Euphoria and Portland’s Ever Changing Queer Nightlife

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Euphoria By Matt Pizzuti, PQ Monthly For several weeks there’s been a buzz going on about changes at Branx/Rotture—the industrially-set venue for Blow Pony with a name we weren’t always sure we could pronounce. The jet black two-story building on 315 SE Third has now become Euphoria, the result of a recent remodel led by Rotture/Branx program manager Samuel Thomas and introduced to the world (in not-quite-finished form) at a grand opening event July 24. While he was busy laying the final touches on the project, Thomas offered PQ Monthly a quick lowdown on the changes underway. PQ Monthly: How did you end up in this position of turning Branx/Rotture venue into Euphoria? Samuel Thomas: I've been working at Rotture/Branx as the program manager for a while now and really got to know the owner, Mike, and discuss the future of the space, where he wanted it to go and where I wanted to see it. Eventually he took me up on my offer to become partners and make a new, safe, queer space. PQ: What do you envision for the venue's look and feel after the remodel is complete? Thomas: Very retro. I want people to walk in and feel like they are back in the late 70s/early 80s Manchester scene, or Studio 54, it's a minimal black & gold style accented with LED lighting that will change depending on the event. PQ: Is there anything about the pre-remodel space you felt bittersweet about getting rid of? Thomas: The chandeliers above the Rotture bar! I love them, they felt so iconic... but because they felt iconic I knew they had to go, otherwise people would just think it was still Rotture. PQ: Okay, now what from the old venue were you the most eager to rip out and redo? Thomas: I was so excited to get rid of the bathrooms & redo the stage... it was time to give a full update to both those spaces, and they are both nearly complete now! PQ: What kind of new events do you hope to bring to Euphoria or who do you hope will take advantage of the space? Thomas: More underground dance music, national drag & DJ talent, and definitely more activism-oriented events. We also have some established acts (like Peep Show) that are moving over and joining our new venture. PQ: Has the process gone on mostly as you expected?  Were there any unexpected hurdles? Thomas: If by expected you mean seat of my pants, then yes. I literally came to an agreement with Mike the end of June and then we had 3 weeks to get enough of the remodel done to open in time for Blow Pony, that was a scary rush but we made it. Now we are working on finishing the remodel, getting the entire place properly staffed and letting people know we are open, safe and very queer. PQ: Throughout this process you’ve been asking the community for support. How much have crowdfunding or donations contributed to the process? Thomas: None! This was all done through a partnership with the previous full owner, my amazing fiancé (Jason Staats of the Where to Eat Guide) and a single private donation. That being said, we definitely have a lot more work to go so if people don't necessarily want to come out and drink every night I am open to taking donations. PQ: Is there anything else you want the community to know about you or about Euphoria? Thomas: That we are open! Currently seven nights a week starting at 9 p.m. (except for Sunday t-dance, when we open at 4 p.m., and Monday we open at 8 p.m.), once we build enough of a core crowd I hope to be open starting at 4 p.m. every day. We are a safe space to grab a drink and that we welcome all aspects of our LGBTQ community.