 of 21 below.
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Steam Bathhouse, Portland, Oregon
Smartly and attractively designed Steam Portland (2885 N.E. Sandy Blvd., 503-736-9999) is one of the most inviting gay saunas in the country. This 24/7 private club welcomes out-of-towners and is the only gay bathhouse in the city - it's on the East Side, fairly near the Hollywood and Lloyd Center neighborhoods, and just a 10-minute drive from downtown (either take the Burnside Bridge and follow Burnside until it becomes Sandy, or take Exit 1 or 2 from I-84). This low-slung, contemporary building - the back of which you can see from I-84 - is in a fairly quiet, nondescript mixed industrial/residential neighborhood. It's a safe area, and there's plenty of well-lighted parking on the street.
As bathhouses go, Steam is mid-sized, which works for a city Portland's size - it tends to feel just busy and crowded enough on weekends, but like many saunas, the crowds vary greatly during the week. Usually you'll find a good mix of guys in their 30s and 40s, with a decent... smattering of younger and older men, too. The vibe is relaxed and low-keyed, and the interior is beautifully designed, with a somewhat industrial-looking aesthetic, high ceilings, soft lighting (private rooms have dimmer switches), and a fantastic steam room - typically the most popular part of the club. There are ample supplies of condoms and lube, and in warm weather you can lie out on the expansive, enclosed sundeck.
If you're visiting just once, there's a $5 membership (it's just $25 for a year), and then rates range from $10 to $13 (depending on the day) for basic lockers to anywhere between $17 and $34 for rooms, the most expensive being deluxe doubles with video. Various student and military specials are offered, as well as certain weekday deals. A great facility, all in all.
In 2012, Portland's fans of cruising enjoyed the opening of a new gay sex club and bathhouse, Hawks (234 S.E. Grand Ave., at S.E. Ash St., 503-946-8659), which opened just across the Burnside Bridge from downtown in the Inner Southeast neighborhood. Opened by the same team behind the popular gay sauna Hawks in Las Vegas, this well-kept and attractive facility is making a concerted effort to attract aficionados of S&M, group sex, and role-playing. There are three slings, glory-hole rooms, an orgy area, a water sports area, fisting parties, bear events, and other creative elements. You'll find lockers, a cedar-paneled sauna, a steam room, and an industrial vibe that's something of a throwback to classic gay sex clubs of yore, along with a mazelike layout.
Rates at Hawk's are similar to those of Steam ($5 membership for onetime visit, or $25 for a year), plus locker rates of $10 on weekdays and $13 on weekends. Rooms are just $15 to $18, but they're also on the small side.Continue to 5 of 21 below.
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C.C. Attle's, Seattle, Washington
A friendly, no-attitude neighborhood gay bar with a particularly loyal following among bears and cubs, C.C. Attle's (1501 E. Madison St.) opened in the early '90s and has, along with its casual restaurant Cadillac Grill, been a fixture of Capitol Hill's gay cruise seen ever since. Dinner (simple, stick-to-your-rib pub fare - burgers, turkey melts, chicken-fried steak) is served nightly, and there's also brunch available on weekends throughout the afternoon.
C.C.'s is home to the Northwest Bears and stages an official "bear night" the first Saturday of each month, but you'll always find a pretty bearish bunch here, tending toward age 35 and up. The bar used to be affiliated with C.C. Slaughter's in Portland, but I don't believe this is the case any longer - the two bars aren't particularly similar in clientele or theme, other than both being gay clubs.Continue to 6 of 21 below.
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Rainbow Room Lounge, Portland, Oregon
The smaller and quieter side bar attached to one of Portland's hottest gay club, CC Slaughter's, the stylish Rainbow Room Lounge (219 N.W. Davis St., 503-248-9135) offers an elegant alternative to the city's generally more old-school and somewhat dive-y gay nightlife options. When you've been dancing all night down the hall in CC's, or you've met a cute reveler there and are looking to have a conversation, Rainbow Room makes for the perfect venue. The lighting is soft except for the sleekly back-lit bar, and there's comfy lounge seating throughout this space occupying a former storefront on the corner of Northwest Davis Street and 3rd Avenue.
