Wednesday, January 10, 2018

OP-ED: Feelmore Is More Than Just a Sex Shop

by Nenna Joiner
Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 11:32 AM

Nenna Joiner is the founder of Feelmore Adult Gallery, located at 1703 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.
  • Nenna Joiner is the founder of Feelmore Adult Gallery, located at 1703 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.
People often associate sex stores with self-gratification, sex education, or taboo, but at Feelmore, it’s always been about more than just sex.

Before owning a brick-and-mortar retail store, I had a dream that I owned a sex shop. The following day, I went online and purchased about a hundred pieces of porn and sex toys, and I began selling dildos and vibrators out of the trunk of my 1993 gold Toyota Camry on the street corners of downtown Oakland. Selling sex toys allowed me to overcome my personal fear of the stigma tied to sex and sex work. It allowed me to develop meaningful ways to talk about topics such as sex, race, body image, and politics. While retail stores continue to close in downtown Oakland, Feelmore is still thriving, creating a space for people to shop comfortably and discretely. We’re also a date stop for couples who don’t drink. It just so happens that the late-night store that welcomes people is a “sex shop.”

Feelmore is the keeper of secrets such as: insecurities, infidelities, and sexual expression. Our ground-floor location represents a twilight zone for unlikely encounters and friendships to crystallize and collisions to occur. We make it part of our business model to hire Oakland residents referred by friends or family, as we want patrons and visitors in downtown to feel at home. The sale of each item is a story in waiting, a teachable moment to all parties involved.

Take a soft pack or a cock pump, for instance. From the perspective of a cis-gendered heterosexual person, the soft pack or the cock pump could be viewed as a novelty or an obscene sex device. However, for an individual transitioning from female to male or a lover experiencing impotence, those products can make a significant difference in their lives. We’ve had lovers of #PrisonBae come in on date night using FaceTime. A father has come in to buy his daughter Unicorns Are Jerks, which is a coloring book he thought would be a great way to have an open- ended conversation about sex. An abuelita has come in several times with a handwritten request to purchase her grandson’s masturbation sleeve.

The longer we are in business — Feb. 14 will mark our eighth year — the more we see our clients changing their relationship to sex and intimacy. It is an immense privilege to know that they choose to support us over our competitors because we meet their diverse needs. It is humbling for someone to trust you with some of their most intimate, private thoughts, knowing that we will never share them — and we never do. At Feelmore, we take pride in honoring every voice, free of judgment. We seek to build a sense of real community and belonging in a city that has endured and — continues to undergo — many uncertainties.

As an active community leader and small business owner, I adamantly believe that staying in business is important for Oakland’s morale and self-esteem. Preeminent scholars who have written about Oakland have emphasized its timelessness, resilience, grit, and determination to survive. Oakland is the City of Grit! Conceived and raised in the stomping grounds of Oakland, Feelmore is redefining the retail experience for the city, small business owners, and community residents. Feelmore is extremely excited to launch new products, workshops, and talent in 2018. Keeping with our tradition, we aim to preserve and build upon the hometown feel Oakland is known for.

At Feelmore, it’s about more than just sex — it’s personal!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Family, Friends, and Fans Pay Tribute to Rod Dibble, Oakland's Pianist

by Rick Paulas
Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 5:21 PM

  • Rick Paulas
  • RIP
A memorial was held at The Alley over the weekend for Rod Dibble, the dive bar’s resident pianist since 1960, who died on Dec. 18 at the age of 85.

Scattered through the business card-heavy detritus stapled to the walls of the Grand Avenue's beloved bar were old photographs of Dibble: There was a shot of him in 2010, celebrating 50 years behind the piano with a neon green krazy straw shaped like a music note. And there he was, waving with a joyous smile from his perch as he held mass to his karaoke congregants. And in the bar’s rarely visited afternoon hours, it was even light enough to see some of the usually obscured wall junk — including that banner on the back wall celebrating Dibble’s 66th birthday with the self-evident claim that “He’s incred-DIBBLE!”

