While San Francisco gets all the shine for its status as a historic LGBTQ mecca, Oakland has long had a thriving queer scene, and — still unbeknownst to many who associate Pride with The City — our official Pride comes around at the beginning of every fall. Much like many facets of Oakland culture, the queer and trans community here is incredibly diverse, and there are many LGBTQ events leading up to the September 11 community festival that showcase The Town's penchant for activism and its egalitarian ethos. Without further ado, we've compiled a list of parties and concerts leading up to the main event that showcase the LGBTQ community's many creative minds and boundary-pushing artists.
Club Chai Presents: Abdu Ali, Nargiz, The Dance Pit, 8ulentina
I'm Mike Tyson with a limp wrist snarls Baltimore rapper Abdu Ali on "I'm Alive (Humanized)" from his recent mixtape, MONGO. The blistering track combines hard-edged snares with psychedelic sitar samples. Ali's flow is relentlessly aggressive, with the hook I'm alive, I'm alive/Don't be surprised punctuating his fiery verses. It's a powerful affirmation that underscores the ways that Ali owns his Blackness and his queerness throughout his body of work. The Baltimore up-and-comer combines vogue-worthy house beats steeped in his city's storied underground club scene with plenty of jarring, experimental electronic effects that align his music with the lineage of noise and punk, as well. He comes to Oakland to perform at Club Chai (which won "Best Dance Party to Hear Music from Istanbul to Oakland" in our latest Best of the East Bay issue) along with Philly international mashup queen Nargiz, experimental beatmaker The Dance Pit, and Club Chai co-founder 8ulentina.
Sat., September 3, 10 p.m. Real Time & Space (125 10th St., Oakland). $10.
Swagger Like Us Featuring Jasmine Infiniti
Jasmine Infiniti came up in New York's ballroom scene, a queer subculture known for its colorful, gender nonconforming fashion and dancing, and pageant-like events where performance collectives known as houses strut their stuff and show off their best moves. Voguing, a dance style with ostentatious, angular movements that take inspiration from fashion magazine poses, is ballroom's main cultural export, and Infiniti's pulsating DJ mixes combine vogue beats with hip-hop vocal samples and glitchy effects that contextualize Infiniti's work in cyberspace rather than any physical realm. The DJ and producer, who is trans, has been intentional about creating safe spaces for trans people of color in Oakland's nightlife scene, and her collective New World Dysorder puts on shows at various venues that are diverse, experimental and, above all, fun. Infiniti performs at the Oakland edition of the San Francisco queer hip-hop party Swagger Like Us, along with davO of the queer electro-pop duo Double Duchess and DJ and ballroom vet One A aka Gehno Aviance.
Fri., Sept. 9, 9 p.m. White Horse Bar (6551 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). $10.
Soulovely Oakland Pride Edition
The brainchild of DJs Lady Ryan and Emancipacion and rapper-host Aima the Dreamer, Soulovely is a summer-only day party heating up the patio at The New Parish. The September edition (because here in the East Bay, the warm weather really lasts until October) coincides with Oakland pride and is the go-to after party destination. Last year on Pride weekend, the dance floor was packed with a lively, intergenerational crowd of mostly queer folks of color. Lady Ryan and Emancipacion make a point to spin selections of hip-hop, R&B, house music, and more that are free of misogynistic lyrics and have empowering themes. The feel-good vibes at Soulovely are contagious, just make sure to get there before it gets too crowded.
Sun., Sept. 11, 3 p.m. The New Parish (1743 San Pablo Ave., Oakland). $5, $10.
Oakland Pride Starring JD Samson
JD Samson started out as part of riot grrrl originator Kathleen Hanna's 2000s pop project Le Tigre, which brought a more electronic take to the feminist punk ethos the original riot grrrl movement was known for. While Le Tigre currently isn't active as a band, Samson split off as a DJ and producer to start the band and performance art collective MEN with fellow Le Tigre member Johanna Fateman. With albums such as Labor and Talk About Body, MEN uses dance music to engage with topics surrounding gender identity, sexual expression, and more. Samson has a knack for turning up dance floors with thumping beats and making listeners think at the same time. At her show at Starline Social Club, this butch icon will definitely get your body moving.
Sun., Sept. 11, 3 p.m. Starline Social Club (2236 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland). $10- $20.
Tragic Queendom Oakland Pride Edition
Tragic Queendom is Oakland's new drag party taking place at Night Light every Second Sunday. It takes its name from No Doubt's album Tragic Kingdom, and the first edition of the event was an homage to Nineties and early Aughts style icon Gwen Stefani. Since then, each edition of Tragic Queendom has typically had a fun, pop culture-related theme. And the pride edition is dedicated to hip-hop queen and girl power icon Missy Elliot. The party features a roster of diverse gender-nonconforming performers, many of whom defy drag clichés. This month's event promises performances by Isentress LaHaine, FEMA de LaHaine, Nicki Jizz, Avocado Grace Jones, and Fiera, as well as music by DJ Power Top Ramen.
Sun., Sept 11, 10 p.m. Night Light (311 Broadway Ave., Oakland). $5.