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Readers' Pick
Best Readers' picks 2007: Arts and Entertainment

SPACE Gallery, Dock Fore, the White Heart, and more.

BOOZE WITH A VIEW: Float your work week away on drinks and the tide at DiMillo's Floating Restaurant's happy hour. Make a night of it with a beer at Dock Fore, a tune from the Big Easy, and then visit Bubba's Sulky Lounge to dance until you can't move anymore.

Best Gallery + Best Non-Gallery Art Space
This is the second time SPACE GALLERY has won this diptych, and though we’re probably supposed to tell you voters to make up your mind and decide what you think SPACE is, instead let’s just explain why you’re right. The venue’s best installations not only feature some of the most exciting and wide-ranging contemporary art of the day, they also consistently blur the line between public art and gallery art, work meant to be observed and work that implicates and involves the viewer. Last year’s Barnstormers show, with painted barnsides and half of a wooden boat jutting out of the wall, transformed every concert at the venue that month into an experience, and November’s “The Innocents” photography installation cast a sobering shadow over the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

SPACE Gallery | 538 Congress St, Portland | 207.828.5600 |

Best Bar
Not to deny the traditional ambience of similarly Irish outfits like Brian Boru and Rí-Rá, but THE SNUG gets it right by being, in their own words, Irish-ish. Their secret is the lineup of traditional wooden horseshoe-shaped booths with ginormous walls so you and your eight friends can get hammered on Jameson with a modicum of privacy. Think of it as an antiquated cubicle so you can get your “work” done.

The Snug | 223 Congress St, Portland | 207.772.6839 |

DOCK FORE? Geez, this Fore Street institution wasn’t even on our skinny white-boy V-neck writer radar! Clearly, a little “research” was required. What we found is the closest thing to Cheers the city has. Three-quarters of their customers are regulars, and who can blame them with $2 pints for happy hour, friendly bartenders, a 50-inch high-def TV for the Sox game, and a clean, non-meat-market vibe for the range of ages ready to retire from the sleazier joints down the street. Takes all kinds, brotha!

Dock Fore | 336 Fore St, Portland | 207.772.8619

Best Dance Club
If you haven’t had the questionable pleasure of attending Portland’s finest dance club, you need know only these words about BUBBA’S SULKY LOUNGE: light-up disco dance floor. Drinks that make your brain hurt just looking at them, two bars to provide them, and a parade of parties including the infamous Digital Dori and DJ Jon ‘80s night production every Friday all contribute to this obvious choice for our ‘07 winner. Still not sold? How about a gut-punching sound system and a menagerie of stuffed animal heads and various bric-a-brac in every nook and cranny? Nothing says “come home with me” like busting out the Running Man underneath a canopy of tricycles.

Bubba’s Sulky Lounge | 92 Portland St, Portland | 207.828.0549 |

Best Dive Bar
Why do we need dive bars in our life? What is the human condition such that we feel comfortable in a less-than-sanitary environment? Skip these pansy philosophical questions, let’s go to AMIGO’S and drink PBR, play darts, smoke a pack-and-a-half of butts, try to figure out which room is actually the pissoir, hear live music until our ears bleed, order another pitcher of PBR, lean on the table and find our arms stuck to it, shoot pool, take another piss, smoke more cigarettes, and cap off the night by drinking more PBR until we cry or go home with someone we don’t know. Awesome.

Amigo’s | 9 Dana St, Portland | 207.772.0772

OUT IN THE STREET: David A Marshall's art shows the vibrancy we love in Portland with bright, bold colors - but, oddly, not much green!
Best Gay Bar
Competition was as fierce as a drag queen in white Fendi glasses and a pair of Jimmy Choo wedges in this category. What, with the overwhelming number of super clubs and chic gay ultra lounges dotting the peninsula, pinpointing one as the standout would get anyone’s 2(x)ists into a twist. Seriously, though, there is something to be said for longevity, and while some of the gayest locales in town (The White Heart, The Snug) aren’t technically gay, STYXX still packs ‘em in with (suspect) programming like “Rated R Night” and “School Girl Night.” Whipped cream and plaid pleated skirts, anyone?

STYXX | 3 Spring St, Portland | 207.828.0822 |

Best Happy Hour
Come, friends, sail away on DIMILLO’S FLOATING RESTAURANT! It takes most locals a couple years to finally set foot in what looks like a most unusual tourist trap, but once you’ve tasted the sweet ambrosia of its happy hour, you’ll be back for more. Let us list some pro’s: 1) the restaurant is floating, 2) the bar is as long as a bowling lane, 3) fireplace, 4) food. Yes, that’s right, screw the bar crunchies and feast on veggie sticks, cheese and crackers, and some wings or scallops if you’re lucky. All the drinks are 50 cents off, too. We feel like we’re floating . . .

DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant | 25 Long Wharf, Portland | 207.772.2216 |

Best Irish Pub
The spot that’s the most like Ireland is RÍ-RÁ, the pub on the waterfront, with windows on the harbor, and doors to the busiest street in town. And right in those doors are Irish accents (doling out the pub quiz on Tuesdays), Irish music, Irish dancing, and — most important of all — Irish drinks. If you need more than the black stuff, try Smithwick's for a solid red ale, or choose from the list of Irish-distilled whiskeys rivaling any pub in Ireland (the single Red Breast 12-year has a sweet kick with a smooth finish) .

