Hey Ladies! 

Girlstock rocks.

This one is going out to the ladies. And the tough girls, the cool chicks, and the ones who don't even want to gender classify. However you identify, you'll want to get your booty over to Girlstock #3 this weekend to check out the homegrown heroines. In its third year, this two-day event features everything a creative lady could ask for: Art, spoken word, DJs, live music, and dance will be there with bells on at this exclusively East Bay event Saturday and Sunday in Berkeley and Oakland.

The festival kicks off at Berkeley's Belladonna with the "Force of Life" art opening, featuring visual art, catered treats, and spoken word by Nicole Henares, PK McBee, Express contributor Amrah Johnson, and MoBetta. As the evening progresses, the literary talent changes guard with the musical, as Maria Q, Shelley Doty, Teri Falini, Tellus 818, Lisa Hayle, and Placenta help you get your groove on. Performer Falina, whose CD is released next month, says that her first Girlstock blew her away: "It was so great to see all these amazing women from all different genres of art."

But wait. There's more. Headlining Girlstock this year is San Francisco's own Von Iva. The sultry quartet is fronted by Jillian Von Iva, whose pipes come close to rivaling those of Janis Joplin's. Fresh off the band's West Coast tour with the Bellrays, bassist Elizabeth Davis-Simpson says that they're "really excited about doing a show that not only helps kids out, but also combines talents from so many different art forms and people." The kids who are getting help can be found at the Youth Emergency Assistance Hostel (YEAH!), a small nonprofit Berkeley group serving the homeless youth population. Founded three years ago, the group is run by four women and provides cozy quarters for homeless youth, their children, and their pets. All of the proceeds from this year's festival will benefit the hostel.

Girlstock continues on Sunday, and since any truly benign matriarchal deity would agree that Sundays are best reserved for joyful praising, what better place to show your appreciation than the White Horse Inn in Oakland for Sunday's Queer Party? Dancing in the aisles to the skillful DJ Page Hodel, DJ Olga T, Reverend DJ Leslie Abraham, and DJ Eclat is, if not mandatory, highly encouraged. If you're feeling a little hypoglycemic from all that movement, take advantage of the free snacks and beer bust (all the beer you want to drink until 7 p.m. for a mere ten bucks). There will also be door prizes and a dance contest -- the winner gets a grand prize of certain awesomeness -- and runners-up obtain lovely items as well.

To craft this hefty, eclectic lineup, Girlstock organizer Maei Thomas says she used "sort of a Wizard of Oz approach," selecting performers from art exhibits, spoken-word events, music performances, and her own circle of friends -- plus pure happenstance. She found violinist Anastasia Lund on a Berkeley street corner after exiting BART, and through an odd coincidence, found that Lund, homeless herself, actually practiced at YEAH!

While Girlstock's focus is on benefiting a worthy charity, it's also on celebrating women's creativity. Thomas sums it up neatly when she says, "You don't have to just work nine to five; you can also make art and music and have people enjoy it." Amen.

Saturday: Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St., Berkeley, $8 before 4 p.m., $12 after. Sunday: White Horse Inn, 6551 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Doors at 3 p.m., $5 before 5 p.m., $8 after. Ages 21 and up.


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