If you’ve ever been to Crush in Southeast Portland, you have experienced the closest thing in the world to a bi bar. If its slogan--everyone is a little bit queer—doesn’t convince you, then its logo will: Three sets of iconic restroom figures, coupled as a man/man, man/woman, and woman/woman. You really can’t conjure more bisexual imagery than that.
“We’re entering a new era, and gay bars are dying,” says Woody Clarke, owner of Crush. “This is an everybody bar.” Woody, who identifies as a gay man, says he’s never quite been able to put exactly what Crush is into words.
“I got a distinct bi vibe the first time I walked into this bar.” I tell him flatly. “The space is divided into two parts. The crowd is pretty evenly mixed. All of the bartenders are fun and flirty.” I look up at our bartender Donny, who slides me my drink with a wink. I pucker my lips and thank him accordingly, then I sip my cocktail and scan the room. “Look around!” I gesture widely. There are two enormous paintings on the wall. One is of a half-naked man; the other, a half-naked woman.
These are just some of the reasons that my friends and I started the event Bi Bar at Crush. What the hell is Bi Bar? You may be wondering. Will there be an orgy on the stage? Do I have to be bi to go? Should I wear my purple harness? With all of the slutty stereotypes surrounding bisexuality, it’s understandable that visualizing a bisexual gathering might conjure some of these questions. Don’t get me wrong, sluts are my people, and puhleease wear that purple harness, but getting laid is not the ultimate goal here. And, yes, you can come if you’re not bi. But first you should Google the word monosexual.
Bi Bar is a way for like-minded people to meet each other and find friendships, build bonds, and create a stronger sense of community. It’s a monthly mixer that is currently organized by members of Bi Brigade (www.bibrigade.org) at Crush Bar in Southeast Portland. This low-key Tuesday night get-together has been steadily growing by word of mouth for over two years. Bi Bar doesn’t require much planning. We just drape the bi pride flag in front of Crush’s entrance (Yep, there is a flag) and blast some glam rock. (Just kidding. Well, OK. Maybe sometimes.)
Once in a while we’ll throw up a slideshow of famous bisexuals on the projector in the back room. Watching Crush’s regular patrons try to guess the theme can be hilarious. The images appear in no particular order so it may be confusing to see a picture of Frank Ocean or Annie Sprinkle sandwiched between Herman Melville and a young Eleanor Roosevelt. “Are they all Aquarians?” One girl asks me as I approach a group of befuddled barflies to ask if they had managed to figure it out.
Bi Bar is free, it’s fun, and it’s fucking necessary. “Being able to go to a place where people just know that I’m bi; not feeling hesitant about approaching people… it’s really important.” says Megan, who’s been coming to Bi Bar for over a year. “There’s a subculture here that people rarely get to explore, and there’s a lot of us. We need a place like this to meet.”
Sometimes there’s live music or a DJ, though we haven’t been able to book Carrie Brownstein or Skrillex—both on the slideshow, however. Sometimes, especially during pride season, we have guest hosts, fun features, and unique performances such as a two person kissing booth or GoGo dancers of any gender. Crush Bar always has great drink specials, delicious food, an unpredictable crowd, and lots of laughs. The only thing you need to brace yourself for is too many Dr. Who references.
“I love Bi Bar! I wish we could do a regular bi night on weekends, but Friday and Saturday nights are all booked up.” Says Woody as we sit down to discuss Bi Bar, which has become one of Crush’s most popular mid-week mixers. Crush, which was recently voted Willamette Week’s #1 LGBTQ bar in Portland, is well known for its burlesque, stand-up comedy, and willingness to host any obscure get-together. Their calendar is bursting with bizarre events! There’s a monthly figure drawing night called Anti-Art School. Crush Bar recently debuted a social for vegan singles. And how could anyone pass up Judge Judy Happy Hour?
“Well, Friday and Saturday nights may be spoken for, but what if we do a bi brunch on the weekend?” I suggest, half-seriously.
“Great idea!” he counters with enthusiasm. “Have you ever been here for our weekend brunch?” I tell him I have not. “It’s wonderful, and the wait is never too bad.” He shows me the brunch menu and I skim through it. I see a breakfast item called Double Down that has two of everything. The puns are already too much to stomach.
“We could do some drink specials, or some penis-shaped-pancakes.” says Woody, “…and hey, with how stiff we pour our cocktails, I may just order the pussy plate. You know, for old time’s sake.”
I roll my eyes and we raise our glasses, not quite sure if we’re joking or planning the next big thing. “That’s what they call a barsexual.” I tell him.
Check out Bi Bar (facebook.com/bibarpdx) every 2nd Tuesday of the month, starting at 8pm.
Crush Bar (crushbar.weekbly.com) is located on the corner of SE 14 and Morrison.
Visit Bi Brigade (www.bibrigade.org) to connect with Portland’s local bi community.