The Rainbow Room also serves light bar food - cheese plates, calamari, fish-and-chips, buffalo wings, and the like. The drinks menu is one of the best of any gay establishment in town, with a decent list of wines and beers.Continue to 7 of 21 below.
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Darcelle XV Showplace, Portland, Oregon
"That's NO lady...That's Darcelle XV and Company." Some say Darcelle and her merry, naughty cast of voluptious cohorts have been entertaining Portlanders since the Truman administration. There's sketchy evidence that Darcelle arrived in Portland with Lewis and Clark. In fact, Darcelle XV, a hammy over-the-top performer with self-effacing wit and a good heart (she's raised huge sums of money for local charities) has been a fixture in Portland's gay scene since 1967. Roughly 10 performers make up the cast at this longtime favorite hangout, where zany, off-color Vegas-style revue shows are presented Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. No tour of the city's lively downtown gay circuit is complete without a visit here. Darcelle is at 208 N.W. 3rd Ave. (503-222-5338), in Old Town, right by a couple of other favorite gay nightspots, C.C. Slaughter's and Hobo's.Continue to 8 of 21 below.
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Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, Oregon
A darling among Portland's many hip music clubs, the retro-chic and gay-popular (though predominantly hetero) Doug Fir Lounge and Restaurant (830 E. Burnside St., 503-231-WOOD) is attached to the similarly hipster-infested Jupiter Hotel, several blocks east of Burnside Bridge. The dark and sexy basement lounge presents many of the nation's top alternative acts, including quite a few queer favorites (Bob Mould, Bitch & The Exciting Conclusion, Ferron, and plenty of others). Upstairs, the restaurant serves extremely tasty mod-American fare.Continue to 9 of 21 below.
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Mint/820, Portland, Oregon
Openly gay mixologist Lucy Brennan, the charming owner of Mint Bistro and the adjacent 820 Lounge, has become celebrated internationally for her distinctive cocktail concoctions, from the Bella (blackberry puree, vodka and lemo-lime served in a sugared martini glass) to the strangely delicious Avocado Daiquiri. The native of London, England has even written a cocktail recipe book, Hip Sips.
Here at her restaurant-bar complex in Portland's up-and-coming Eliot neighborhood (on the east side of the Willamette River, midway between the Alberta Arts District and trendy East Burnside's restaurants and bars, and also close to the Mississippi Avenue Arts District), you'll encounter a mixed crowd of scenesters and bon vivants enjoying superb food and drink. The kitchen's well-crafted global cuisine includes pork-tenderloin satay with a peanut-coconut dipping sauce, and buffalo rib-eye with horseradish demi-glace, white-bean puree, and sauteed braising greens.Continue to 10 of 21 below.
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Irv's Bar, Spokane, Washington
Although it doesn't specifically identify as a gay establishment, Irv's Bar (415 W. Sprague Ave., just off N. Washington St., 509-624-4450) warmly welcomes a mixed bunch of gays, lesbians, straights, and everybody in between, making it an enjoyable spot for mingling or cocktails in the heart of downtown Spokane. What looks like a relatively compact bar from the street is actually an expansive space with several areas to hang out, including a dance floor, lounge (popular for karaoke), game room (with pool tables and pinball), and more - it's also right beside the LGBT-popular Satellite Diner, and an easy walk from downtown hotels and Spokane's long-running Dempsey's Brass Rail gay nightclub.Continue to 12 of 21 below.
