Portland Could Soon Become Home to Gay Lightlife Again Once Former Ember Dance Space Opens

This summer it’s now official that Portland will get a huge downtown nightclub called Badlands from a Bay Area bar owner 

After years of seeing bars close, downtown Portland’s gay scene will get a big new nightclub as soon as this year.

Last November, Portlanders mourned when nightclub Embers announced it would closeafter 48 years as a bastion of gay culture at the edge of Old Town—an unusually sudden end that came about after the owner suffered what the club called a “massive stroke.”

But the new business owner in the space, TJ Bruce, says he plans to “carry on the tradition” in the former Embers space at 110 NW Broadway by opening a new gay dance club called Badlands, as soon as this summer—although timing will depend heavily on the level of renovations needed.

Bruce is a 20-year veteran opening bars, with another spot called Badlands in Sacramento, plus three different nightclubs called Splash in FresnoSan Jose and Reno. He says he hopes to bring much of the same vibe to the Portland Badlands as at his previous Splash locations. His two-story, video-screen-packed San Jose location was apparently the most popular Lyft location in the Bay Area, potential good news for a Portland gay bar scene that hasn’t seen a high-profile opening in years.

Bruce says it was his local ties that led to him taking over the former Embers space.  “My family lives on the Oregon coast, he says. “I come up here often, and I’ve become enamored with the space.”

Bruce, who also works as a contractor, will do his own renovations on Badlands, and hopes to begin construction within the next couple months.

He also says his new lease gives a strong option to buy the building, allowing him to remain in the space for the long haul. “I plan to put in substantial work,” he says. “It’s about coming up with a plan for the first year, and then a long term plan. It’s a big project.”

This is great news for the LGBTQ community in Portland who love to go out and free themselves to good dance music. Portland has been losing ground lately with an almost non-existent gay scene.

The current bar on the strip called CC’s has been running away customers because many gays have written the place off or been so enraged by the security that they refuse to go back. Those who do still go only do so because no suitable alternative has opened up. It takes CC’s a week to gross what Red Cap Garage used to gross on Saturday night alone, and it is all because of arrogance, laziness, and inept management team, and a gestapo security team that needs to be shown the door.
“The only reason we still go is because for whatever reason we care about the place, nostalgia I guess. Also the drag host is great, and I know most of the bartenders so I get fucked up cheap. They always make me doubles for the price of singles. So I get there for 2 dollar happy hour at 10 and have 3-4 doubles for 2 dollars each. Then after that the price only goes up to 5 so I am good the rest of the night.”
The reason they have not-so-talented dancers is because they have done nothing to make the club a place where gays want to to go and want to be seen. Their security has driven everyone away. They are just unbelievably stupid. Like they alway close at exactly 2am even though they could keep the dance floor open until 2:30. They could and should also stay open after hours and charge a cover for dancing like Castros in Austin. The gays are dying for a place to dance in this town. Like I said though, too arrogant, lazy, and stupid to see the forest thru the trees. Hopefully with this new edition to the gay strip we can get more disco queens out to party!

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been there done that. and i wanna do it again in a better way.

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