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Bay Area Leftists Lounge

By: 
Rishi Awatramani and Josh Warren-White
Date Published: 
March 01, 2006
    The chill spot for the socialist socialite and the dissident diva, the third Bay Area Leftist Lounge hit on September 30, drawing over 1100 revolutionaries to celebrate the freedom struggle, build unity on the Left, and raise money for the movement.

The Bay Area Leftist Lounge III was the product of two years of party building that kicked off in May of 2004 with a house party that drew around 200 activists. A team of leftists aimed to build a space for non-sectarian revolutionaries coming out of multiple left traditions to build relationships, celebrate struggles for liberation, and support the work of radical organizations.

The initial concept of the Leftist Lounge was founded in Boston in July of 2003 with a badass leftist dance party with off-the-hook DJs, dancing, drinks, and incredible revolutionary art. Agreeing with Molière’s classic line that, “all the political blunders, all the failures of the great leaders have arisen merely from a lack of skill at dancing,” it was clear that the revolutionary Left needed a space to hone its skills. Well, that and the fact that in the face of such daunting enemies, the Left needed a space to build some goddamn unity. And so the party was built. Boston threw three parties in 2003, each growing in size and ambition. The parties quickly became a home for many radical people of color in the city.

After a year of Boston’s party building, comrades in the Bay Area launched a West Coast Leftist Lounge in the hopes of helping the anti-imperialist movement build unity. By providing a space rooted in the struggles of working class communities of color—non-sectarian Revolutionary Anarchists, Third World Marxists, Revolutionary Nationalists, and other assorted leftists could at the very least be in the same room, moving to the same beats, and identifying a common struggle against US-led imperialism.

The Bay Area kickoff was an East Oakland house party May 2004 which drew around 200 people and raised a bunch of money to help build Just Cause Oakland, a revolutionary membership organization with a base of working-class tenants and workers in the flatlands of Oakland.

Turnout to the second Leftist Lounge in East Oakland grew significantly thanks to a stronger organizing committee. Over 500 people rolled through a space saturated with art celebrating fallen comrades and s/heroes of the movement. This time the party raised money for three organizations building power in working-class communities of color—Xicana Moratorium Coalition, Critical Resistance, and POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights).

Leftist Lounge III was one for the history books. Partnering with Trinity Wolf Productions, an Oakland-based progressive event production and promotions group, Leftist Lounge III posted up in the Noodle Factory (run by Trinity Wolf) in West Oakland. The Noodle Factory boasts one of the biggest indoor party venues in Oakland with two floors, two dance floors, two bars, and its own promotions team. With the help of Trinity Wolf and the party’s biggest and strongest organizing committee yet, Leftist Lounge III was pregnant with promise.

The successes the organizing team had in the planning stages alone were unprecedented: local radio station KPFA ran public service announcements during their highest volume shows inviting listeners to attend; two local newspapers ran stories in the week leading up to the party; over 30 local organizations and small businesses pitched in to do outreach and spread the word; close to 20 Bay Area businesses donated food, alcohol, and supplies to keep party expenses exceptionally low; local artists contributed over 200 pieces of art to decorate the Noodle Factory; and seven of the Bay’s freshest DJs—including DJ collective Local 1200 featuring DJ Sake-1—held it down on the 1’s and 2’s. Leftist Lounge III had more hype than a hype convention.

But fear not, Leftist Lounge always delivers on its hype guarantee. The party was off the hinges! I don’t know when the last time you saw 1100 revolutionaries packed into a building was, but you probably have yet to witness such a feat in the US. Leftist Lounge III raised over $9000 and was ultimately able to contribute over $2000 to each sponsoring organization—Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Just Cause Oakland, and your very own Left Turn magazine. Plus $1000 went to the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund in Louisiana. Aside from the heat—think about the fiyah from 1100 revolutionaries—everybody’s been asking, “When’s the next one?” Keep your eyes and ears open boys and girls. You’re not going to wanna miss Bay Area Leftist Lounge IV!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Rishi Awatramani is an organizer and the Political Education Coordinator with Just Cause Oakland, a mass-based organization fighting for workers' and tenants' rights in Oakland, CA.

Josh Warren-White does anti-racist/anti-imperialist work within the global justice/anti-war movements as a core member of the Catalyst Project. Josh is also a part-time staff member of Just Cause Oakland.