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Selective Clubbing in Portland, Maine

In yesterday’s Sunday New York Times, Lionel Beehner made the case for staying away from the most concentrated clubbing area in Portland, Maine. According to Beehner, “The bars along Wharf Street can get pretty fratty.” Beehner suggests you go bowling instead. Erm.

It just so happens that I was on Portland’s cobblestone, pedestrian-only Wharf Street last Saturday night, and both outside and inside 51 Wharf and Oasis were indeed “pretty fratty.” While Oasis had a really great light show, it was sunk by the basest of humpy-humpy DJ selections and a crowd of very young white boys doing their best (not that good) to impersonate rappers. 51 Wharf was a touch classier and would have been more fun if not for the drunk college boys using their elbows like stilletos. If you think Bourbon Street is the best place ever, you’d love these places. If not, not. Around the corner, Pearl attracted an older crowd with more sophisticated decor and tunes that spanned decades but maintained the same danceable beat. Pearl was a bit slick and too well put-together for my taste, but I’ll be back. I had to hoof it the better part of a mile, almost to Deering Oaks Park, but I was glad to find that Bubba’s Sulky Lounge was just as danceable as but more casual than Pearl, sans frat crowd.

Phantom Buffalo Release Party at Empire Dine and Dance

My night ended at the small, downscale Empire Dine and Dance, where the joy of Phantom Buffalo‘s jangly-groove-ethereal music was revealed to me upstairs, live in concert at a release party. This was my favorite spot of them all.

Somebody tell Mr. Beehner you don’t have to go bowling.

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