Derelict’s Guide To Portland Strip Clubs

Derelict’s Guide To Portland Strip Clubs

Words By Kendall Klopfenstein

Words By Kendall Klopfenstein

The last time I talked to Migdol, he mentioned doing a piece on Portland, which not coincidentally, is where I live. I am a resident of the Rose City, and have some practical knowledge of the Portland skateboard community. However, I’m a recent transplant to this large city. I’ve skated most of the parks in the immediate vicinity, and try to do so regularly. Burnside is the closest park to my house, and I’m really not a big fan of it. For reasons not worth explaining, I don’t really even value my own opinion regarding the Portland scene. Basically, I’m still forming my own opinions daily. I can tell you that the concrete parks here are the best I’ve ever seen. Every teenage kid is insanely good. There are four skate shops within skating distance of my house. It rains all the fucking time in the winter. Indoor spots (Department of Skate) and mini-ramps exist for this reason. There. Come skate Oregon for yourself, plan to stay a few days in Portland and take several trips in different directions, using Portland as a base. I recommend Newberg, West Linn, Donald, Hood River, Battle Ground and the new Glenhaven park (skate while school is in session, as it is next to a high school). Lincoln City is pretty bad-ass, too. Maybe even Burnside. You won’t be disappointed with a trip out here. If you need directions, call Shrunken Head, the Office, Rebel Skates, or Cal Skates. Use a phone book.

Instead of listening to people bitch about why I wrote about the Portland skate scene the way I did, I wrote this in it’s place.

When I got to Portland, I soon discovered that there isn’t a neighborhood here that you can’t just stroll on down to the closest strip club. There are more strip clubs in Portland than liquor stores in all of Oregon (not really true, but pretty damn close). Most of them aren’t even strip clubs. They’re more like your sleazy dive bar with a dancing naked woman in the corner. They’re everywhere, open most hours of the day, have food, beer, liquor, and quite commonly, have televisions and billiards tables. After spending six years in a Colorado mountain town, “live nude dancers” sounds like beautiful music to my ears. I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to help a rookie through Portland strip club visits on the cheap (and other places, for that matter).


