Oakland Is Girl Town
The city across the bay has that cool girl cool, if you know what I mean
If San Francisco is the playground for gay boys, Oakland is the world of queer girls.
Oakland’s got edge, that cutting edge that is Shane, from the L Word, cool, you know what I’m saying?
Oakland is the sunnier, funkier and hipper younger sister to the posh and sophisticated San Francisco. Once considered the “Black City” or Harlem West, Oakland rebranded its coolness being dubbed the Brooklyn of the West Coast within the past decade and it has recently come into its own, but hey, the ladies – gay and straight – all knew that.
Oakland not only boasts of having more sun, but women priced out of San Francisco have flocked to the city since the Dot Com Boom of the late 1990s. Many lesbians were displaced from the Mission, the city’s former lesbihood, only to find a happy Avalon in Oakland. Word spread and eventually Oakland boasted the highest queer girl population per capita than any other major American city, according to the Williams Institute.
Oakland isn’t only for Sapphic sisters, their straight counterparts have falling in love with the charm of the funky and quaint “Oaktown,” as its nicknamed, and have been making their own mark opening their own business from boutiques to restaurants and more.
Women love Oakland for many reasons.
Oakland native Sheila E simply said, “There are so many things it’s hard to give you a short version,” about why she loves Oakland.
Celebrity Chef Preeti Mistry, who owns Juhu Beach Club, in the Temescal neighborhood, decamped from San Francisco to Oakland about two years ago on the cusp of when people began realizing just how cool Oaktown is.
The Bravo TV Top Chef alum wondered why she and her business and life partner of nearly 20 years, Ann Nadeau, hung onto living in San Francisco long after their friends made the move across the bay.
“Why in the hell did we wait so long? Our entire community is here,” asks Preeti, talking about randomly running into many of their friends within the first week of moving to Oakland.
“Especially being a queer woman of color I feel like even more so my community is here,” continues Preeti.
Amber Todd, co-founder and chair of chair of Oakland Pride Committee, which produces Oakland Pride, which is celebrating its fifth year, couldn’t agree more.
“I’m absolutely accepted for who I am and for what I represent,” says Amber, who is a biracial lesbian and mother who is proud to raise her children in a diverse city where they don’t feel out of place or deal with ignorance about whom they are and who their family is. “That’s one of the best parts about Oakland and the East Bay in general, everyone is open and in most cases everyone is mixed with a little something.”
Preeti has noticed that all of the young kids who work for her at the restaurant are bypassing living in San Francisco opting for Oakland, “That’s where everything is happening. That’s where all of the cool people are,” one of her waitresses tells her about why she chose Oakland over San Francisco.
This weekend Oakland is going to show its pride during Oakland Pride, August 29 – 31.
The annual celebration, which is the second largest in Northern California attracting upward of 50,000 attendees, is turning five and they are celebrating with adding a Pride Parade that will lead into the annual festival, with the theme, “Pride is Oakland. Oakland is Pride.”
The festival is also celebrating local girl Sheila E, who is headlining the party (show begins at 6 p.m.) as well as marching in the parade as a celebrity grand marshal.
The Emmy and Grammy award nominee and hit maker with songs “The Glamorous Life,” “A Love Bizarre,” and “Erotic City” recently released her first album in 12 years, Icon, and will release her tell-all memoire, The Beat of My Own Drum: A Memoir, September 2.
The Pride Parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. at 14th Street and will march down Broadway to 20th Street right through the festival gates. The festival starts at 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., when the After-Pride Block Party gets pumping until midnight.
Sheila E won’t be the only woman singing proud at Pride.
The Womyn’s Stage at Oakland Pride, which the theme this year is “We Run the World,” has an amazing lineup of live female performances and DJs, says Christiana Remington, director of the stage. Women will be able to put their hands up in the air with performances by Aisha Fukushima, Moon Candy, Breathless (a.k.a. Honey B), Princetonation, Nina Ross, Blu Sugar and get their groove on with spinstresses Durt, Lady Ryan, La Rumorosa, Slum B, Jac A Tac and the legendary Page Hodel.
Women can catch live performances by more than five female artists and five DJs at 3 p.m. up until Sheila E performs on Franklin Street between 17th and 19th Streets.
The Womyn’s Stage will also march with Pride down Broadway on Sunday.
Christiana wants to see more women come out, she says.
She still finds it ironic that “there is such a culture of women in the Bay Area like the East Bay,” and yet, it’s still an independent community stage put together by her production team of volunteers.
It’s all worth it if it gets, “our community out there and represent all women,” she says. “That would be great.”
With all this girl power, why would you stay home fondling the remote control and petting your cat? Better yet, why wouldn’t you move to Oakland?
Where To Get Your Groove On
Oakland Pride Weekend, which is also Labor Day Weekend, is going to be filled with a ton of parties, but mostly for men. Yeah, Girls That Roam is putting on our sad face too, but fortunately, fiveTEN Oakland Events and Oakland mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan are our party sheroes Saturday and Sunday night.
