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Arts & Entertainment

This weekend: Beyoncé listening party, Pancakes & Booze, bachata festival & more

A illustration using an image of Beyonce
Illustration by Doni Conner

The phrase “highly anticipated” is something of a cliché in the music press. But when it comes to Queen Bey… well, that’s a different story.

Beyoncé’s newest album, Renaissance, officially drops on Friday, and its release—though somewhat spoiled yesterday by cries of a leak on social media—is nonetheless going to be an event. We are confident there will be numerous listening parties held all over the country and throughout the Bay Area—but we’ve found you one that’ll be held on the Bay.

Also, on Friday, GZA of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan performs his masterful solo album, Liquid Swords, in its entirety at the Great American Music Hall—and VIP ticket holders will be able to challenge one of Staten Island’s finest to a game of chess.

Thursday, July 28

Girlfly 2022

CounterPulse, 80 Turk St. 
July 28 & 29, 7 p.m. | $5 – $25; Free for children under 12

Artistic black and white photos of people
After a month of training with Flyaway Productions, outstanding local youth showcase their newly acquired aerial skills in a performance at CounterPulse. | Courtesy of CounterPulse

Watch some of the city’s most outstanding youth change-makers take flight in this showcase of off-the-ground dances—the culmination of a monthlong training hosted by aerial dance company Flyaway Productions and the Museum of Craft and Design, with support from choreographers Jo Kreiter (the founder and Artistic Director of Flyaway) and Megan Lowe and textile artists Ayana Brumfield and Charlotte Jones. (CJC)

Pancakes & Booze 

Public Works SF, 161 Erie St. 
July 28 & 29, 7:30 p.m. | $10 – $20

An art show seen from above
Explore wall-to-wall art at Pancakes & Booze's down-to-earth art show at SF's Public Works. | Courtesy of Pancakes & Booze

Friday, July 29

The International San Francisco Bachata Festival

Hyatt Regency San Francisco, 50 Third St.
July 29 – 31, 9 a.m. | $80 – $250

One, two, three, hip sway. These are the basics of bachata. Originating from the Dominican Republic, bachata is a sultry dance full of hips and dips, and you can learn more about it at the International San Francisco Bachata Festival this Friday at the Hyatt Regency. With over 50 dance classes and workshops, there’s something for every skill level and different forms of dance, such as traditional bachata, jazz and salsa. This three-day festival, led by talented instructors from all over the globe, offers a different showcase each night as well as a social dancing event so you can show off your new moves with the other participants. (XL)

Ballet 22: ‘Juntos’ 

Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, 2 Marina Blvd.  
July 29 & 30, 7 p.m. | $20 – $100

A group of performers
Ballet 22 continues its bold tradition of defying gender norms in dance with its latest program of reimagined classics and new works at Fort Mason's Cowell Theater. | Courtesy of Ballet 22

Oakland-based dance company Ballet 22 has broken barriers and defied gender norms by pairing male, male-identifying and non-binary dancers together en pointe since its adventurous founding during pandemic Zoom classes. The performance troupe makes another big leap this weekend at Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater—the largest venue the group has danced in to date. Featuring an all-new cast, Ballet 22 reimagines excerpts from ballet classics like Don Quixote and La Sylphide as well as new works by choreographers Fernando Ramos and Natasha Adorlee, and the first IRL, SF performance of Juntos by dance-maker Joshua A. Slayton. (CJC) 

GZA Chess Challenge + ‘Liquid Swords

Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St.
8 p.m. | $30+

If the quality of a chess game is determined by the competition, what happens when one of the players is GZA, a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan? Incredibly, this is not a rhetorical question, as the rap legend himself is offering to take on locals for a series of one-on-one chess matches before his Friday night concert at Great American Music Hall. Looking to get your Bobby Fischer on? You’ll need to swoop one of two forms of VIP tickets: It’s $100 to watch, $200 to play. The whole thing serves as a precursor to the evening’s main event: GZA performing his foundational 1995 album, Liquid Swords, in full. Born in Brooklyn, GZA’s influence on rap—as a member of Wu-Tang, as a solo artist, a producer and so much more—only continues to grow as the now 55-year-old revisits one of his key career releases. Even if you’re unable to top the Genius in a battle of wits, a concert from one of rap’s most cerebral voices makes for a great consolation prize. (ZR)

