A dive- bar crawl for the new millennium
By Kent Lewis
covered a few oddities over the years, including my unreal
experience involving a rental
car as well as income-generating opportunities stemming
from reciting all
fifty states alphabetically. In early April, however,
I was lucky enough to participate in a truly unusual event
involving a yellow school bus and fifty people dressed to
all started two years ago when a few friends planned a dive-bar
bus tour in Portland. The event was a success in part because
of its simplicity: Pick a few good bars and tip the bus driver
enough to overlook shenanigans en route. This year, the four
event planners, including myself, decided to up the ante.
We discussed t-shirts and prizes and bars that nobody had
ever spent time in.
batting around various event names, we came up with an idea:
What if everyone dressed in suits and formal gowns? To see
fifty plus people waltz into one of Portland’s best
dive bars in opera attire would be astounding. We agreed
on a name, Tie One On, and even had a logo put together for
the t-shirts. We also asked for a few prizes from our good
friends at Pabst Blue Ribbon, who were more than willing
starting point for the evening was The Matador on West Burnside.
Sporting black velvet paintings of bullfighters, the bar
is on the hip side, but the its central location was difficult
to beat. Everyone put on their special “porn name”
tags (first pet name and street name) and we jumped on the
BlueBird school bus. I set the rules immediately with my
first announcement to the crowd, “Have a great time,
and keep your arms and legs inside the windows at all times.”
giving away a few prizes for the best porn names (Smokey
Chambers, Tight Bangston and Sadie Ketchum, among others),
we landed at our first stop of the evening, Terry’s
Inn. The locals were surprisingly friendly when we made our
grand entrance. The bar, like many others we would visit
that night, smelled of stale smoke and beer. Lighting was
provided primarily by neon beer signs and décor included
20 year-old posters and the allowable State maximum of five
video poker machines. After a brief warm-up period, we were
off to our food stop at Mt. Hood Pizza on East Burnside.
Pitchers of beer and fresh pizzas awaited us, not to mention
a high capacity beer bong.
that the crowd had filled their stomachs, we headed out for
our third stop, Sloan’s on North Russell. The semi
on front and automaton (miniature mechanical) band above
the jukebox gave this bar a comfy lounge feeling. The locals
were also friendly, and forgiving as participants started
to feel the effect of their consumption. The best was yet
to come, however.
fourth stop was our ace in the hole. The Wishing Well in
St. Johns was not only a great bar, but had live entertainment
in the form of Marlena Wray. Marlena could play the Fender
like nobody’s business, but also backed herself on
drums and horns via an elaborate keyboard setup. The crowd
bounced on the dance floor to classic rock and dance hits.
The locals joined into the festivities, which added additional
flavor to the event (see the photo gallery for highlights).
fifth and final stop was our only disappointment, due to
overcrowding by the regulars. The Mallory Hotel is a Portland
classic by any standard, but the bar is packed Friday evenings
and we were left to fend for ourselves in the main lobby.
Soon after arriving, half the Tie One On crowd disappeared
to a nearby bar for food and drinks.
rode out the rest of the evening in smaller groups, but managed
to all make it home in one piece. Next year, we’ll
go for the gold medal and tie our event into a local charity.
Let me know if you have any ideas on that, besides alcoholics
anonymous, of course.