To find the ladies head out to:
Saturday, August 30, Rebecca kicks off the night with her own, Rebecca Kaplan’s Fabulous Pride Party at the Bench and Bar starting at 5:30 p.m. The party is just a warm up for the evening’s offerings.
For girls and queer hip hop performances, fiveTEN Oakland Events’ presents Cakes Da Killer with special performances with Zulu Nasty, Jocquese, and Aima the Dreamer. On the tables are DJs Lady Ryan, Val G, Fusion and Motive at The New Parish, 579 18th Street, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The girls at fiveTEN Oakland Events wrap up Oakland Pride Weekend with the fiveTEN Oakland After Pride Party, Sunday, August 31, featuring Zulu Nasty and with DJs Lady Ryan, Val G, Motive, Trinity spinning the latest dance hits at Parliament, 811 Washington Street, from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Okay, we can’t deny that going out with our gay boyfriends is ultra fun, so girlfriends, here’s where to get your groove on with your best gay guy during Oakland Pride Weekend:
Pride Happy Hour and Karaoke at the Bench and Bar, 510 17th Street, running from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Several comedians will be out at Club 21 making the crowd roar with laughter, starting at 8 p.m.
Gay cowboys will kick up their heels with drink specials and live music by Codigo V. at the annual Vaquero Kick-Off Party Friday, August 29 at the Bench and Bar starting at 4 p.m.
Also Friday night, Latin Explosion features Diva Lola’s Birthday Bash, including an ice bucket fundraiser challenge, and a Latin Pride Kick Off Party with performances by Miss Lulu and Jack, plus DJ Carlitos spinning Latin, Top 40 and House at Club 21, 2111 Franklin Street.
The celebrations really get going Saturday night, August 30, making it opportune for party-hopping.
La Bota Loca Pride Party presents Tania Soto with Band OBM and a special performance gets the Latin juices flowing at Club 21, from 9 p.m. to closing.
Club Rimshot’s Stripper Battle, with sexy strippers battling it out on the dance pole all night long, shouldn’t be missed. DJ Rum in the Mixx will spin the beats at Bench and Bar.
Sunday features several after-Pride parties, just in case you don’t want the weekend to be over, head out to:
La Bota Loca’s Closing Party inside the club includes Banda Cienega live on stage and an expected packed house with DJ Fabricio playing from 7 p.m. to closing.
If Latin beats aren’t your thing, head over to the Epic Oaktown Bash at Bench and Bar, for Club Rimshot’s massive Hip-Hop and House party at Bench and Bar with DJs David Harness, Olga T and Rum.
And for more fun, the historic White Horse Bar at 6551 Telegraph Avenue features Xelle headlining and DJ Porn Star spinning starting at 7 p.m.
Where To Chow Down
Looking for some grub to satisfy that hunger after working up a sweat on the dance floor or simply to have something other than festival food? Head out to Juhu Beach Club (5179 Telegraph Avenue; 510-652-7350; ; JuhuBeachClub.com) for a little modern twist on Indian food. Make the hike to Kainbigan (2101 14th Avenue; 510-842-8591; Kainbigan.com) for a little Filipino nosh or catch a sample at the fiveTEN Oakland Pride After Party.
Make a quick escape from the Pride crowds at Spice Monkey (1628 Webster Street; 510-268-0170; SpiceMonkeyRestaurant.com) or get away from it at Chop Bar (247 4th Street, #111; 510-834-2467; OaklandChopBar.com). Or catch a seat and a great meal at Lake Merritt at The Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill (1520 Lakeside Drive; 510-208-5253; TheLakeChalet.com)
Where To Get Cool Things
We know you want to look good, to get the cool duds or the cutest clothes check out Show & Tell Concept Shop (1427 Broadway; 510-463-4964; SquareUp.com/Market/Show-and-Tell). Located in downtown Oakland this shop offers androgynous and hip clothing and just plain cool stuff.
Oh and just in case you meet a hot chick and you want to turn up the heat, you might want to check out Feelmore Adult Gallery (1703 Telegraph Avenue; 510-891-0199; Feelmore510.com) located in the Uptown neighborhood, which has grown in recent years into Oakland’s gayborhood, or Good Vibrations (3219 Lakeshore Avenue; 510-788-2389; GoodVibes.com) in Oakland’s Lakeshore neighborhood on the East side of Lake Merritt.
Where To Get Good Bed Head
Currently, the Oakland Marriott City Center (1001 Broadway; 510-451-4000; Marriott.com/Hotels/Travel/Oakdt-Oakland-Marriott-City-Center) and the Courtyard Oakland Downtown (988 Broadway; 510-625-8282; Marriott.com/Hotels/Travel/Oakcd-Courtyard-Oakland-Downtown) are the only game in town as far as downtown hotels are concerned. The other option is the Imperial Inn (490 West MacArthur Boulevard; 510-653-4225; ImperialInnOakland.com), which is located near the trendy Temescal neighborhood.
Getting from Point A to Point B
Don’t mess with traffic and parking in Oakland. That’s the quickest way to get into a bad mood. Instead, trust a good friend (called AC Transit and BART) who is also your designated driver so you can have a good time. These public transit options will get you where you want to be with no muss and no fuss.
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