Portland’s best kept secret for an affordable night out

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Belly Dancing Night at Blue Matthew Swanick/Staff Photographer

By: Lydia Libby, Web Editor

A dilemma many college students face is the question of “What am I going to do tonight?” Most activities cost money, and most students find themselves sitting at home or in their dorm with nothing to do. However, if students look hard enough, they may stumble across Blue, an intimate performance venue for local musicians and dancers. Blue is a 21 and older club, unless a minor is accompanied by their parent or guardian. This happening little spot does not charge a cover fee and only asks for donations, no matter how small, to go toward the performer of the evening. For an inexpensive evening out, Blue is a nice place to relax, listen to live music and have fun.

Blue opened on April 29, 2005, and was half the size that it is today. Four years ago, owner Terez Frazer expanded to add more space to the venue. When you walk inside of Blue, there are small tables and chairs everywhere with a quirky bar in the back and a stage at the front. There are two women who run the business, Lydia Brown, 29, and Aislinn Murphy, 28. Both ladies were excited to talk about the venue and the shows they hold.
“It’s all about the music,” Murphy said.

Every night there is live music, primarily folk and jazz performers. Brown and Murphy explained that the evening is about the talent and that when attending a show at Blue, you are asked to keep conversation to a minimum.

Every third Thursday of the month, Blue offers a special Middle Eastern night with music from the band Zapion, with a belly dancing performance from a different belly dancer each month. Anne Beal, of Casco performed Thursday, March 21 alongside Zapion. Zapion is made up of three musicians: Sarah Mueller, a violinist, Nathan Kolosko on the oud and Eric LaPerna on the Middle Eastern hand drums. LaPerna said he enjoys performing at Blue because “it has a great atmosphere.” Zapion formed in 2010 and have been performing Middle Eastern music at Blue since 2011. Anne Beal held her first belly dancing performance at Blue 12 years ago. The thing she enjoys most about performing at Blue is that “it’s a very friendly atmosphere.” Beal is trained primarily in the Egyptian and Turkish style of belly dancing, and has her costumes custom made in Cairo, Egypt by a woman who goes by the name Madame Noussa.

Along with the special monthly events, there are music events every night and comedy shows every Monday night. Brown and Murphy’s favorite events are the jazz jam sesh nights that they hold every Tuesday and Saturday because it is a time for talented musicians to sit in a circle and enjoy playing music together in a relaxed setting.

“People like experiencing something new,” Murphy said.

Murphy also added how many people have told her, “it feels like you’re in New York.” The relaxed, hip and casual vibe that Blue emits allows people of all ages to feel comfortable and have a good time. Each year, Blue has won the Portland Phoenix award for the best jazz venue in Portland.

Blue always has a calendar of events, and can be found on Facebook or Instagram @portcityblue. Brown and Murphy work hard to keep the venue clean, decorate for holidays and events, and search for local talent that people who come to Blue will want to see. Blue has always been a donation only venue, aside from rare ticketed events. All of the basket donation proceeds go to the musician or performer.

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