End of an Era: Embers closes doors permanently

People pack into Embers on its last night Thursday, Nov. 31, 2017. (KATU Photo)

The Embers Avenue closed its doors for good early Friday morning, bringing about the end of an era for one of Portland's longest running and most well-known gay bars.

"I have so many memories of 20 years ago of coming here, so it’s sad to see it close," said Lorrie Dye.

Customers were stunned by the news that came via a Facebook post on the Embers Avenue page announcing the closure after the owner suffered a massive stroke, leaving him unable to run the bar.

"I was shocked. We cried. I was shocked it was closing because it’s a landmark. It’s a staple in the Portland scene if you’re gay or straight. No matter what, everyone comes here. Everyone knows Embers," said Rajan Cartner.

The club first opened in 1969, and has served Portland's LGBTQ community since, with dancing, dining, drag shows and karaoke. The club opened for business Thursday, ahead of one final bash with doors closing permanently at 2:30 a.m. Friday.

"We had to come. It couldn’t close without us coming one last time," Dye said.

For others, the closure of one of Portland's LGBTQ community landmarks is an example of how Portland is changing.

"Hopefully it will motivate the people that are into this, who are into drag, who are into that kind of performance, to band together someplace else and create something new," said Dean Mathiesen.

Hundreds of patrons lined the sidewalks outside the club late Thursday night and early Friday morning as the music boomed from the packed nightclub for one final time.

"I love this place, and I love what it’s meant to me in my life and it’s unfortunate, and hopefully it will re-emerge somewhere else -- all the creative energies here," Mathiesen said.

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