Interview w/ Founders of Night of the Living Deadlift PDX

The Night of the Living Deadlift (NOTLDL) is a deadlift contest, costume contest, and dance party. This event celebrates strength and Halloween and is a great year-end party for the powerlifting and crossfit communities. Slade Sundar interviews the founders of PDX Powerlifting, Tim & Jackie Mercer, about the origins of the NOTLDL event, why fun is important, and how powerlifting has gained popularity among women in recent years.

SLADE: Running events is tough! Why did you start producing and hosting powerlifting events like NOTLDL?

TIM: Well, we started PDX Powerlifting with the goal of making powerlifting contests into events. We try to create powerlifting contests with better music, energy, prizes, and more fun.

But, none of our events embody that spirit more than Night of the Living Deadlift. It’s unsanctioned, so there are less rules, so it’s as much about the party as it is about the lifting. As a community we can let our hair down after a long competitive year, and have some fun.

We also hope this event serves as a great way for folks who have never tried powerlifting, to dip their toes in the water. We think that once folks stand on that platform for the first time, they just might be hooked.

SLADE: When I think of powerlifting, I think “very serious people lifting” – not people having fun. What prompted you to mix powerlifting with a party atmosphere?

TIM: This is a great question that really gets to the heart of our mission. All of the strength sports are growing, and you can find contests all times of the year to compete in near you.

We felt however, that many of these sports are driven by a “that’s the way we’ve always done it mentality”.  I started competing in powerlifting in the mid-90’s and most events haven’t changed at all.

We wanted to bring a fresh perspective to strength competitions, and find a way to make them super fun, while also honoring the sport. We believe that if we can do that, we can create a place where everyone is an athlete, and everyone gets to have fun. There is nothing like the experience of these events. This shit will change your life!

SLADE: Would you say this is a good event for someone (like myself) who might be a bit hesitant to start powerlifting?

TIM: This is the perfect first powerlifting contest for someone for a bunch of reasons. First, you don’t have to wear a singlet! Instead you can wear LITERALLY whatever you want! Next, it’s only one lift.

The rules are super simple, and even the technique is pretty straight-forward. Anyone can deadlift! Lastly, there is no other event that will be more fun. You can wear your costume, have an adult beverage, listen to some great tunes, AND lift in front of a bunch of loud screaming fans!

The perfect experience for a newbie, and one that just might hook you forever.

SLADE: It seems like the events are designed to be super approachable – do you get more than just powerlifters to attend?

JACKIE: Absolutely! It’s a pretty motley crew, with representation from just about every demographic imaginable. That said, it’s remarkable the way they all support each other at events.

It seems rare in sport for folks to cheer on their competitors, but we see that all the time are our events!

SLADE: Speaking of demographics, let’s switch gears a bit. I’ve noticed that the number of female powerlifters has been growing in recent years, why do you think this is the case?

JACKIE: Lifting has offered women another avenue to physical fitness, and it’s opened up the door to what’s been considered a man’s playground for so long. Women have been conditioned to think that they must only do cardio if they want to be lean and that’s unfortunately led to a cardio obsessed culture.

Society is starting to realize the numerous physical benefits to lifting weights but now more than ever the female community is starting to realize the psychological benefit to lifting. Building an appreciation for their bodies and what they can physically do, proving to themselves that they’re capable of so much more than they thought possible or have been told they’re capable of by society for so long.

Additionally I think lifting has given women a sense of control, a sense of belonging, and a true appreciation for female empowerment hence why the female lifting community is so supportive of one another.

SLADE: That makes a ton of sense! I know that events like NOTLDL are focused on fun, but how does the community interact in more competitive settings?

JACKIE: The most amazing thing you’ll notice at the powerlifting meets is women uplifting, cheering for, and encouraging other women. What we see is that females who have experienced, through lifting, the incredible transformation to feeling empowered, feeling strong, and often worthy, are in turn so eager to share that experience with other women around them.

For women, powerlifting is about realizing their own strength and breaking through self and socially imposed barriers and limitations.

SLADE: Last question, how can people sign up for the NOTLDL event on 10/27 and future events?

JACKIE: People can sign up for all the events by visiting!

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