Art Gallery Walk & Wrestling in Oakland on First Fridays
We're letting you in on the secret: Oakland is the hottest destination in the Bay Area for art. The scene has been happening for a while, but has remained relatively underground until just a handful of years ago. Now, thousands flock to the Uptown neighborhood for the First Friday street fair. On this date, take the train under the bay to check it out, and later in the evening, witness one of Oakland's most beloved and bizarre live wrestling performance: Hoodslam.
Estimated Cost: Cheap to moderately expensive
Estimate Duration: 4-6 hours
Best Days: First Friday of the month
Best Time: 6pm-midnight
Vibe: This is an outdoor street fair, followed by a crazy, punk-rock, kitschy performance. Don't dress up—prepare for debauchery.
1. Head Over to First Fridays in Uptown, Oakland
First Fridays has been a monthly tradition in Oakland since 2006, when it was started by a collective of local art gallery owners. Now, thousands of people attend, crowding onto Telegraph, which is blocked off between Grand and 27th as the main attractions are held within that area.
- This event happens the first Friday of every month from 5-9pm.
- Get there on the early side to avoid the crowds and to find parking.
- First Fridays is a short walk from the 19th Street Oakland BART station or take the Ferry over for scenic skyline views.
2. Tour the Galleries and Grab Some Grub
This event is about the art. Galleries along the strip open to the public so guests can come in an peruse the local artwork.
- Among the plethora of street food, don’t miss the meats served up by Burnt Ends BBQ.
- Classic Cars West is a great destination for a drink—has two bars set up in a vintage car shop, and occasionally offers food by local popup Hella Vegan Eats.
- You can also make a reservation at Drake’s Dealership for some of the best pizza and beer in town.
3. Head to the Main Event: Hoodslam
Walk, BART, bike or drive to the Oakland Metro Operahouse for an event unlike any other: Hoodslam. This underground theatrical wrestling performance, that was started in 2010 by Sam “The Sheik” Khandaghabadi, is like a throwback to the WWE in the ‘80s—but with more cursing and drinking.
Hoodslam’s tagline, “This is real,” is a reference to the obvious performance art of the show, and is often printed on all the merchandise up for sale at the event. Expect to see over-the-top, hedonistic and profane characters face off in a ring, surrounded by an equally rowdy audience.
- This is a 21+ event with two full bars. Don’t bring your kids.
- Tickets are about $22 in advance. Check their Facebook page for info.
- Get there early to get great spots close to the ring.