The world-class UC Berkeley doesn’t just draw the co-ed crowd; some of the best and most refined minds in the world pop through the small city, and they need to go out and have fun too.
Visiting professors and doctoral candidates need something a little headier than billiards and card games to get their juices following. And that’s why Berkeley has so many artsy and enlightened nightlife options. Theaters, performing arts centers and live music joints: this is how Berkeley gets down.
The anchor of the Downtown Arts District, the Berkeley Repertory Theater is one of the longest standing and most well-respected theaters in the Bay Area. The nonprofit arts space brings high-quality productions to a discerning crowd, and offers educational and enrichment programs for local youth.
Multicultural, multi-generational, multi-disciplinary: La Pena is all about coming together and celebrating diversity. The focus is on Latin American heritage and arts; the community center was founded in 1975 in response to the military coup in Chile, and continues to be an important meeting place for the Bay Area Chilean expat community. Spoken word events, open mics, music shows and dance performances can be enjoyed virtually every night of the week—plus a Spanish conversation class or two.
Think La Pena, but with a lot more hip shaking. The nonprofit cultural center is similarly focused on community, but even more dedicated to partying. Learn to Salsa, Mambo and Tango with nightly workshops and performances, set to the tune of live bands.
Run by the university and located on campus, Zellerbach Hall is a nexus of all things Berkeley. Northern California’s largest presenter of the performing arts, CalPerformances hosts visiting lecturers and a year-round schedule of first-rate dance, music and arts performances. Traveling acts as well as the university’s own musical stars perform here.
This historic venue offers premier music shows to an all-ages crowd. The nonprofit arts center focuses on traditional American music; jazz, blues and rock tend to be the mainstays, with a state-of-the-art sound system enhancing the shows. The smoke- and alcohol-free venue makes for the hippest family-friendly nightlife spot in town.