For someone who once said he’d “be very happy to die right behind this piano here,” it was a fitting presentation, almost as if Dibble had merged with the bar itself in his afterlife.

On Saturday afternoon, the first day of the weekend-long send-off, there was a long spread of finger sandwiches, “piping-hot” wings, and snacks gracing the ancient bar, as Bryan Seet, one of Dibble’s two replacements, tickled the ivories. Friends, family, and fans of the iconic Oakland musician gathered around the piano, trading songs from the Great American Songbook and stories of the great man himself.

“Singing here around this piano was the first time I ever sang in public,” said one reveler, before launching into an old standard, then bringing in his saxophone for accompaniment.

Among the memorials on display were pages and pages of printed memorials from The Alley's Facebook page; it seemed like everyone in the city of Oakland had been touched, in one way or another, by this scene that Dibble created. There was also the hefty tome of laminated press that might as well double as a memorial to papers and writers long gone.

There was no shortage of ink spilled on Dibble’s unique place in Oakland culture over the years, including a '71 Oakland Tribune piece by Perry Phillips for his “Night Sounds” column, calling Dibble one of the only “pianobar artists still around from my early days on this beat.” And there was a pull-quote from an old profile by local writer Pat Craig, with Dibble stressing: “I'm not the piano man. God, if somebody calls me piano man, I tell them I'm the pianist, my name is Rod Dibble.”

But the most dominant element of the afternoons in The Alley were those songs, constant and pure as they ever were, even if the notes behind them felt a little heavier than before.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Rod Dibble, Beloved Pianist at The Alley, Dies

by Kathleen Richards
Wed, Dec 20, 2017 at 11:59 AM

Rod Dibble was The Alley's longstanding cocktail pianist extraordinaire. - EXPRESS FILE PHOTO
  • Express file photo
  • Rod Dibble was The Alley's longstanding cocktail pianist extraordinaire.
Rod Dibble, the longtime beloved pianist at The Alley, has died, according to a Facebook post today by the Grand Avenue bar.

Dibble was an Oakland institution. He began playing at the dive bar in 1960, and his encyclopedic knowledge of music — he had more than 4,000 songs in his repertoire — coupled with his dedication to his craft made his nightly appearances at the piano bar a spirited, community affair.

In awarding The Alley with a Best Of award for Best Retro Karaoke Bar in 2011, we wrote about Dibble: "He's adept not only at guiding the inexperienced past a variety of vocal landmines, he's a marvelous accompanist and an encouraging audience to boot."

Here's the Alley's entire Facebook post:

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Rod Dibble - the pianist for The Alley. Rod passed away peacefully on December 18, 2017. No plans for a memorial are known at this time. Please be respectful to Linda and his family at this time.
Rod Dibble was and will always be an integral part of The Alley. He kept The Alley, as well as the Great American Songbook alive by playing night-after-night, song-after-song, with singer-after-singer for the better part of 50 plus years. By all accounts, he literally wore out 10 pianos in the process. He kept The Alley going and virtually unchanged throughout the decades keeping its unique character and grit intact. While the neighborhood around it changed, The Alley and Rod remained a constant with the walls layered and caked with its history and a repertoire of songs frozen in time.
The passing of Rod may represent yet another end-of-an-era demarcation. Yet, we feel compelled to keep this place and these songs alive to pay tribute to the man who dedicated his life to keeping these songs alive, and also to keep the community and spirit he built alive. The beauty about Rod and this community is the dedication to a time when songs were melodic as well as rhythmic and their meaning transcend and endure regardless of generation. While musicals tastes have moved through Rock 'n Roll, Disco, R&B, 80s pop, and hip-hop, Rod somehow put a whole generation of songs and the piano bar concept into a time-capsule by creating a community of singers to keep it going. This community is special, these songs are special, The Alley is special, and Rod Dibble was the man that made all this special. Thank you Rod!
From The Alley Family and his community, our hearts and thoughts go out to Linda, Rod's wife, his family, close friends, regulars, and his fans all over the world.
"If music is the food of love, play on" - Shakespeare
Rod - may you play on, and on, and on.…/arts-culture/the-piano-bar/