Zoratopia Block Party + Big A** Rap Show

Friday, 8 p.m | California Ballroom, 1736 Franklin St, Oakland
Saturday, 2 p.m.  | City Hall, Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland

NFT Oakland is a festival that meets at the intersection of crypto and Web3 and how artists can leverage those technologies to their advantage. The main component is Saturday and Sunday’s Zoratopia IRL—at Frank Ogawa Plaza and Oakstop, respectively—featuring Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins and surging Bay Area-grown talents like Elujay, Grand Nationxl, Ricky Lake and Heno. But it gets rugged, lyrically dense and flat-out elemental at Friday night’s Rap Off. Workhorse local wordsmiths like San Francisco battle rap extraordinaire Frak, Text Me Records’ Stoni, Grand Nationxl’s Passwurdz and Mission party crew Family Not A Group will all be on stage at this hip-hop free-for-all that’s also free. (AS)

Bey on the Bay

Jack London Square, 2 Broadway, Oakland
10:30 p.m. | $32

Beyonce on a horse statue
Beyoncé officially drops her seventh studio album, 'Renaissance,' on Friday.

Beyoncé’s seventh studio album, Renaissance, drops Friday and the Beyhive is dancing on water—literally. This R&B cruise and listening party—organized by Party Life SF and Big Dave Presents—features two fully stocked bars along with panoramic views of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. In keeping with the theme of rebirth, it’s easy to imagine Queen Bey rising from the cold, shark-infested waters off Alcatraz like Botticelli’s Venus. Whether you’re an old-school Destiny’s Child fan or a Renaissance disciple who’s been waiting for this album all summer, the DJ will stop time itself with Yoncé’s timeless classics. (BF)

Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa

Charles Krug Winery, 2800 Main St., St. Helena
July 29 – 31, Various Times | $225+

Looking for a viable weekend destination to get away from this horrendous fog that’s been plaguing San Francisco all “summer”? Here it is. Grammy-winning pianist Robert Glasper and famed jazz imprint Blue Note have teamed up for this inaugural edition of the Blue Note Jazz Festival at the Krug Winery in Napa Valley, and Glasper has curated a lineup presenting some of the best jazz, hip-hop and R&B crossover acts in the world. These aren’t just single-artist performances, either. On Saturday, Glasper leads a super jam of sorts with Erykah Badu, BJ The Chicago Kid, and Terrace Martin; on Friday, Snoop Dogg joins the Dinner Party band of Glasper, Martin, and Kamasi Washington. Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey have reunited and are playing a set as the legendary hip-hop duo Black Star (Saturday.) There are also appearances from Chaka Khan (Friday), Maxwell (Sunday), Thundercat (Saturday), and upstart acts like jazz duo DOMi & JD Beck (Friday & Saturday) and Virginia soul band Butcher Brown (Saturday & Sunday). (AS)

Saturday, July 30

Hot Glass Cold Beer 

Public Glass, 1750 Armstrong Ave.
6 p.m. | $40

If you’re curious about glass blowing, now is your chance to watch the entrancing and entertaining art form at Bayview’s Public Glass. At their signature event, Hot Glass Cold Beer, the cover charge gets you a commemorative glass for you to fill with local craft beer and enjoy. From there you walk into the “Hot Shop”, gather around a 600-pound pot furnace, and watch the artists create objects like pipes, cups and sculptures. You can also join in on the fun as the artists usually allow a few attendees to participate. This Saturday they will be joined by special guest glass artist, Jorge Gallo. (MM)

