by Rachel Swan
Oakland's art scene appears to be spreading southward as it grows more fecund, with new venues cropping up in the retail corridor that abuts Grand Avenue. The latest to come before Oakland City Planning Commission are a Latin dance club called Manny's, which just got approved to open at 2120 Broadway — aka the building with the mural of a man planting an oak tree. Chilean immigrant Manuel Cabello has owned the property since 1995, but he only recently pooled enough resources to launch a club there. He says that Manny's will feature salsa, samba, flamenco, and tango nights, catered gaucho steak dinners, and dance lessons. It's designed to introduce Oaklanders to the whole panoply of Latin culture — not just the Caribbean side to which we're most familiar, he said.
The other venue, Sound Room, is still awaiting approval from Oakland's Planning Commission, since the space it leased at 2147 Broadway is currently occupied by East Bay Meditation Center, and since the meditators requested a sound study to determine whether both businesses could co-exist peacefully in the same building. Proprietor Karen Van Leuven signed a lease with the expectation that East Bay Meditation Center would move upstairs June 1st. Once they work out the kinks, it will become a non-profit art and music space similar to the Jazz Gallery in New York, with a bar to help offset the operational costs, and ensure that the performers get paid a decent wage, Van Leuven said. If the plans go through, it could be a fascinating addition to Oakland nightlife.