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Luka's Taproom & Lounge (2221 Broadway, Oakland, 510-451-4677, LukasOakland.com) boasts a long list of sexy amenities (a rotating art exhibit, a spacious dance floor, a vast selection of beer and a menu that includes killer burgers, fries, and oysters), and it's spitting distance from the 19th Street BART station, so you can get your swerve on without getting a DUI.
Mimosa Champagne Lounge (2355 Broadway, Oakland, 510-891-1005, MimosaChampagneLounge.com) with its slender cocktail glasses and sparkling wines (nineteen total, along with twenty-three champagnes and five mimosas), is not a dance club, but the vibe is so light and frothy, it's like a bottle of champagne being uncorked.
Mua (2442a Webster St., Oakland, 510-238-1100, MuaOakland.com), a fabulous addition to the Oakland restaurant scene, turns into a nightclub around midnight. With its warehouse chic decor and decidedly Oakland clientele, it's a guaranteed good time.
Ruby Room (132 14th St., Oakland, 510-444-7224, MySpace.com/OaklandRubyRoom), where the DJs spin a wall-to-wall soundtrack of punk, glam rock, and kitschy hip-hop classics, is one of the best places in Oakland to chat up sassy indie kids while drinking stiff, cheap drinks.
Somar Bar and Lounge (1727 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, SomarBar.wordpress.com) has exposed brick walls, high ceilings, and lots of art on the walls. DJs spin everything from house to hip-hop, and soul to Brazilian music.
Thalassa (2367 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-848-1766, ThalassaBar.com) has a sea of pool tables that seems to stretch for miles, a clientele that consists mostly of Berkeley students of the fraternal or sororal persuasion, and the best jukebox in the East Bay, stocked with the Buzzcocks, the Notwist, Le Tigre, Television, Outkast, Johnny Cash, and the Pixies.
White Horse Inn (6551 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-652-3820, WhiteHorseBar.com), affectionately known as "the White Ho" by locals, draws a good cross-section of the local GLBT scene: sweater queens, queer students, local homies, granola dykes (yes, they still exist), gorgeously regal African-American queens, both male and female, and just about every other color and creed you can imagine.
Clubs & Music Venues — East Bay
924 Gilman (924 Gilman St., Berkeley, 510-525-9926, 924Gilman.org) — Berkeley's famous all-ages punk warehouse — still caters primarily to kids with backpacks, bad attitudes, and too much eyeliner, but this volunteer-run, alcohol-and-drug-free venue is the best place in town to catch famous punk bands (both local and national) for five bucks.
Ashkenaz (1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-525-5054, Ashkenaz.com) is the place to dance to everything from Algerian rai to Louisiana Zydeco to roots reggae.
The Bistro (1001 B St., Hayward, 510-886-8525, The-Bistro.com) offers live music every night — mostly local musicians, from blues to surf, acoustic, bluegrass, and eighteen-piece bands.
Caffe Trieste (2500 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-5198, CaffeTriesteBerkeley.com) could make anyone sentimental for the old country, even if they're native Californians — especially on Sunday afternoons, when Pappa Gianni is playing with his North Beach Band and crowds of Italian expatriates pack themselves into this inviting cafe.
Eagles Hall (2305 Alameda Ave., Alameda, 415-285-6285, SFZydeco.com) on Friday nights is the friendly, lively nexus of Zydeco-crazed Bay Area fans.
Everett & Jones Barbeque's (126 Broadway, Oakland, 510-663-2350, EandJBBQ.com) in-house music venue, Q's Lounge and Dotha's Juke Joint, showcases a variety of neo-soul, hip-hop, and blues acts, along with Monday Night Football and live KSFO broadcasts recapping Raiders home games.
Freight & Salvage (2020 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-644-2020, FreightandSalvage.org) is a nonsmoking, alcohol-free venue where patrons can enjoy listening to world-renowned artists of folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass, and world beat.
Kimball's Carnival (522 2nd St., Oakland, 510-444-6401; 215 Washington St., Oakland, 510-444-6136, KimballsCarnival.com) — the giant Jack London Square club whose Monday night karaoke event has garnered a regular following via word of mouth alone — is the closest thing you'll find to American Idol-style pageantry here in the East Bay.
La Peña Cultural Center (3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-849-2568, LaPena.org) hosts a variety of hip-hop, world, and jazz music; spoken word; dance classes; art exhibits; films; and lectures focusing on social justice and human rights about four nights a week.
Lounge 3411 (3411 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland) transmits some Uptown flavor to the lower hills, with its mix of reggae DJs, comedy nights, and local bands.
Maxwell's Lounge (341 13th St., Oakland, 510-839-6169, MaxwellsLounge.com) is a glitzy downtown Oakland club that hosts R&B, funk, and classic soul acts and features a spacious dance floor, large stage, lounge areas with couches, and a Cajun-style soul food restaurant.
The New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland, 510-444-7474, TheNewParish.com) has featured such hard-to-get headliners as Dave Chappelle, Mos Def, and Melanie Fiona. Creative booking, strong industry connections, and a bangin' monthly house party have made it the new destination in downtown Oakland.
Nomad Cafe (6500 Shattuck Ave., Oakland, 510-595-5344, NomadCafe.net) tempers the typical soy-latte-and-laptop cafe experience with a soothing singer-songwriter performance.
Oakland Metro Operahouse (630 3rd St., Oakland, 510-763-1146, OaklandMetro.org) is generally used as a performance space (it's the home of the Oakland Opera Theater), but you'll also find the occasional live metal, indie rock, punk, underground hip-hop, or alt.folk show here, as well as the famed variety show Tourettes Without Regrets, which features slapstick comedy, meat-hurling contests, formidable freestyle battles, spoken-word poetry, and dirty haiku — usually to sold-out crowds.
Seven Days - February 24, 5:52 PM
Culture Spy - February 23, 2:42 PM
What the Fork - February 23, 2:12 PM
Seven Days - February 21, 3:30 PM
Culture Spy - February 19, 1:45 PM