A podcast about history

That's not stuck in the past


[The following is an excerpt from an article I recently wrote for Open Space, the online magazine of SFMOMA. I’m interested in digging deeper into the history of Oakland’s underground art scenes, so if you have any stories, photos or tips you want to share, please drop me a line at eastbayyesterday [at] gmail. Thanks, Liam]

A few months ago, on the day of Alameda County’s local elections, a friend’s Facebook post caught my attention: “You know, just going to vote in the living room of the ex-brothel, ex-underground party spot that just happens to be my polling place.” The post linked to a sparse Facebook page for a defunct “clubhouse” known as Bordello. The building’s last party was few years ago, and now it’s just a place where people live and — apparently — vote. I’m always sniffing around for stories to feature on my local history podcast, East Bay Yesterday, and this property’s history as a den of debauchery tickled my curiosity.

Judging by the comments responding to my friend’s post (“I was part of a crew that produced Louisiana-flavored shows [called] The Grand Alligator Ball there around 1980”), this was a rabbit hole worth exploring. I started my quest in the most obvious place: Google. Since this was an unlicensed party venue, I was surprised that the top search result for “Oakland bordello” was a Yelp review. A disclaimer at the top of the screen warned that “Yelpers report this location has closed,” but all the user-submitted reviews of the “music venue” were still on the page, little digital memories encased in internet amber…

Read the rest of this article at Open Space, the online magazine of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

“Yelping Oakland’s Past” featured in SFMOMA’s Open Space

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