Entertainment and Events
Ballroom dancers from all around the Bay gather in Oakland on a regular basis to attend the famous Ye Gaskell Occasional Dance Society ball (1547 Lakeside Dr., www.gaskellball.com). This fabulous fancy-dress event encourages everybody to dress in their finest (from whatever era from 1800 through today, but Victorian is encouraged) to create a picture of beauty swirling around the dance floor.
You don’t need to be an accomplished dancer to enjoy Gaskell’s. Dance classes are offered during the afternoon before the ball, and a quick brush-up takes place before the official opening dance—always the Viennese waltz. Oakland’s Scottish Rite Temple provides the perfect backdrop for the silk dresses, swirling hoopskirts, and handsome tuxedos of the dancers. Even if you don’t dance much, come to admire the beautiful costumes and skillful regulars.
If you prefer a more modern beat to dance to, you can find some good live music and dancing in Oakland. Perhaps the best-known venue is, of all things, a sushi bar called Yoshi’s (510 Embarcadero Way, Oakland, 510/238-9200, www.yoshis.com, lunch Tues.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., dinner Mon.–Wed. 5:30–9 p.m., Thurs. 5:30–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5:30–10:30 p.m., Sun. 5–9 p.m., shows 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.). With the restaurant in one room and the legendary jazz club right next door at Yoshi’s on Jack London Square, it’s possible to enjoy the sushi without attending the concert, or vice versa.
The restaurant has recently been revitalized; a new chef brought in to create an up-to-date menu of raw and cooked Japanese cuisine with just enough California flair to make it different. If you’re a dinner patron, it’s a very good idea to make reservations for the show and get your seat tag on a chair before you sit down for your meal. You might see Otis Taylor or Kurt Elling in the club at Yoshi’s. Any jazz fan who’s come to the Bay Area owes it to herself to check the calendar on the website and see who’s playing while she’s in town.
Or perhaps you’d prefer DJs and cocktails. Luka’s Taproom & Lounge (2221 Broadway, 510/451-4667, www.lukasoakland.com, Mon.–Wed 11:30 a.m.–midnight, Thurs.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m., Sat. 5:30 p.m.–2 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–midnight) can give you all that, and a Sunday hangover brunch as a bonus. What spends the day and early evening as a restaurant becomes a lounge and dance club with full bar after the sun sets.
With a separate room for the DJs and dancing, and another space that serves as a full-on pool room with 45-playing jukebox, plus the Taproom with its brasserie-style food and 16 beers on tap, almost everyone can find something to enjoy at Luka’s.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition