PDX Alliance for Self Care is a volunteer run community wellness initiative that encourages self care for people of color. Every month they host a PoC Soak Night, sponsored by a rotating group of local organizations. Common Grounds Wellness Cooperative has been hosting it. Common Grounds is pretty great in that it’s queer-run and there are queer night and women night, hours without cis-men, etc.
At first I got into spas as a social thing, to see friends. Portland is the whitest city, Oregon is the whitest state. So making affinity PoC spaces can be rather dangerous or covert, inviting being sued and etc., for excluding white people. It’s not like Oakland/LA/Chi/NYC with a lot of PoC population.
PoC Soak Night’s appeal is the appeal of seeing PoC in Portland in such a white space and in a safe space where I don’t have to code switch for white eyes or white ears. Having a common place that I’ve revisited and felt comfortable in gave me the confidence to take up more space. It helped me understand how I grow and thrive in spaces without whiteness. Then it becomes a body thing. My body does need regeneration. My body feels great when my bones are heated once again when I get all my toxins out. So this grew out of a need for mental health first and foremost, and then physical health followed.
The first few soaks felt rejuvenating. This was before Trump. Now it’s packed. As Trump got into office, this initiative for self-care was even more needed as you could see people who had been isolating themselves taking up space and catching up with friends. Which is great but I wish other spas step up to do this if they’re really about healing! Just imagine every inch of the pool and sauna is packed. It got overstimulating the last time I went in May 2019. People were so stressed out, and this was something they could go to. I don’t see it as a cruising vibe but maybe I’m wrong.
Call super early to book an appointment. There’s a certain hour that’s just for femmes. I think it’s from 7-8 so from the very beginning and that’s better before the crowds. You can get in free on your birthday!
—Spa Thought Partner May