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Music by VICE

Around the World in 80 Raves: Club Chemtrail

This is what happens when crust punks get into DJing and throwing parties.

by Lina Abascal
Apr 3 2014, 7:00pm

Around The World in 80 Raves takes you into the basements, warehouses, and back rooms where the magic happens—from Caracas to Calgary and back. Photos courtesy of Club Chemtrail. 

NAME: Club Chemtrail

LOCATION: Portland, Oregon

RESIDENTS: SPF666, Commune, Massacooramaan

RECENT HEADLINERS:  Kingdom, Vjuan Allure, DJ NA of Nguzunguzu, Dubbel Dutch

VENUE: Currently The Rose, a rosy-hued bar and lounge that was recently named the "best deep house" spot in Portland. But come May, the party moves to the Holocene—a warehouse big enough to accommodate the party's growing numbers. 

WHEN IT HAPPENS:  Every third Thursday

VIBE: Art school dropouts and ex-punks in sportswear making bad decisions.

UNFORGETTABLE MOMENT: During a secret New Year's Eve pop-up party headlined by the flamyboyant rapper Le1f, Club Chemtrail's resident visuals guy DaneOver got on a webcam with some dude who was putting his dick in a vice. (This is why you don't Skype with strangers at parties.) 

WHATS THE DEAL THO: 

Everything I thought I knew about Portland came from that TV show Portlandia. Turns out, there's more to the city than farm-to-table snacks and compost bins. Club Chemtrail is an art-y rave run by resident DJ SPF666, who I met through the Brooklyn-based dancehall princess Jubilee. SPF666 referred to the party as his "sixteen-month-old," just like a proud father. 

The grime-meets-fashion crowd begins to roll into Club Chemtrail pretty early. By 11pm, the dance floor of The Rose, the small bar that hosts the party, is bothersomely packed. Clearly, a move to a larger venue is needed ASAP. 

A few timid straight bros are greeted Club Chemtrail-style with some bumping and grinding beats by the fierce MC Sugur Shane, of Mike Q's label, Qween Beat. The bros are quick to appreciate their initiation and immediately get to dancing. 

Club Chemtrail is not a place for "sterile SoundCloud nerds asking for track IDs," explains resident DJ Massacooramaan. So you won't find many awkward head-bobbers here. Nor will you find corporate liquor sponsorships or branded flyers. The organizers background in Portland's punk and DIY scenes means they like to bring a level of ratchet DIY house party vibes to their ragers. 

Portland has not yet been saturated by dance parties. It never struck me as a rave city. Instead, I imagined an abundance of guitar music and house shows, and I'm not wrong. But according to SPF666, a dance music scene is slowly being carved out here. He relates to kids who, like him, started out as "squatters or crust punks who got into DJing and throwing parties." 

As for the after party, you'll find the Chemtrail crew throwing down anywhere from a mansion to a graveyard, casting hexes at the sun so it may never rise again. When they're not raving, the crew also claims to operate in a culture of "forward aesthetics," whatever that means. They release their own mixes, and recently started a record label. Their first release will be SPF666's Scorpion Cache EP. 

5 SONGS WE DANCED TO: 

"Club Chemtrail peppers our SoundCloud with curated mixes by our residents. These two in particular best set the tone for our parties." 

"What could be better than a qween like Rizzla editing a Queen like Trina? We've been dropping this for months and I doubt that's gonna stop anytime soon."

"Georgia Girls (FKA llesca) did a cute flip of the Hysterics club construction "Code Switch." This has been a favorite from residents and guests alike."

"Chimbala is the king. Dembow reigns. There is no alternative." 

@Linalovesit