Portland Scene: Austra DJs Gaycation’s post-anniversary party, PDX’s new ’90s dance party


It’s been a social-light few months for me. I’d like to blame the usual suspect, new-relationship-love-island-seclusion, but that is simply not the case. Winter in Portland decided to rear it’s rainy head in March while everyone else seems to be experiencing spring-ed bliss (I’m looking at you, Chicago). That, and who wants to leave the house when there’s a Skins marathon to be watched anyway? Also, it was my birthday and seeing that I’m nearing 30, granny had to slow down on the fun intake because the fear of breaking a hip is now real.

Anywho, while I did miss some key lez events, namely Sarah Jaffe, Ivan Coyote and a Lisa Frank-themed MRS, I did manage to come out dancing as us gays usually to do.

Warning: I am about to overdramatize the following. In the wake of our local gay and lesbian paper Just Out shutting down last fall, new newsmagazine PQ Monthly rose from the ashes and has soldiered on to create quite a splash in just a short period of time. This month’s issue was their second and they kicked off with the first of many press parties that will be thrown to coincide with each new issue. The idea is to give the community an excuse to check out new venues, and while it remains to be seen if they plan to stick to queer owned businesses, there really is no concern of the gays running out of places to gather.

I’ve attended both the launch party and the press party and this staff, largely made up of ex-Just Outers, is equal parts new, evolved and awesome. And, most importantly, they do know how to throw a shindig.

I’m going to go ahead and just get right to the punch line: I ended up dancing on stage. The joke is my going to Gaycation and while I am not one to shake a tail-feather where people can actually see me, Mr. Charming, DJ Snowtiger and DJ Katie Stelmainis of Austra made it so I had no control over my body.

While I usually avoid Gaycation because I assume it to be insanely packed and am the old biddy that would bring earplugs to a rock show, I was graciously asked and accepted an evening of debauchery. Now here’s where you mark your calendar, as I admit to being terribly wrong. While I figured it’d be out of control crowded, and it was, turns out I’ve never had a better time rubbing on so many new folks. Come to think of it, I’ve always had a great time at the handful of Gaycays I’ve attended. As a Portland institution, Gaycation turned five this year and has shown no signs of fading into queer dance party oblivion. Quite oppositely, they only seem to get better with age. Like me, at least according to my OkCupid profile.

I’ve been mulling over the idea of attempting stand-up comedy. While that will probably never happen due to my overwhelming fear of standing up in front of anyone and my inclination for flop sweat, I have made it my New Year’s resolution to at least try to be funny, publicly. So baby steps to that goal and my attempt to do at least one not-gay thing a month led me to Back Fence PDX: Live Storytelling. And by not-gay, I mean that I aim for things that don’t have “queer” in the title. Seeing that Back Fence is ripe for hilarity, I was kind of cheating because we know lesbians love their funny. Win for me because the audience was quite attractive.

Back Fence is very much like New York’s The Moth, and counts San Fran’s Porch Light series as it’s kissing cousin. Unbeknownst to me, the theme of the installment I attended was “Just Can’t Get Over It: Revenge, Heartache, Insanity, Anticipation.” In other words, the stories of my people. The evening featured local and national storytellers, telling true and unrehearsed personal stories that had me LOLing and near tears in captivating 8-13 minute packages. I’d pick favorites but they were all amazingly charming so I’ll just geek out over the fact that I got to see The Daily Show correspondent/Best Week Ever commentator Lauren Weedman live, and that I gained one-liners to use for days.

Finally, while I was hesitant to attend BMP/GRND at first due to my love of vowels and, well, figuring it would be just another dance party, I was intrigued by their promise of the ’90s. Especially since “’90s themed queer night” can be used to describe any night of the week here in good ol’ PDX. Also, I realized aside from the aforementioned stage shenanigans, I’ve been suffering a bump and grind dry-spell so I gave it a go. Turns out, vowels suck and Bel Biv Devoe rules.

I have to say, for an inaugural event, this party was the tits. Not only do they have flyers featuring Darlene in all her plaid glory and lezbrotic movie clips projected on the walls, but I was introduced to the fact that Pop-Up Video has a board game and I now have plans every Friday night ’til infinity. This brain child of DJ Kasio Smashio and DJ Rhienna jumped seamlessly from Lisa Loeb to Snoop Dogg, and from Next’s “Too Close” to Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn.” Pretty sure that’s the stuff that wet dreams are made of.

I could continue to gush but will instead direct you to DJ Rhienna’s set from the evening and look forward to getting all up in their amazingly picturesque photobooth at the next installment on May 18.

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