ⓘ Barbarella (Portland, Oregon)


ⓘ Barbarella (Portland, Oregon)

Located at Northwest 5th Avenue and Davis Street in Old Town Chinatown, Barbarella is in a building which previously housed a "grimy" music venue called Someday Lounge, followed by the Las Vegas-inspired Fifth Avenue Lounge. The bar is part of an Austin, Texas-based chain of nightclubs. Andrew Jankowski of Willamette Week described Barbarella as "a dance club with dirt-cheap drinks, themed parties running from the 50s through the 80s and an overall vibe best described as a straight persons idea of a gay bar." Daily Xtra described Barbarella as a "video/dance dive bar" with dance parties, disc jockeys, and queer events in its 2019 overview of "gay Portland".

The venue has two dance floors and a loft. The interior features lava lamps, pinball machines, and mid-century modern furniture. There is a painting of a topless woman on one wall, as well as two "tributes" to Jane Fonda, who starred in the 1968 science fiction film Barbarella. According to Jankowski, "The only 21st-century features are the video projections and gently rippling rainbow LED lights behind the pre-existing sheet-metal grates."


1. Reception

Jankowski compared the bar to neighboring amusement arcade Ground Kontrol, but without the video games, and said, "Barbarellas aesthetic is as delightfully kitschy and low-budget as a bar named after a campy sci-fi cult classic should be." Furthermore, he wrote:

On paper, Barbarella should be a sensation, particularly with central eastsiders who rarely deign to cross the river into the Old Town entertainment district. Sure, the lack of specialty drinks feels like a missed opportunity, and even the bartender recommended against ordering food. But with no cover charge and wells at or below $2 each, youd imagine the place would be packed with people headed to or from the arcade bar, the gay strip club or the scores of other party spots in the neighborhood.