downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Posts from — February 2010

Downtown nightlife expands, so do family-friendly events

February 12, 2010

“Art bar” and nightclub Era arrived with a splash last Friday; the Oakland Tribune reports that 700 people enjoyed the 5000 square-foot, two-story lounge on its opening night. Tomorrow evening Era hosts its first dance party, featuring DJ fflood. A few blocks away, at 2022 Telegraph, Saturday sees a V-Day “Pleasure Tasting” party, featuring neo-soul music and custom-created appetizers, for a $10 cover charge. Though Uptown is increasingly sexy, it’s also the site of the city’s most depressing Valentine’s window display.

Proving itself no slouch, newly-christened Midtown continues to excite the center of downtown with art and fun. The Joyce Gordon Gallery features a show of woman-created art opening with a reception tonight, while the Layover hosts a DJ tribute to late hip-hop producer J-Dilla this evening, behind newly-installed bike racks. Further downtown, Beer Revolution is bringing amusingly-named suds to Third Street near Jack London Square, not far from the Linden Street Brewery, Pacific Coast brewpub, and The Trappist temple of beer.

But not everything downtown is adults-only or even nightlife. Tomorrow the African American Museum and Library in Old Oakland hosts a screening of African-Italian film Inside Buffalo, about a segregated WWII combat unit. The Oakland Ice Center is offering free curling classes to kids, for Canadian expatriates in our diverse, multicultural city. Farley’s East next to Era has been called one of the most family-friendly coffeshops in the Bay Area. Though other parts of Oaktown host everything from fashion to art parties this weekend, the DTO offers everything in a few square miles.


February First Friday fetes Fox

February 5, 2010

Uptown’s long-awaited Era Art Bar opens today at 4:30pm. Created by the impresarios behind several Old Oakland spots including B Restaurant, Air Lounge, and Tamarindo, Era promises to be a uniquely styled club. Era boasts hand-crafted cocktails, carefully-chosen wines, two floors for lounging, top-flight DJs, and stunning interior design. See what the buzz is about at 19 Grand Ave.

Tonight the Fox Theater celebrates its anniversary of reopening as a live-performance venue with a party at the Den. Despite not having any dedicated parking, the Fox has sold out almost all of its shows and was the top Google search term in San Francisco in 2009. Joined by the New Parish at 18th and San Pablo, the Fox is establishing Uptown as a live-music destination, though there is a growing perception the Paramount is falling behind (a position disputed by a boardmember in a recent OakBook column).

Downtown’s good news is not just about bars and nightclubs. The DTO, or more specifically Uptown, has seen several new restaurants open this short new year. Though we’re still waiting for Bakesale Betty, True Burger has opened on the same block as the erstwhile bakery, and Hibiscus at 18th and San Pablo adds a sweetly Southern note to downtown dining in a handsome historic building with a focus on Creole foods and unique cocktails.

With the announcement of Barnes & Nobles’ closure in Jack London Square, some observers mourn the passing of yet another bookstore, while others see potential for destination retail to emerge in the prominent space. On the other side of downtown, the Broadway Specific Plan, meant to outline the transformation of Auto Row into a “lifestyle” shopping center, is seeing fierce criticism from both anti-development types led by the Oakland Heritage Alliance who are critical of the goals of the project, and from urbanists who are very uncomfortable with the huge amounts of parking called for in the study (more parking than retail, actually).

Today is of course the First Friday of February, and without rain, it’s likely tonight’s Art Murmur events will be crowded. Highlights include local cityscapes at Pro Arts Gallery, a multimedia exhibition by French artist Pierre Alain Clauzin at Hatch Gallery, and a retrospective of late graffiti artist Mike “Dream” Franciso at the New Parish. From Jack London Square to Midtown to Uptown, the DTO offers art and entertainment tonight for any budget, or no budget. See you at the hot dog stand on Telegraph!