Monday, December 18, 2017

¡Viva la Fiesta! at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library Explores a Variety of Mexican Celebrations

A First for Mexican Curator José Adrián Barragán-Álvarez

by Azucena Rasilla
Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 4:22 PM

  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla

The popularity of Disney/Pixar’s animated film Coco has brought a newfound appreciation for the indigenous Mexican celebration of Día de los Muertos. While this November holiday has been getting attention, there are plenty of other Mexican fiestas and rituals worth talking about. And you can learn all about them at ¡Viva la Fiesta!, an exhibition now on view at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library.

This is the first solo-curated exhibit of José Adrián Barragán-Álvarez, who has been the curator of Latin Americana at the Bancroft Library for roughly a year. The exhibit is also personal to him — his family is from the Mexican state of Michoacán.

The Express recently caught up with Barragán-Álvarez during a visit to the exhibit, which is rich in historical details.

“We wanted to highlight fiestas as a whole,” Barragán-Álvarez explained, “and counteract the perception among Americans, and how fiestas are actually based on tradition.”

As a trained historian, Barragán-Álvarez said it was important to make the community aware of the vast Latin Americana collection housed in the Bancroft Library. The theme around ¡Viva la Fiesta! revolves around ritual elements and indigenous traditions celebrated by Mexicans around the world.

Calendars are a staple in most Mexican households. The earliest Mexican calendars date back to the 1700s, said Barragán-Álvarez. “Calendars have ruled from naming patterns to agricultural cycles,” he said. One of the most impressive piece from the calendars collection is the Almanaque Imperial (Imperial Almanac), a book that originally belonged to Emperor Maximillian I.

  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla

Another section of the exhibit explores how Mexican people like to have fun. The perception of some is that Mexicans just love to engage in massive parties with numerous family members. While partly right, there are other forms of entertainment — attending a bullfight remains a favorite activity in Mexico, despite how gruesome it is. Fireworks, and what many call “toritos,” — elaborate structures entirely made out of fireworks — are a crucial component of fiestas. The game of loteria (similar to bingo) is a game played by Mexican families everywhere. The exhibit has a rare version of this game by Mexican political printmaker and engraver José Guadalupe Posada.

Posada is famous worldwide for his 1910 cartoon illustration of La Catrina, but what many do not know, and will discover at the ¡Viva la Fiesta! exhibit is how his drawings were used in a number of books from 1900s.

  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla
  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla

Items related to religious celebrations take up a large percentage of the exhibit, from baptismal and marriage records to Christmas texts. There are also old books about the devotion Catholics have toward saints and the Marian Catholic festivities. The Virgin of Guadalupe is regarded as the Mary of the Americas, although every region in Mexico has its own version.

There is a portion dedicated to Día de los Muertos, and a Patriotic section as well, with the most astonishing piece — what was regarded as a simple government record, an 1800s map of Mexico City — stretching seven and a half feet wide and five feet tall.

  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla

Every section of the exhibit is a chance to learn something new about these ancient traditions, which will likely be unfamiliar to those who are not of Mexican descent. The walls in the room are painted in vibrant colors, while traditional Mexican music plays in the background.

Expect Barragán-Álvarez to curate other exhibits. What is shown at ¡Viva la Fiesta! reflects a tiny fraction of the Latin Americana collection. “I hope this exhibit allows people to think about what’s here, and come to visit us and get excited to see what we have,” he concluded.

