At Sword Society events, listen to club music and play with lightsabers

Like the opening scenes of a cyberpunk action movie, half a dozen costumed warriors wield lightsabers in a neon-painted warehouse, dancing to the sound of drum and bass.

It’s Tuesday, which means the Sword Society is meeting in Rainbow City, an art and music venue for all ages in Southeast Portland.

What is the rainbow city? It’s a bit of everything.

Craig Strand, a Sword Society regular, called it an “acid-free acid trip.”

Owner Strawberry Pickle (aka Sheridan Rolland) described it as “the land of misfit toys”.

Filled with black lights and neon murals and crammed with donated furniture, slightly broken Christmas decorations, and children’s toys, this is an art gallery-slash-cafe-slash-concert venue.

There is a 14ft pink DayGlo glitter covered Triceratops statue named Oz that serves as Rainbow City’s mascot. Buyers can find handmade hats and vintage clothing in the retail section. A vegan food cart, mobile beauty salon, and tattoo bus are parked outside.

The space was most recently a repair shop for QuarterWorld, and there are still a handful of arcade games for visitors to play.

“It’s absolute neon mayhem here, and everyone loves it,” Strawberry Pickle said.

For Ms Pickle, Rainbow City was a dream that was born four years ago and came true in January 2020. She said she sold her house to finance the opening of the place.

“I got the seat, we had two amazing months, the sky was the limit, then COVID came in, and it was done. It was done in one day, ”she said.

Rainbow City has managed to hang on to a closed COVID year by hosting virtual events and thanks to the generosity of Strawberry Pickle owners at QuarterWorld, who she said were “endlessly supportive” of her business.

“We came out to the other side, and now we’re back to square one, kind of a re-emergence,” she said. “This is our grand reopening. “

During the day, Rainbow City is above all a café and an unusual wifi studio where artists can paint or create. The evenings are more event-driven. Sometimes there is a DJ, live music, or a poetry reading. The space can also be hired for private events.

And on Tuesday there are swords.

Sword Society started meeting for small gatherings a few months ago with limited capacity. Now, with Oregon completely reopened pandemic safety measures, more and more people are discovering the fun of playing with foam or plastic swords.

Vin Eden, whose look could be described as “Cyberpunk Meets the Crusades,” runs Sword Society. On a recent Tuesday, he arrived with a piece of shoulder plate armor over one shoulder, glow-in-the-dark hair dye transforming his beard an otherworldly yellow under the black lights.

“I think everyone loves swords,” he said. “Swords are cool, in short. And whether a child or an adult who still has the child in them comes here, they really get the feeling.

Years ago Eden held rallies in the parks using bamboo kendo martial art swords. But these events mainly attracted people with martial arts training. Eden wanted something everyone could play, using something less intimidating than bamboo training swords.

Enter the lightsabers.

“It’s a bit esoteric but in a way it’s really classic,” he said. Most sports today revolve around ball games. But go further back in history, he said, and swords were the way to play.

Sword Society parties are not classes, but if you are looking for advice, Eden and others can offer it to you. It is mostly an opportunity to practice or dance with lightsabers, or to watch the show and listen to music.

There is no age or ability requirement. Children are welcome, as are first-time sword fighters. Bring your own sword, or you can rent one with a suggested donation of $ 5. Costumes are encouraged, and people often arrive dressed in battle armor, Jedi robes, or anime-inspired costumes.

The main rule is to “play well” and keep the good vibes going.

Strand, one of the regulars, said he was a little nervous the first time a friend invited him to a sword fight.

“But you go out and your adrenaline goes up and it’s kind of a sport,” he said. “We dress up, wear costumes, there are all kinds of wild people here. It is a good place.

The lightsaber element was a definite appeal to him.

“In 1977 I was in the theater and saw ‘Star Wars’ seven times when it came out and couldn’t get enough,” he said. “When I walked in and saw the neon, black lights, and lightsaber blades flashing, I was hooked. “

While the crowd is mostly adults, 6-year-old twins Maxwell and Jubal Waissman are also frequent attendees of the Sword Society.

“We were here from the very first one,” said their mother, Adrienne Derryberry. “For me, it’s fun to come and watch them play. They got better, they’re definitely learning how to sword fight playing with all these guys.


The Sword Society meets Tuesdays at 8 p.m. at Rainbow City, 21 SE 11th Ave., behind Hippo Hardware. During Sword Society encounters, kids and adults can play combat with foam swords or plastic lightsabers while listening to electronic dance music. A donation of $ 5 per person is suggested at the door. For more information on upcoming events in Rainbow City, visit

– Samantha Swindler, [email protected], @editorswindler

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