The other night I was taking a cab home from downtown, chatting with the driver about Erotisphere, and he asked me, “So what do you think is the best strip club in Portland?”
“The Acropolis,” I said without hesitation. This is my standard reply, since I get asked this question a lot. Then I thought about it for a moment and added, “...although I visited Casa Diablo recently and the dancers there are extremely friendly. I was really impressed.”
The Acrop is widely recognized as one of the best strip clubs in Portland, because it's the most crowd-pleasing overall. It's big enough to take a large group of people to, it's got a huge beer selection, it's got good food that's also cheap, it's grungy enough to please the dive-bar lovers and classy enough not to scare away prudes, it's got unique décor with the Poseidon statue and cow/beef posters, and it has some of the most impressive dancers in the city. This is where I take people who are visiting from out of town. It's also a hot spot for birthday parties among my group of friends, as well as a favorite destination for hungover Sunday brunch.
Still, my personal favorite is Hawthorne Strip, because I feel the most comfortable in there. They play a lot of music I listen to at home, and at a reasonable volume level. It's small, dark, and cozy, and the booths are nice. The dancers tend to be “normal” kind of women who are easy to talk to, and they'll often stand around chatting with me after their sets. It has a similar vibe as some other clubs I like for the same reason – Glimmer's, Magic Gardens, and even Mary's Club (which is slightly more frantic, but they make up for it with fantastic service).
It really depends on what criteria we're using to judge a club. I like different clubs for very different reasons, and my opinions often conflict with those of my friends. My brother, Marko, for instance, tends to hate any place that doesn't have dirt-cheap drinks, while I don't mind spending a little more to hang out somewhere really cool (not that the two are mutually exclusive). A lot of times I'll read through reviews of clubs, bars, or restaurants on BarFly or Yelp, and people will say they HATE a place for the exact same reasons that I LOVE the place.
Strip clubs can be judged in terms of dancers, drinks, food, music, service, vibe, size, and uniqueness. It's hard to judge a place by its dancers, though, because the dancers are always changing from shift to shift and month to month. Also, everyone is attracted to different things. If I owned a strip club, I would have certain nights every month dedicated to particular fetishes. For instance, Big Girl Night – No dancers under 150lbs! Also Tranny Night – Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just a pre-op transsexual? And hell, why not Barefoot Night? And definitely Furry Night! I'd also like to see someone take a whiz in a bucket on stage, but I'm not sure if that would be legal...
Alas, one of the things missing from Portland's strip club scene is diversity, so pretty much anything that makes a place stand out from the other 60 clubs in town is a good thing. For that reason, I'd say uniqueness is the most important quality a club can have. Here is my list of Portland's 5 most unique strip clubs in no particular order:
- Mary's Club: Check out that weird mural! Not only is this the oldest strip club in Portland, I believe they also employ the oldest stripper in town. Family owned and operated!
- Silverado: Portland's only full-time male strip club. The patrons and staff here tend to be far more lewd than the dancers.
- Rooster's: A post-apocalyptic biker bar with peanut shells on the floor and dogs running around. Hipsters beware – there isn't a hint of irony in this place.
- Casa Diablo: The crude paintings of devil-girls hung all over look like they were done by a 13-year-old boy with markers. All the food is vegan for some reason.
- Devils Point: Fire strippers and Stripparaoke, duh!
What are your picks for Portland's most outstanding strip clubs?