¡Viva la Fiesta! at The Bancroft Library Gallery runs through February 1, 2018; open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

REVIEW: Lupe Fiasco Plays Stellar Show at The UC Theatre in Berkeley

His show proved why he is one of the best.

by Azucena Rasilla
Sat, Dec 16, 2017 at 6:05 PM

  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla

Lupe Fiasco played his last show of the year, and luckily for his Bay Area fanbase, the Grammy-winning Chicago rapper chose The UC Theatre in Berkeley to close out his tour. The newish music venue on University Avenue operated by the nonprofit Berkeley Music Group could not have been a better choice for Fiasco’s show.

With six albums under his belt, Fiasco had plenty of songs to choose from. "Dopamine Lit," off his sixth release, DROGAS Light, set the tone for this stellar night in Berkeley: This is ain't the kind of rap the opps and the thots like/Told Trak put the bat back on the spotlight. You could hear the audience chanting the lyrics of the song in a harmonious chorus, from the front of the stage all the way to the back of the venue.

Fiasco’s fans span generations, from pre-teens who are too young to remember his first album, Food & Liquor, to those in their late 30s and older who do remember that his debut album earned him three Grammy nominations, with the song "Daydreamin’" winning Best Urban/Alternative Performance at the 50th Grammy Awards. This song, as well as "Kick, Push" were both part of the night’s setlist.

Fiasco's charisma on stage and quick freestyle flow are what make him one of the best lyricists of our generation. He joins the ranks of elite artists out of Chicago, including Da Brat, Common, Kanye West, Twista, Jeremih, and many others.

All throughout the show, Fiasco interacted with the crowd, and the fans loved him for it. During a portion of the show, he did a medley of songs, pointing out how certain songs resonate more with specific racial groups. “I have been doing this for a long time; I can tell what white people like, what Blacks and Browns like.” Songs like "Battle Scars" and "Superstar" resonate more with his white audience, while heavier tracks like “Around My Way [Freedom Ain’t Free],” “Paris, Tokyo,” “Jump,” and “Mural” resonate more with his Black and Brown fans.

There were also sporadic freestyles, and no Bay Area show is complete without paying homage to the heavy-hitters of the local music scene — Mac Dre and Too $hort. Fiasco used the “Blow the Whistle” beat for one of his freestyles.

Fiasco’s night in Berkeley was spectacular, and his fans agreed. Like one of his hit song says: Grind might feel like murder/But hip-hop, you saved my life.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Meet Jerusalem’s Biggest Hipster: Victoria Hanna

The artist will give her final performance of the Magic Spells series at Magnes.

by Nichole Bloom
Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 4:30 PM

  • Photo by Eric Portman

Jerusalem's biggest hipster, Israeli artist Victoria Hanna, has captivated the Berkeley community over the past six weeks in her performance series Magic Spells at the Magnes.

The world-renowned composer, creator, performer, researcher, and teacher of voice and language has spent the past few months at UC Berkeley co-teaching a course on Jewish nightlife with art curator and associate professor Francesco Spagnolo.

Hanna first rose to fame in 2015 with the release of her debut single, “The Aleph-bet Song (Hosha'ana),” her take on the Hebrew alphabet. The song and video are rather hypnotic and a bit peculiar, and this quirky persona helped turn Hanna into an internet sensation.

As part of her performances series at the Magnes, Hanna crafts an original interpretive piece each week based on Hebrew amulets in the Magnes' collection, which are displayed for the audience to examine during and after the show.

Hanna began working with amulets and ancient texts as a child, raised in an ultra-orthodox family in Jerusalem. “My father was a rabbi so religion and spirituality have always been a big part of my life,” she said. Hanna began posting her textual interpretations on YouTube, which caught the eye of Spagnolo.

Spagnolo reached out to Hanna via Skype, who was looking for any chance to continue to invent and explore the unknown. After several more Skype sessions, Spagnolo ventured to Jerusalem to visit Hanna and invited her to join him in Berkeley.

Hanna said her students initially seemed a little hesitant about her at, wondering “who is this cuckoo woman moving her body and making such strange sounds,” Hanna said, jokingly. Using a traditional cabalistic approach, Hanna has taught her students the “universal language of sound,” pushing them to break out of their shell. “You always learn the most when you are uncomfortable,” said Hanna.

