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Retro Summer Fun

We’re bringing back good old-fashioned revelry!


Paige Hermreck

There’s something to be said for traveling down memory lane for entertainment—the kind that can’t be downloaded. This summer, ditch the smart phones, peel the kids away from the Xbox, and return to a time when having a blast meant actually getting out of the house. Whether you want to break out the poodle skirt, smooch at a drive-in, or rock out to the sounds of the ’80s, we’ve got you covered, man.


50's / 60's / 70's / 80's


The 50's

» Vintage candy, classic cars, and sci-fi fun that’ll blow your top.

1. Old-School Sips

Cool it with a chocolate phosphate at Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in Berkeley. Saul’s mixes seltzer water with house-made chocolate syrup to produce a bubbly glass of this East Coast sipper—perfect for sharing with your gal. saulsdeli.com—Kristen Haney

Daniel Nyari

2. Sweet Tooth

Hit Cupid’s Tooth in Pleasanton for some sentimental sweets. With old-school signs on the wall, ’50s tunes piped through the speakers, and nostalgic treats such as wax lips, cola fizzies, and colorful bin candy, the memories will come (sugar) rushing back. cupidstooth.com—K.H.

3. Alien Invasion

Settle in to Chabot Space and Science Center’s dinner double feature for one of the greatest ’50s sci-fi flicks, Forbidden Planet. It’s got Robby the Robot, an ancient alien race, and a pre–Naked Gun Leslie Nielsen: What’s not to dig? August 17, 6:30 p.m., chabotspace.org—Peter Crooks

Courtesy of Children’s Fairyland4. Fun for Wee Ones

Make sure your toddler whooshes down the iconic Dragon Slide and checks out the delightful puppet theater—where adorable marionettes perform classic fairy tales—at Children’s Fairyland. When it opened next to Oakland’s Lake Merritt in 1950, it was the first storybook theme park in the country, and it has remained true to its original vision as a charming and wonderfully retro little park for wee ones. fairyland.org—P.C.

5. Have a Gas

Get a classic, full-service fill-up at Orinda’s Flying A Gasoline. Pump-it-yourself may have come into vogue in the ’70s, but there’s nothing quite like kicking back while someone else does all the hard work. orindaautodetail.com—K.H.

Cruising The Main

— Bob DuBois / Blackhawk Museum

I lived in Concord from 1956 to 1963. At the time, I belonged to a VW club that used to start a lot of sports car rallies from the old Capwell’s lot in what is now Broadway Plaza. You would wander around the East Bay back roads: At that time, they were all back roads. You could actually drive through Buchanan field. You’d look both ways to make sure there were no airplanes coming, and drive right through.

When I first graduated from Cal, I bought a brand-new ’55 VW. When I was commuting from Berkeley to Concord, you’d see someone on the road driving another European car, you’d wave, and they’d wave right back because [the cars] were rarities.

Nobody goes through a city anymore. They bypass it. Those days, if you drove from here to Los Angeles, you went right through the cities; you experienced those cities.


Check It Out

Bob DuBois is a docent at Danville’s Blackhawk Automotive Museum, where you can admire cars from the 1950s and roadside relics such as vintage American jukeboxes and gas pumps. blackhawkmuseum.org—K.H.


The 60's

» Peace, love, arty flicks, and classic ball games in the East Bay.

Daniel Nyari

1. Feel a Buzz

Hang out at UC Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement Café, where walls are covered with black-and-white photos of protests. We’re pretty sure even the hippies would approve of the café’s organic ingredients and fair trade coffee. lib.berkeley.edu/aboutlibrary/fsmcafe.html—Tessa Love

2. Art House Flick

Get transported back in time, when UC Berkeley’s Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive unearths The Troublemaker, a 1964 cult comedy about the Greenwich Village folk scene. The outdoor screening in the museum’s sculpture garden will include a beat poetry slam and a coffeehouse re-creation. August 22, 7 p.m., bampfa.berkeley.edu. —P.C.

3. Time Machine

Wax nostalgic at Oakland Museum of California, where the ’60s are always alive and well thanks to Tony Labat’s Big Peace IV outdoor sculpture and its recognizable yellow submarine hue. Other ways to walk memory lane include the Huey P. Newton monument— a replica of the wicker fan back chair favored by the Black Panther Party founder—and Forces of Change, a collection of display boxes highlighting 1960 to 1975 curated by 24 Californians who lived during that time. museumca.org—K.H.

Big Peace IV by Tony Labat / Photo by Shaun Roberts, Courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California

4. Hit the Backseat

You knew it as a “passion pit,” but you can still make out like teenagers in your backseat at West Wind Solano Drive-In in Concord. You weren’t there to watch the movies, remember? westwinddriveins.com. —K.H.