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Scandals, Portland, Oregon
With a refreshingly cheesy name that hints at its age (it opened in a different space along Stark Street in 1979), Scandals (1125 Stark St., 503-227-5887) moved into a prettier space a few years back and morphed from semi-tragically sullen locals joint to genuinely festive and friendly video cruise bar. It's a relatively intimate spot with a friendly staff, and the crowds here range from sparse early in the week to packed to the rafters on weekends. It's a still a notch below trendy, which means that although you will find plenty of cute guys in here of all ages, you rarely will encounter attitude. A good bet after-work or for last call. Expect plenty of back-and-forth among Scandals and its neighbors, the Roxy Diner and Boxxes.Continue to 13 of 21 below.
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The Raven, Anchorage, Alaska
A low-keyed gay bar just a couple of blocks north of the other main gay hangout in Anchorage, Mad Myrna's, the Raven (708 E. 4th Ave., 907-276-9672) has a popular following with the city's bear and leather scene (including members of Anchorage's leather men's club, the Last Frontier).Continue to 14 of 21 below.
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Steamworks Bathhouse, Seattle, Washington
For many years called Club Seattle, the Steamworks Seattle bathhouse (1520 Summit Ave., 206-388-4818) in the city's gay-popular Capitol Hill neighborhood is one of two such venues in the city (there's also a gay sex club). This is part of the well-reputed chain of Steamworks bathhouses, which has additional locales in Chicago, Berkeley, Toronto, and Vancouver. Of the two gay bathhouses in town, Steamworks has a more diverse following - pretty much all types of cruisy men frequent this one, from younger club kids to older guys. That being said, for the most part, the Seattle branch of Steamworks isn't as popular as the others, which is perhaps just a reflection of sex-clubbing being a little less in vogue in Seattle than in the other places. Steamworks Seattle is open 24/7.
The city's other bathhouse, Club Z, is just a few blocks away at 1117 Pike Street. This three-story facility tends to draw more bears and guys over 40, and some feel you're apt to encounter a bit... less attitude here than at Steamworks, if not necessarily among staff than among other patrons. Also, the rates at Club Z are slightly lower than at Steamworks.Continue to 15 of 21 below.
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Silverado, Portland, Oregon
The lovably racy and slightly scandalous Silverado (318 S.W. 3rd Ave., 503-224-4493) has been a stalwart of Portland gay nightlife for many years, and it's become even more popular since it moved to a much larger and more impressive downtown space a 10-minute walk from its former Stark Street location (which still has a couple of popular gay bars). The bar has two sections: you enter into the main club, where a few hunky (and generally quite hung) strippers dance (they're permitted to strip down completely naked in Portland) on stage and in a small cage to one side. This room has two levels - head up the stairs, and a loft-style bar area looks down at the dancers, along with the hordes of guys ogling them. It's usually pretty packed in here on weekends, and even on weekdays this is one of the better-attended gay hangouts in the city, drawing not only guys who love to watch guys dance, but also plenty of others (women and tolerant heteros are perfectly welcome).
The main room... leads to a small, inviting patio area that's a bit quieter and is also a popular place to mingle. From here, you can access a smaller, more laid-back bar (pictured here), which has a pool table, a long bar with stools, and several tables and chairs. This is a good spot simply to chat with friends, meet local guys, and enjoy a somewhat mellower pace. If you're a fan of male dancers, Silverado is a must - it's one of the best such venues in the country. But even if not, this is a consistently fun place to party and people-watch.Continue to 16 of 21 below.
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Manray, Seattle, Washington (closed late 2007)
The sleek and contemporary Manray Video Bar was one of gay Seattle's hottest destinations for socializing and schmoozing, until, very sadly, it closed to make way for a condo development late in 2007. It was nearly across the street from larger and longer-running R Place Bar and Grill, which is still popular.Continue to 17 of 21 below.
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Martin's Off Madison, Seattle, Washington (closed 2010)
Note: Martin's Off Madison closed in 2010.