It is this “utilizing of a UC Berkeley classroom that adds a whole other dimension to Hanna’s work,” says Spagnolo. “If a group of 19- to 20-year-old students from an array of different backgrounds can connect with such specific and ancient materials, you know you’ve uncovered something special,” he said.

Hanna said this is the power of the universal language of sound — “a unifying entity worldwide.”

Last Tuesday, Hanna’s students joined her onstage. She composes much of her performances in real time, something she sees as a privilege as Spagnolo grants her a space of total creative freedom. “It’s really important he trusts me; he tells me you do whatever you like,” said Hanna.

Hanna will give her final performance of the Magic Spells series on Tuesday, Dec. 5, as the UC Berkeley semester comes to a close. She is at UC Berkeley with the Visiting Israeli Artists Program supported by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. She's also working on her second album. Next year, she will be performing at music festivals across Australia and New Zealand before touring Europe in the spring.

Tuesday Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m., free, Magnes UC Berkeley,

Friday, December 1, 2017

Fundraiser for DJ Pam the Funkstress on Sunday

Local DJs are rallying up to help

by Azucena Rasilla
Fri, Dec 1, 2017 at 1:19 PM

  • File photo by Sam Zide

On Nov. 12, DJ Pam The Funktress announced on her Instagram page that she was canceling all her gigs until further notice due to “unforeseen medical issues.” Then, on Nov. 16, the news of her hospitalization spread on social media. There was an outpouring of support from the local music scene, as well as friends and fans of the beloved DJ. Last August, Pam was named “Best Deejay” in our Best of The East Bay issue.

While detailed information about her health issues is scarce, whomever is in charge of her social media pages has been providing updates on her condition. We know that she had surgery on Nov. 18, and a GoFundMe has been set up to help with medical bills and lost wages while she is hospitalized. The fundraiser is set at $25,000, and as of Friday morning, it was up to a little over $6,500.

On Sunday Dec. 3, a “We Love Pam” Day Party Fundraiser will take place at Liege in Oakland. The fundraiser will be hosted by Chuy Gomez, and tons of local DJs will be participating, including Mind Motion, D Sharp, Supreme, as well as local journalist/activist Davey D. All of the money raised will go towards Pam and her recovery.

SUNDAY at @liegeoakland • We come together for Pam @pamfunkstress #Pray4Pam 481 9th Street Oakland

A post shared by CHUY GOMEZ (@chuygomez) on

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Make•Do Market Creates Space for Black Women Makers and Business Owners

by Janelle Bitker
Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 11:51 AM

OwlNWood will be featured at the first Make•Do Market. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ADRIAN OCTAVIUS WALKER
  • Photo courtesy of Adrian Octavius Walker
  • OwlNWood will be featured at the first Make•Do Market.

As the holidays descend, craft and maker markets of all kinds are popping up around the East Bay as folks hunt down unique, locally made gifts. But often, these events tend to be dominated by white vendors.

“I feel like there are too many times I’ve been in those spaces and haven’t seen women of color or black women,” said Morgan H. Walker. “Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs but they also face so many challenges and make the least amount of money.”

With that landscape in mind, Walker founded Make•Do, an event productions agency focused on elevating black female entrepreneurs. Her first event, a social media workshop, took place in April. Saturday, Dec. 2 marks the debut of Make•Do Market, which she hopes to organize twice a year.

For the first edition, Walker focused on women with established brick-and-mortar boutiques and strong ties to the Oakland community, although some smaller brands make an appearance as well. Among the vendors are downtown concept shop Show & Tell, local clothing brand O.N.W., and natural beauty products boutique Concept Forty-Seven. Fuel up with a savory spread from Pleasure Principle Catering, pies from Two Chicks in the Mix, and vegan coconut ice cream from Kubé Nice Cream.

“I want it to feel like someone curated a place where I can go and find gifts and holiday outfits all in one space and also be in a space full of black women and people interested in supporting black woman-owned businesses,” Walker said.

