This downtown club has a DIY-aesthetic and a diverse entertainment lineup — which represents the panoply of Caribbean music from salsa to dancehall roots to Afropop, and open mics, and proffers a savory selection of Jamaican cuisine served for lunch and the late evening.
This club, modeled after an Eastern European wooden synagogue, is a Berkeley institution dedicated to dance and music. The nonprofit venue hosts live music nearly every night, and shows are all-ages. Ashkenaz hosts reggae, bluegrass, Balkan, Brazilian, Cajun, and Caribbean bands, just to name a few. Come early for a dance class or on Sunday afternoon for a kids' concert.
During the day, the softly upholstered furniture, richly colored linens, modern-exotic lighting, and casual seating coax patrons to relax, share, and open up — even with strangers. But on weekend nights, this bar turns into a crowded, sweaty dance club, with plenty of bumping and grinding. The drinks are neither low-brow nor high-brow; they exist to lubricate social interaction, not dominate it. On Tuesdays, comedians of various stripes test their mettle before accommodating, though nonetheless real crowds. You'd never know — or maybe you would — from the blank street sign out front, featuring only a glowing neon cocktail glass: This place is the real deal.
In addition to its frequent hip-hop and DJ showcases (including local and international acts), this SOMA club features video screenings, laser shows, and multimedia installations by artists associated with Blasthaus Gallery. Whereas many conventional club DJs swipe their sets directly from Top 40 radio playlists, Mezzanine performers get a lot more creative, challenging club-goers with new music or taking old music in new, funky directions, so it's never just about moving the crowd. Boasting two tiers and a labyrinthine dance floor, the club also includes a full bar and stage.
This intimate venue books national and local bands and comedians: Acts like Mos Def, Dave Chappelle, Ra Ra Riot, Kid Sister, and Elephant Man have performed on The New Parish’s small stage since it opened in January 2010. The club has a balcony, exposed brick walls, a back patio, and barbecue served for late-night munchies.
Erected in the building that used to house the Oakland Box, this swank rock club is decked out with a classy mahogany bar inherited from the Old Spaghetti Factory, plus top-notch acoustics designed by the sound consultant at Yoshis. A lot of things have changed since the old Box days, most notably in terms of decor: Bushmamas old boutique is now The Green Room, where performers kick back before going onstage; and the clubs sign is now shaped like an electric guitar. The Uptown features local and touring acts in a variety of genres, including hip-hop, soul, rock, and ska.
Bruno's offers live music Tuesday and Thursday, featuring Jazz Mafia Tuesdays, Batanga Live! Thursdays, and DJs on other nights. Full-service Italian restaurant open until 10 p.m.
Located below street level in the Old Oakland district, the AIR Lounge exudes that upscale, VIP vibe for the urban hip. Three rooms offer plenty of space to spread out, and the cozy seating within the blue walls invites snuggling. DJs spin downtempo, soul, and world beat every Wednesday through Saturday nights. Open-mic poetry precedes music on Wednesdays.
This Jack London Square club used to be a hot spot for salsa, but these days it attracts a well-heeled, mature African-American crowd. The huge, open-aired, barnlike venue has two sides: one is a sports bar and billiards hall; the other is a nightclub, karaoke, and comedy club. In both cases, be prepared to adhere to the club's dress-code policy of hard-soled shoes and no T-shirts or sportswear for men, and "sexy attire" for ladies. DJs spin hip-hop and R&B on Friday nights, while Saturday night specifically caters to an older clientele.
This cavernous SOMA warehouse is one of the best places in SF to catch hot international DJs and boogie down to everything from Eighties raver candy to psychedelic trance while watching cool laser light shows. There are three tiers and four dance floors, lavish VIP room, perfect for showcasing multiple genres on a single evening. The smallest chamber is choky with a low canvas ceiling, while the largest room takes up two floors and features a booming sound system. The clientele is young and potentially meat-marketish, but that might be one of the clubs perks.
Tucked in an alley in San Francisco's SOMA district, 330 Ritch boasts a full-service kitchen and hosts rock bands and hip-hop DJs.
Amnesia is located right on Valencia Street in San Francisco's Mission District. It offers bluegrass and country music on Mondays. Tuesdays are generally reserved for karaoke. Wednesdays offer live jazz and late-night with Mitch Marcus' pick-up jazz session. Thursdays and Sundays have various live music from the indie scene in the city. Friday and Saturday have DJs and dancing. Some night have covers, so call ahead.