IN OAKLAND, THE PARTY is never constrained to the weekends. In fact, throughout any given month, there are plenty of opportunities to “turn up” virtually any given day of the week, for locals and tourists alike. Here’s a seven-day guide for going out in Oakland and exploring the nightlife in the Bay Area’s hippest city.
In Oakland, a “case of the Mondays” comes with something special; namely, you should hit up the popular Uptown Nightclub on Telegraph Ave, between 19th and William, for the weekly burlesque and variety performance by the Bay Area’s own world-famous Hubba Hubba Revue. The club, known for strong and reasonably priced drinks, hosts a variety of acts throughout the week and has a loyal local following.
For a slightly classier evening of craft brews and good company, head to The Trappist in Old Oakland, on 8th between Broadway and Washington. With a killer rotation of Belgian beers and a dedicated clientele, it’s a great way to see where Oakland locals go to decompress early in the week.
Last Monday of the month? I couldn’t not mention Nerd Nite East Bay, a regular night of drinking and geeking out to lectures (for example, June’s event featured bees and adult dodgeball). They also have DJs and live performers. My kind of Monday night party.
Believe it or not, the week really starts to pick up after Monday. At SomaR Bar, just around the corner from the Uptown, it’s 2-for-1 drinks night, which always makes for a good start to the evening. Or maybe you’re looking for something a bit more chill, preferably involving food? Shoot over for what some locals call “the only real Taco Tuesdays” at Lounge 3411 on MacArthur, where they serve a variety of gourmet Thai, Korean, Mexican, and Filipino style tacos and epic drinks…and have a brass pole in the middle of their dancefloor for a little later in the evening.
Then again, if you’re in the mood to get your groove on immediately, bounce to the Layover Music Bar & Lounge on Franklin between 15th and 17th, where the music bumps all night on Tuesdays — at no cover charge.
It’s hump day, so for something completely different, and a wholly different flavor of Oakland, check out the Ecstatic Dance, which happens every Wednesday and Sunday. This “good clean fun” event (hosted in the massive Historic Sweet’s Ballroom on Broadway) is all about acceptance, and dancing as freely (read: strangely) as you want with a crew of like-minded individuals from all walks of life.
Afterward — or even beforehand — scoot over to local favorite Lost & Found for some killer eats (I hear the pulled pork is superb) and an extensive selection in their beer garden. The best part? They have ping pong and carnival games like beanbag toss (which they call corn hole…for whatever reason).
It’s Thursday — welcome to the “weekend.” If you’re in the mood for some dancing with a bit more structure than yesterday’s ED, jet to Shadow Ultra Lounge in Oakland Chinatown, where it’s Salsa Night (in fact, Thursday seems to be the weeknight for salsa dancing in the area). This ultra-chic lounge hosts lessons in the early evening and salsa dancing for the rest of the night.
For a little taste of the islands, you can also head to Kona Club on Piedmont (just below Mountain View Cemetery, which you should definitely hit up earlier in the day for some of the best views of the bay). One of the last great tiki bars, the laid-back, jukebox-style atmosphere is perfect for gearing up for the weekend to come. Plus, they have a volcano that erupts periodically, and it’s regularly described as being just a few robotic birds shy of the Tiki Room at Disneyland…except for adults. What’s not to love?
Thank God it’s Friday. Whether it’s the first Friday, the second Friday (both of which are huge monthly arts and music nights, especially along Telegraph), or any other Friday of the month, this is the night you’ve been resting up for. Kick it off calm with Friday Nights @ OMCA, a weekly gathering of food carts and popup shops that assemble in front of the Oakland Museum of California after dark. Pay half-price admission to get into the museum, where you’ll find movie screenings, live bands, art demos, and more (based on the theme of the week).
If you planned ahead, you might be hitting up a high-profile show at the famous Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley, or maybe you’ll squeak into the Fox Theater to catch a world-class DJ spinning their chart-toppers.
If not, The Night Light on 3rd and Broadway offers a great alternative as one of the premier clubs in Jack London Square. With good vibes, a hearty helping of ’90s and early 2000s hip hop, and a photo booth that uploads directly to Facebook, The Night Light has all the makings of a Friday
evening for the books.
Roll out of bed in the afternoon, grab a burrito, and have a low-key Saturday day, because when night comes you’ll want to bring your A-game. Start at Nido Kitchen & Bar, an upscale Mexican joint on Oak Street. Between the fabled ceviche and ollita de pobre, there’s a reason Oakland locals and food critics alike are making quite the fuss about it. From there, kick off the night feeling cool at Cafe Van Kleef on Telegraph. Nothing makes me feel like a beatnik-badass like being surrounded by art while grooving to some live jazz.
Second Saturday of the month? You’re in luck, because that’s the night of the ever-popular Hella Gay Dance Party at Uptown Nightclub, where resident and special guest DJs spin the cutting-edge of club music, moombahton, dubstep, trap, and hip hop. Don’t be fooled by the name — the party is open to anyone looking to have a great time.
No matter where your Saturday night in Oakland may take you, aim to end up on Telegraph around 17th so you can take advantage of a brand-new and entirely awesome service: the Night School bus. This company, using off-duty school buses, shuttles between the East and West Bay till 4am so you can keep the party going till early (check their website for updates on their official launch date).
What a week, but we have one night to go. Sunday is fun-day at Caña on Lake Park Ave. If you’re looking for a solid Cuban restaurant to show off the salsa moves you learned at Shadow earlier in the week, this is the place to do it — they have a live salsa band that plays all day. Later in the evening, head over to The New Parish on 18th between San Pablo and Jefferson. Aside from routinely epic lineups of local and world-class talent, Sundays are when they host their “King of Kings” party, a weekly dancehall and reggae fest.
Otherwise, perhaps you should call it an early one, since it all starts again tomorrow.