Walker is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur who dabbled in selling clothes on Etsy, photography, and makeup work before landing in event production for nonprofits. The St. Louis native moved to Oakland two years ago, finding a city where she felt like she could finally launch Make•Do and organize her first market.

“Coming here, feeling like there was just a strong sense of community and lots of culture, I could do something like Make•Do and not spend as much time explaining why it’s important,” she said.

Make•Do Market: Saturday, Dec. 2, 4-10 p.m., VSCO HQ, 1500 Broadway, Oakland. Get free tickets at

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

REVIEW: Daniel Caesar at the New Parish

The Canadian R&B and soul singer-songwriter played a sold-out show at the Oakland venue.

by Ryan Lindsay
Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 2:26 PM

  • Photo by Ryan Lindsay

The first time I heard Daniel Caesar was not when I sat wiping tears from my eyes, watching my friend’s wedding video as they danced to “Get You.” I don’t actually remember where I was or what I was doing the first time I heard his music; I just remember I liked what I heard and I wanted to hear more from the 22-year-old Toronto native.

And speaking of Toronto, to be quite honest, the only reason I have heard of Snoh Aalegra was because another cat from Toronto, Drizzy, sampled her song “Time” on More Life’s “Do Not Disturb.” Just after 9 p.m., when the Persian, Swedish-born newcomer took the stage in a white, long-sleeve tube-crop top and silver sequined harem pants, I heard less of the Amy-Alicia-Jazmine-Janelle graininess that caught my ear while repeatedly listening to her debut album, Feels.

But the crowd felt her and that’s all that mattered. They welcomed her with hearty cheers and applause as she opened with one of my favorites, “In Your River,” a sultry, horn-driven ballad that feels like it could’ve easily been on the Goldfinger soundtrack. Perhaps Amy Winehouse, who Aalegra somewhat resembles in both sound and stature, could’ve gone on to pen a James Bond cinematic theme song, but I digress.

Aalegra’s mash-up of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do for Love,” Joe’s “I Wanna Know,” and Travis Scott’s “Goosebumps,” threw the audience for a loop in the best way possible. There were some things that didn’t quite work, like the awkward moment when her vocals played in the background so that she could attempt a few runs — we weren’t expecting that, either — but with each song, she grew more and more comfortable, and she gracefully left us eagerly waiting for Caesar.

I’m not really quite sure at what point in your career you’re allowed to have more than 30 minutes between set times. Then again, Caesar’s been effortlessly selling out nearly every show on his first tour — the stop in Oakland included. I can’t say that I wholeheartedly feel like Caesar is at that point just yet but when he hit the stage at 10:21 p.m., it was well worth the wait. Instant euphoria. He’d arrived and his choir — us — was ready.

  • Photo by Ryan Lindsay

Caesar started off with a few early joints, songs he’d crafted before Freudian dropped, before his dreads grazed his shoulders that, last night, were cloaked in a black, white, and red flannel atop a white tee. He stood, crooning to the crowd, feet firmly planted in well-worn yet still crisp black and blue hightop Jordan 1’s that greeted his relaxed chinos.

I personally went to church about five songs in, during “Hold Me Down.” I suspect that the majority of his young audience had never heard the original, tear-inducing, legendary gospel cut “Hold Me Now” by Kirk Franklin that Caesar folds into the second half of the song, but it didn’t stop me from belting out the lyrics and throwing my hand in the air like I was in a pew, dressed in my Sunday best.

Caesar closed his eyes often when he sang, gripping his white mic so closely that it touched his lips. Other times, he sang, scanning the floor and the balcony as he strummed his pristine white guitar. During the crowd-favorite “Take Me Away,” Caesar tip-toed in and out of a delicate falsetto amidst verses he sang in his earnest tenor. We bobbed and swayed to “Neu Roses,” a cozy jam that is part apology, part plea to stay, part ambiguous reflection.