Sunday, July 31

ODC’s Dancing in the Street: 50+ Anniversary Block Party & Summer Sampler

Dancing in the Street 
ODC Campus, 351 Shotwell St.  
July 31, 12 – 4 p.m. | Free

Summer Sampler
ODC Theater, 351 Shotwell St.  
July 28 – 30, 7:30 p.m. | $20 – $100

Celebrating over 50 years of dance, San Francisco dance staple ODC/Dance throws a free, family-friendly block party on Sunday and showcases a range of repertory works from its family of dance makers and friends throughout the weekend. 

A person dancing
Part of ODC's 'Summer Sampler,' KT Nelson's 'Going Solo' follows the journey of Brandon "Private" Freeman from the National Guard back to dance. | Andrew Weeks/Courtesy of ODC/Dance

If immersing yourself in a dark and intimate theater to get a taste of what’s happening in Bay Area contemporary dance is your jam, check out ODC’s Summer Sampler starting on Thursday, with additional performances on Friday and Saturday. It features ODC Founder and Artistic Director Brenda Way’s reflection on America’s obsession with unbridled individualism, “Unintended Consequences (A Meditation),” set to music by genre-bending performance artist Laurie Anderson. ODC Associate Choreographer Kimi Okada’s “Two If By Sea”—with musical scoring by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Reich—infuses flamenco with vaudeville and Morse code, and ODC Fellow KT Nelson’s “Going Solo” charts the return of ODC’s longest dancing member to the company after a seven-year absence and stint in the National Guard. “Impulse,” guest choreographer Dexandro Montalvo’s quartet for four women, and in-demand Bay Area choreographer Amy Seiwert’s emotional “Veronica & Vincent” round out the mix. 

If getting out and dancing is more your speed, hit up ODC’s block party, stretching throughout its campus on Sunday. In addition to performances by ODC-affiliated artists, there will be pop-up dance and fitness classes for adults and kids ranging from high-energy workouts to hip-hop, drop-in health assessments conducted by ODC Health staff, film screenings, art talks and food and beverages from local neighborhood restaurants. (CJC) Besties Bash

Secret Location; Virtual
5 p.m. | $0-$5

Community radio station hosts an IRL and virtual event from their “Secret Alley,” the eccentric art space they call home in the Mission, for their Besties Bash. Curated by Space Abuela, a resident DJ at, this art and music showcase features performances from Joyride and Try the Pie. There will be art for sale by Marissa Carpenter and Abuela’s Pantry as well as prints of the event’s promotional poster, designed by Megan Badilla. The IRL event is now sold out—if you are lucky enough to have snagged a ticket already, you’ll know where to go soon—but the bash can be watched live on Twitch for free! (XL)

Save The Date: The Week Ahead

‘The Afterlight’ + Director Q&A

The Roxie, 3117 16th St
Tuesday, Aug. 2, 6:45 p.m. | $14

Local movie houses like the Roxie often offer us a portal to revisit past films from our younger days. There’s an intangible charm to seeing a movie you know well projected on the big screen once again—but what about the opposite experience? Such is the premise for The Afterlight. Directed by Charlie Shackleton, this one-of-a-kind film is described as “fragments of hundreds of films from around the world [bringing] together an ensemble cast of actors with one thing in common: Each is no longer alive.” Together, they contend with a fragile existence lived solely through these traces of their work.” In practical terms, The Afterlight itself only exists as a single 35mm film print, which erodes a little further every time it screens, with the idea being that it will eventually disappear entirely. Following The Afterlight’s special, one-night-only West Coast premiere at the Roxie on Aug. 2, Shackleton appears in person for a Q&A. (ZR)

Christina Campodonico, Meaghan Mitchell, Ximena Loeza, Blue Fay, Adrian Spinelli and Zack Ruskin contributed additional reporting for this story.