“It feels like everyone in here knows each other.”
So sayeth my friend Nate, my adventure buddy for the night, and how aptly he described a recent Wednesday night at the Blue Diamond, Sandy Boulevard’s musical gem. Having drinks and delicious, abundant, and reasonably priced ($5.50) onion rings in the bar area while watching the scene unfold on the small dance floor, it does indeed feel as if everyone knows each other; and it doesn’t take long for that feeling of warm inclusion to envelop each newcomer.
I almost hesitate to write a glowing review for this inner eastside hotspot because I like coming here so much and I’d hate to see it overrun and ruined by too much popularity. But with Portland facing a dearth of live music venues that: A) feature terrific live music; and B) are environments a female type person flying solo would feel comfortable hanging out in, I feel it’s my duty as a citizen and resident of Portland to spread the good news about the Blue Diamond to fans of Frugal Portland.
A word about logistics: Take the #12 bus here – or the #19 or the #20. If you’re the owner or user of wheels, there is parking to be had within a block or so. The music is free, seven nights a week, with a $5 minimum purchase of food/booze, NO EXCEPTIONS (emphasis, Blue Diamond’s).
So, what we’re talking about here is $5 for a full evening’s entertainment of killer music and first rate people watching, not to mention a dance floor that is laid back and welcoming, albeit quite small. No matter – come on a weeknight if you’re blessed with a mid-week weekend like I am, the floor has ample room on “off” nights and you can really get your groove on. And never mind the couples doing their blues steps and proper blues dances – I hold my own, on my own, and no one gives me the stink eye. Far from it; I receive lots of smiles and nods and “hello’s” and hands held out in welcome with offers to dance with me. And dance is what I do.
It’s true that if you can’t find anything in the blues or rockin’ music related to the blues to tickle your fancy, then this might not be your place. But if you can get your jam on to a band offering up inspired covers of Stevie Wonder tunes, and you dig a well-poured drink served with competent warmth, then come out, come out, wherever you are – the Diamond could very well be your new hangout.
Which brings me back to my friend Nate’s earlier observation about how the patrons at the Blue Diamond all seem to know each other. Indeed, this place reminds me of dances at the community hall on the tiny island where I used to live – walking into the hall, folks would greet and welcome each other, the known and the stranger alike. The dance floor was for dancing, not judging; the music was the glue that brought us all there and held us together for the night. The Blue Diamond is kinda like that, making it a safe(r) feeling space for a gal out on the town on her own. That being said, the usual nightlife rules for females apply: don’t leave your drink unattended, be careful when leaving to make sure you aren’t being followed, be ready to set clear boundaries with any admirers who may be getting too chummy.
But that’s the reality of being female anywhere. At least at the Blue Diamond I can experience genuine friendliness and a sense of welcome, the camaraderie of fellow Portlanders who love to rock out, all for a $5 donation to my personal booze consumption fund. That is so reasonable, I have some funds left over to tip the always awesome musicians.
Won’t you come and join me on the dance floor?