Caesar’s guitar solo during “Transform,” a vibey, lush duet that he sang solo, nearly took me out. I simply wasn’t ready. He took us to church again during “We Find Love,” a poignant, bittersweet ballad about a love not meant to be, whose refrain echoes another gospel great — Donnie McClurkin’s “We Fall Down.” And, like McClurkin, he took it up a notch, building emotion and momentum, extending the song — and his hand — to fans.

If Caesar hadn’t graciously admitted that he had forgotten some of the lyrics to “Best Part” earlier in the show, we wouldn’t have known.

“Truth be told, I was in the middle of ‘Best Part’ and I forgot the words,” he said. “I gotta give you guys my best, so I’m going to do it again.”

“FUCK IT UP!” someone yelled from the audience, and fuck it up he did.

There’s something undoubtedly special about this brother, and his ability to write and sing songs that are much more than that — they’re cerebral confessions, praise and pleas that capture a range of emotions, trigger memories, and spur contemplation.

And to make you feel loved — as he did last night — by closing with “Get You,” even if, like myself, you’re not in love or in a relationship.

Monday, October 30, 2017

REVIEW: Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull at Oracle Arena

by Azucena Rasilla
Mon, Oct 30, 2017 at 1:44 PM


Over the weekend, thousands of people flocked to the Oracle Arena in Oakland, where heartthrobs Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull performed as part of a joint tour.

The two artists visit the Bay Area frequently; with similar fan bases and several collaborations under their belt, they appear to have found the perfect formula to ensure the longevity of their careers.

At the Oracle on Saturday night, adoring fans sang along to their extensive discography, while admiring Pitbull’s gorgeous dancers and their perfectly synchronized dance moves.

Iglesias took the stage first, and he made sure to let Oakland fans know that they hold a special place in his heart. His very first visit to Oakland was back in 1997 at the now-closed Henry J. Convention Center.

His setlist shuffled between his English and Spanish hits: “Freak,” “Subele a la radio,” “Bailamos,” “I Like How It Feels.”

The most memorable moment of his performance was when he brought a lucky fan onstage — a tradition of his for several years now. He ran from the main stage to a smaller one on the other side of arena, where he called out a fan named Aloha. (Her excitement to be next to the singer was palpable.) When Iglesias asked who she was there with, she replied, “my husband.”

“Aloha’s husband, for the next three minutes, your wife and I are going to date,” the singer joked. Iglesias then proceeded to serenade her and take a shot of rum with her.

His encore consisted of four songs: “Hero,” “El Perdón,” “Bailando,” and “I Like It.”

The wait between Iglesias and Pitbull’s set was rather long — more than 40 minutes — and the Cuban-American singer did not take the stage until 10:30 p.m. Thankfully, DJ Magic Matt of local radio station WILD 94.9 provided a much-needed musical set to entertain the crowd.


"Mr. Worldwide," as Pitbull famously calls himself, is an entertainer to the full extent of the word. Since his days as a local freestyler roaming the streets of Miami, Pitbull has released four mixtapes and ten studio albums, with Climate Change being the latest.

Joining him onstage was a full band with percussionists and, of course, his six female dancers, Las Mas Malas (The Most Bad Ones).

Pitbull got political right from the start: “We all bleed the same blood and breathe the same air,” he told the cheering crowd. “The universal language that brings everyone together is music.”

Pitbull swayed to some of his best songs: “Don’t Stop This Party,” “Timber,” “Fireball,” “Hotel Room Service.” He also performed a medley of some of his early recordings back when he was simply Mr. 305, including “Culo.”

His political talk continued throughout much of his set, and at one point he even took a jab at Trump: “We got a president who can’t speak but tweets a whole lot,” Pitbull told the crowd. “He claims he doesn’t want immigrants, but his wife is an immigrant.” A loud cheer from the audience followed.

While the Oakland show was supposed to mark the end of the tour, an additional six dates have been added. Their tour will conclude in Austin, Tex., on Nov. 22.

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