  • Skate there if you can. Graciously check your board at the door if required to. Don’t be scared to walk home with your board under your arm as your balance might not be it’s best upon departure.
  • Drink the cheapest draft beer the establishment sells. More money in your pocket is good. Stay away from any liquor that isn’t on the rail. You should have drunk that before you came to the bar. If you’re a snob and don’t drink cheap sauce, order it anyway. Hopefully you’ll spend less money. It’ll give you something to bitch about to your friends, fucking snob.
  • Play pool or darts or shuffleboard if the establishment has it.
  • Set a budget, and stick with it. Try to pick your friends and/or ride home by gauging their financial status. Being broke sucks, so don’t pretend you’re a high roller. Hangovers missing forty dollars beats hangovers minus an entire savings account.
  • Go at seemingly random times. Friday and Saturday nights might have the best girls, but there will be more frat boys and traveling businessmen. Try a hole in the wall joint before noon on a weekday for some painfully real entertainment.
  • Find the most appropriate place to lurk. I find that if I’m by myself or with one or two friends, the bar works just fine. Standing room only is for suckers. Find a seat or a table with a view of the pole, but not close or conspicuous enough to warrant tipping the dancer. Tipping per drink is less expensive than tipping per song.
  • Tip the bartender minimum dollar a drink. The way to circumnavigate this one is to start a tab (with a major credit card) and then tip when you’re ready to bounce. This allows you to tip your actual tab, instead of cash per each drink. The negative side to this, unless you tip with cash throughout your stay, is that your bartender might not hold you in the highest regard in the “who needs a drink” hierarchy.
  • Admire the athleticism of pole dancers. I like to think of it as “dirty gymnastics.”
  • Have a guide if you’re in a new area or on vacation. The strip club is fun when you’re alone, but it’s always more fun with buddies. Hosts are a little more up on drink specials, covers, class of employees, and might even know the bartender by name. Let your guide know that you appreciate his or her help by buying them a drink.
  • Keep your friends in check. And listen to your friends keeping you in check.
  • Enjoy yourself. Be hypercritical of the naked bodies of strangers. Forget about your real life problems. Smoke cigarettes even though you don’t. Fantasize about the drug problems of the dancers, or wonder what that girl would look like with implants. Use “fuck” as every other word you say. A greasy hamburger in the dingiest dive is much better than it sounds. Think about how good life is that you can play pool, darts, drink, et cetera in a place that has naked women.
  • Be a Kook, Chump or Chester.
  • Break out your cell phone. All phones do double duty as cameras these days as such clubs generally frown on cell phone use altogether. Plus you’re there to escape the world, not bring it with you. Geek.
  • Be a single woman by yourself. Unless you’re into beating creeps off with a stick. If a woman should be meeting people at a strip club, let them arrive first. Go in groups, sure, but stick together. You’ll thank me.
  • Mistake a strip club for a brothel.
  • Be a pervert. Enjoy the beauty of a natural woman. Embrace nudity (not literally). Just don’t start masturbating. You might be in the bowels of society, but you’re still in public. If you encounter dirty old men that just want to talk to you, portray yourself as extremely disinterested. Excuse yourself. That dirty old man was just hitting on you. Casual bar talk is acceptable, but generally speaking, stay away from dirty old men.
  • Not tip dancers. If you’re obviously watching them, give them money. Graciously leave them dollars. Not change. Never. Many bars, and maybe even most, don’t pay the dancers for being there. Tips are a huge thing for the entertainers. Let them know that even though their bodies aren’t perfect, you still appreciate them. Don’t think that there are strings attached to your money, either. Sit at the rack (the front stage)  for longer than you should. One dollar for every song makes for a thirty-dollar hour. If you’re sitting at the rack, you are tipping a minimum dollar a song, no exceptions. Find your favorite girl, sit at the rack, and bolt. Watching the entire dance rotation from the front row is both creepy and financially irresponsible.
  • Make eye contact with haggard strippers. Be more interested in anything else. Sorting out the garbage business cards in your wallet, pretending you’re having a conversation with yourself, and if approached, asking where the bathroom is. These all seem to deter the awkward moment of explaining why you’re too cheap for the lap dance. Especially for you, Brooklyn.
  • Think that a dancer is genuinely concerned with your day-to-day well-being.
  • Forget your identification card or your failsafe false identification card. Or money.
  • Be rowdier than the establishment wants you to be. Strip club bouncers don’t really fuck around with hearing your lame excuse as to why your shot glass magically flew out of your hand and broke the mirror across the room. There are times and places for hooliganism. Keep it down at the strip club, though.
  • Get a lap dance. Just send your money to me via paypal instead.
  • Be a designated driver. Unless you’re pregnant. But then again, you’d be inhaling a lot of secondhand smoke.
  • Think that you’re going to get anything more than a show from the dancers. Prove me wrong, but don’t think that they find strip club patrons attractive. You are a wallet to the tax man, not Prince Charming to the damsel in distress.
  • Try to one-up other people by spending money. Strippers aren’t auction items to be bid on. In the long run, no one is going to give a shit that you gave one girl one dollar and the guy sitting across from you gave her a five. If you’re at the strip club to impress people, you’re going about life all wrong.
  • Forget that alcohol impairs your judgment. Really. It does.
  • Touch a dancer. Ever. Unless she promises you she’ll make breakfast and pay for your cab ride home in the morning. Even then, beware.
  • Pass out, vomit, fight, or do anything that might potentially summon the police. You might not have to be on your best behavior, but I’ll warn you that it’s not an acceptable venue for your worst. Try not to get cut off, either. Waiting in the car doesn’t sound like fun.
  • Bring drugs. Leave the weed somewhere else. Leave anything you put up your nose back in your experimental days. You don’t really want to make those kind of “friends” at the strip club.
  • Don’t be afraid to go.

The best advice I’ve ever heard came to me in the quaint Colorado mountain town of Crested Butte. There resides a man known simply as Chachi. He sells candy to local kids during the days and harpoons whales in his stabbin’ cabin at night. Knowing the area well, I feel that I’m qualified to honor Chachi with “Local Living Legend” status. Chachi and I weren’t so much as drinking buddies as we were equally disenchanted reality phobes, but we’ve had plenty of chatting time. Chachi, though not frequently, will tell stories recalling his childhood growing up in Chicago. He told me the story of his father’s advice regarding the strip club. I had never heard such wisdom, and still have yet to hear better advice he said, “Son, if you want to get your money’s worth at the strip club wear sweat pants! 

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