Rí-Rá | 72 Commercial St, Portland | 207.761.4446 |

Best Jukebox + Best Over-Thirty Bar + Best Pick-up Spot
This mantle’s worth of awards for THE WHITE HEART is a validation of how oddly diverse Congress Street’s newest institution has been since it opened. It’s an essential cocktail spot for the well-off and middle-aged on their way to a nice dinner (hence the over-thirty prize), a common pit-stop for bachelorette parties and birthday celebrations (prime pick-up time), and a young party-people/hipster standby thanks to an eclectic mix of live music acts. That wide swath of appeal is handily summed up in the lounge’s well-stocked jukebox, where The Shins segue into the Rolling Stones into the Rushmore soundtrack, and then that one song that every random person in the place knows, like “When Doves Cry” or something.

The White Heart | 551 Congress St, Portland | 207.828.1900 |

Best Karaoke
You know that scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding — the one where jealous ex-girlfriend Julia Roberts sells out bride-to-be Cameron Diaz at a Chicago karaoke bar when she insists that Diaz take the mic? Diaz, as ingénue Kimmy, stands and warbles “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself,” to a response of catcalls and boos. It’s a scene that’s played out in real life night after night in bar after bar throughout the world.

And, like the song, it’s always hard to know what to do with yourself when you wander into a bar that features karaoke — like viewing a car wreck, your interest is piqued. For the voyeur in some of us, and the musical exhibitionist in the rest, we salute LAVA LOUNGE for receiving this top honor.

Lava Lounge | 416 Fore St, Portland | 207.879.4007 |

Best Live Music Club
Phoenix readers agree readily with many of the musicians in town: THE BIG EASY is the place to play. Their combination of a terrific sound system with pro soundpeople, sizable stage, and great taps make it the destination for bands from here and “away.” Thanks to the efforts of the clubs’ owners and Lauren Wayne, the Wonder Woman of booking in Portland, audiences can revel in top-tier talent in an intimate setting. The best part: everyone gets an additional show by the ubiquitous Uncle Eddie, who entertains the line and the smokers outside the front door.

The Big Easy | 55 Market St, Portland | 207.775.2266 |

CORRECTION:Eric Murray and Ken Bell, the owners of The Big Easy, point out that in our writeup of their club, named Best Live Music Club by readers, we gave an inaccurate picture of who books what bands at their club and with what frequency. Justin Hendrickson handles the regular booking of local bands, while Lauren Wayne books national and regional acts on rare occasion. To add insult to injury, we published the wrong phone number for the club. As regular readers of our listings know, it is 207.775.2266.

Best Local Artist: David A. Marshall
You must admit, it’s an amazing win for Portland that you can often find one of your city councilors on the street-corner painting away.

“Hey DAVE, whatcha doin’?”


“Cool. So about this formula business ban . . .”

This prolific self-proclaimed “neon classicist” transformed the street-side window of his apartment into the Pine Street Studios so late-night walkers in the West End can get a brightly lit glimpse of his colorful portraits and cityscapes. Surprisingly, his compositional palette seems to have a lot more red than green!

David A Marshall | Pine Street Studios, 41 Pine St, Portland | 207.409.6617 |

Best Radio DJ: Mark “with a K” Curdo, WCYY
A giant genuflection at the feet of Mr. Curdo is in order. The WCYY disc jockey and owner of Labor Day Records has snuck his local-music oriented “Spinout” program (Thursdays 7-10 pm and rebroadcast Sundays) into otherwise corporate programming to bring you a mix of local musicians and mostly-actually-alternative-artists. Ted Leo followed by Spouse? Cult Maze next to Wilco? Jarvis Cocker side by side with Moses Atwood? All this plus live performances and interviews. Thank you MARK “WITH A K,” we’re happy to take what you’re dishing out.

Mark “with a K” Curdo | Spinout | Thursday & Sunday 7-10 pm | WCYY | 93.9 & 94.3 FM |

TALKING HEADS: Screens of ESPN and NESN, with a relaxed feel like your buddy's living room make Fore Play most enjoyable.

Best Sports Bar
Sports bars and cheap sexual innuendo go together like, well, white hats and cheap draft beer. But, to their credit, while other sports-themed bars have come, gone, or been shuttered thanks to moronic vandalism, FORE PLAY has stayed at the forefront of the pack. It’s unclear if the bar is really a good place to watch the game, or if it’s a sports bar because it caters to the sports fans. Either way, they can be applauded for their longevity and their ability to “dress down” in an ever upscaling Old Port.

Fore Play | 436 Fore St, Portland | 207.780.1111

Best Theater Company: The Public Theatre
of Lewiston, now in its 16th year, is one of only five Equity houses in the state. Since opening its curtains in Lewiston’s old Ritz Theater (where a young Stephen King reportedly watched movie matinees), the Public Theatre has thrilled ever-growing audiences with the best professional actors of New England and Broadway, exquisite production values, and the work of bards as diverse as Durang, Ibsen, Albee, and Stoppard. Currently pursuing an ambitious renovation campaign, for which it received $250,000 from the Boston-based Jane Trust, the Public Theatre will next tempt theater-goers with the classic Tuscan ambrosia of Enchanted April.

The Public Theatre | 31 Maple St, Lewiston | 207.782.3200 |

Best Under-21 Venue
Unfortunately for the under-21 folks there are limited hangout spots. THE STATION mostly makes up for it, with all-ages shows by local musicians, traveling rock bands, and well-known artists like the Sublime cover band Bad Fish. The venue features a slew of pool tables, and many other gaming tables, such as foosball, so there’s plenty to do, even away from the big dance floor, and there are plenty of spots to sit and chill when the mood strikes.

The Station | 272 St John St, Portland | 207.773.3466 |

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