Call it what you want: an affordable and romantic gay bistro, a highly polished jazz-piano cabaret, a convivial neighborhood pub. Martin's Off Madison (1413 14th Ave., 206-325-7000) is happily difficult to pigeonhole, as it serves many functions in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood, and the GLBT community. In all senses, it's an extremely friendly, well-run, and enjoyable place to nurse a local beer, listen to superb piano music, mingle with friends, or dine on casual Italian and American bistro fare.
Martin's opened in 2005 and has developed a steady and loyal following ever since. It comprises a larger main lounge and bistro, with cafe tables, comfy seating, and warm lighting. Here you can watch different performers show their talents each night (and also on weekends for brunch). Ruby Bishop is one of the most acclaimed pianists to perform here - she's on Monday nights and for Sunday brunch. There's also open-mic... on Thursdays (some seriously talented locals take the floor), and everything from accordion music to jazz standards on other evenings.
In an adjacent, smaller bar, there's a mix of bar stools and more cafe tables, and here it's a bit quieter and perfect for conversing with friends. The bar staff concocts some terrific cocktails, and there's a reliably good wine and beer list, too. For dinner, expect hearty classics, sometimes prepared with a contemporary spin: pasta bolognese, paella, steaks, burgers, crab-and-cheddar melts, and such. The prices are quite reasonable under $15 to $20 for most entrees. It's great to see a such an eclectic bar flourishing the way Martin's has, drawing a genuine mix of locals and tourists, gays and straights of all ages, music buffs and regular Janes and Joes. And Martin's is within a short walk of more than a dozen other gay bars on Capitol Hill.
P.S. - the staff dresses in snappy black-leather kilts. Fun!Continue to 18 of 21 below.
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Invasion Lounge, Portland, Oregon (closed)
Invasion Lounge has closed.Continue to 19 of 21 below.
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The Northbank, Vancouver, Washington (closed)
Note: Northbank in Vancouver has closed.
What's the nearest gay bar to Portland Airport? It may surprise you that it's actually in another state - The Northbank (106 W. 6th St., Vancouver, WA) is a friendly, low-keyed gay neighborhood bar in downtown Vancouver, just across the Columbia River from Portland (and the airport) in Washington. The low-keyed tavern draws mostly a local crowd from the Vancouver area, but Portlanders also amble up here on occasion, taking advantage of the very affordable happy hour, the uncrowded pool table, and the fun karaoke nights.Continue to 20 of 21 below.
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Dempsey's Brass Rail, Spokane, Washington (closed)
Note: Dempsey's Brass Rail has closed.
With a population of around 200,000, Spokane is the largest city in the inland Northwest, and although it's more conservative than Washington's largest metropolis, Seattle, this growing and steadily revitalizing city does have an increasingly visible gay population. Spokane's most popular gay bar since it opened in 1989, Dempsey's Brass Rail(909 W. 1st Ave.) is a spacious lounge and dance bar in the heart of historic downtown. Dempsey's is open nightly (closing at midnight on Sundays but 2 on other evenings) and is particularly noted for its good-size dance floor and great music. On Friday and Saturday nights, the Dempsey's Diva's troupe of drag queens perform to enthusiastic crowds. The club is about a 10-minute walk from Spokane's other gay (although very mixed-hetero) nightlife option, Irv's.
Dempsey's is not only the top gay hangout for Spokane, it draws plenty of visitors from Coeur D'Alene,... Idaho, which is just across the border, 30 miles away.Continue to 21 of 21 below.
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Twisted, Everett, Washington (closed)
Note: Twisted has closed.
Although it's in the Seattle metro area, Twisted nightclub (1212 California St.) is also the only gay bar in the city of Everett (population 100,000), which lies about 25 miles north and is home to a major Navy base, Boeing plant, and public marina. This friendly bar on the west side of downtown, near Everett's busy port and waterfront area, draws plenty of gay guys and lesbians from the northern Seattle area with its drag shows, go-go boys, country-western Thursdays, and Fetish Fridays.