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Arts & Entertainment: Performance Venues

After undergoing an extensive renovation, this beautiful art-deco theater has come to anchor Uptown and act as one of the East Bay's premier venues for live entertainment.

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.

Opened by former Foreign Legion emcee Prozack Turner and his wife, RaeAnne, The Legionnaire Saloon provides another live music and DJ venue in Oakland’s Uptown district. Its decor, too, is in line with Oakland’s new era of bars: dark-wood paneling, wooden booths, bar stools with plush vinyl seats in hunter green and red, and retro touches: antique mirrors, vintage maps, black-and-white photographs, a jukebox loaded with 45s, and three pinball machines.

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.

This gorgeous, extravagant, two-tiered Oakland theater is an Art Deco wonder with thick paisley carpeting and a booming sound system. The Paramount features big-time local and touring acts — everything from the Oakland Ballet to George Lopez to Bob Dylan — plus occasional screenings of classic Hollywood movies. Located close to 19th Street BART station.

Thrashing, crashing, vocal-cord-straining, pounding-your-ears-and-obliterating-your-will-power rock. You know you love it. And the Stork Club is where rock makes its home. Tuesday through Sunday starting around 9:30 p.m., cover is usually just $5. Happy-hour DJs spin rock and punk tunes, a bluegrass jam happens on Mondays and Storking Comedy takes place on Tuesdays. The honky-tonk-style bar is decked out with red and yellow tinsel, Christmas lights, rubber-seated booths, a pool table, a jukebox, an extensive Barbie collection, and a tawdry, winter-wonderland atmosphere.

This recently restored large venue dates back to the Art Deco era, when jazz big bands like Count Basie swung almost every night. These days, the occasional live act saunters through to add to the history.

This Jack London Square anchor tenant lives up to its claim of world-class jazz; everyone from McCoy Tyner to John Scofield comes by at least once a year, and you can also occasionally catch rising stars and school bands in addition to big-name national acts. The acoustics are marvelous, the sushi is fresh and good, and the grilled calamari is also recommended. Tickets range from $5 for a Sunday afternoon children's matinee (with paid adult admission) to upwards of $100 for a special event. Two shows nightly on the weekend.

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