Courtesy of Oakland Athletics5. Have a Ball

Although the current team’s facial hair would not have been groovy with the league back then, get dibs on a 1968 commemorative scorecard and button at the Oakland A’s Throwback Thursday on July 25. The first 5,000 fans get the goodies, everyone gets to groove to live organ tunes from Dan “Fingers” Rodowicz, and plaza-level tickets are half off. Throwback Thursdays are June 13, July 4, July 25, and August 15, oakland.athletics.mlb.com. —K.H.

Digging The Tunes

— Don Bleu / Radio DJ

In the early 1960s, I was in high school, and I had a friend who had a new Cadillac with the speakers in the back. Driving around and hearing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” come out of those speakers—it was awesome.

ShutterstockThis was before the onslaught of formatted stations on FM, and you would hear all kinds of music on one AM channel. You would have Frank Sinatra mixed in with the Beatles and Motown. It really was like the movie American Graffiti. I appreciate all different eras of music, but I really love the music from the ’60s. I know every song.

Back then, the radio was the main medium to get the music to people. You had your AM stations that played the singles. Later in the decade came the FM stations, which played the deeper album cuts. The album, as a concept, really came out of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Today, you have more mediums for music—iTunes and the Internet—but radio stays around because people like to have someone play the music for them. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of hearing a great song come on the radio and having it take you back in time to the first place you heard it.


Alamo resident Don Bleu plays the music of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s weekday mornings on 103.7 FM. sf1037.com—P.C.


The 70's

» Rockin’, rollin’, and flambé are all groovy, baby.

Daniel Nyari

1. Bowl a Strike

Knock ‘em down during Danville Bowl’s weekend Midnight Madness, when the alley brings in a DJ and disco lights for three hours of unlimited bowling. And forget soggy fries: The new Rocky’s Place dishes out carnitas tacos and specialty salads. danvillebowl.com. —K.H.

2. Easy Rider

Ever wonder why Burt Reynolds’ mustache was the biggest movie star of the 1970s? Find out on July 11, when Livermore’s Vine Cinema shows the 1977 car chase classic, Smokey and the Bandit, an event cohosted by the East Bay Firebirds club. Expect a lot of vintage Trans Ams and furious state troopers outside. July 11, 7 p.m., vinecinema.com—P.C.

3. No Coins Needed

Electronic pinball machines hit the scene in the 1970s, and you can try your hand at the funkadelic Captain Fantastic (1975), Fireball (1971), and Freedom (1976). Alameda’s Pacific Pinball Museum keeps the lights on until midnight on Friday and Saturday, so you can keep the party rollin’ until late. pacificpinball.org—K.H.


4. Go for Gold

Make like Dorothy Hamill at Dublin Iceland, which opened a year before she scored the gold at the 1976 Winter Olympics. Although you may not sail right into Salchow jumps and camel spins, you can learn tricky moves during specialty classes over the summer. Or keep it chill and social with Tuesday family nights or Thursday morning coffee club skates. dubliniceland.com—K.H.

Shutterstock5. Rock ’n’ Roll

Get your Roller Boogie on with a pair of quad skates. Cruz Skate Shop sells Moxi Roller Skates, a classic high-top style that comes in pink and purple suede, and leopard print. And before you get roller bootin’, don’t forget the knee pads and wrist guards.  cruzskateshop.com—K.H.

The Dinner Show

— Rick Delamain / Executive Chef

In the ’70s and into the ’80s, there weren’t as many restaurants, and going out to dinner wasn’t as common. It was much more of an event, and you’d really have to work for it: People would save up their money, and then at the end of the meal, they’d pay all cash.

Joe BuddGentlemen always wore dinner jackets, women got dressed up, and if you were a professional waiter, as I was, you wore a tuxedo. At Le Virage, there were two different tuxedos depending on the season. All the waiters had three or four of them: Our closets looked like a Selix store.

It was definitely as much about the show as the food. There was a lot of effort put out at the table to make guests feel special and a part of the dining experience. We’d do table-side service for maybe half of the items on the menu; I remember times when I’d look around, and it was like Benihana, with waiters preparing Caesar salads, steak Dianes, and dessert flambés all over the dining room.


Rick Delamain is executive chef at Walnut Creek’s Cypress, where the Caesar salad for two is still prepared and served table-side. cypresswc.com—Ethan Fletcher


The 80's

» Acid wash, rad tunes, and the decade’s other greatest hits.

Daniel Nyari

1. Relive the Hits

Rock out to Huey Lewis and the News, when they headline Wente Vineyards on July 16, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the band’s smash Sports album. This isn’t the first time the seminal ’80s band has showcased Sports here in the East Bay. The News played Monte Vista High in February 1983. “They performed the entire album two months before it came out,” says Chester Farrow, a retired Monte Vista teacher who booked the show. He also booked Journey and other Bay Area bands to rock the Danville high school. “Huey Lewis was the best concert we ever had,” he says. Tickets for the ’83 show cost $7.50; this summer’s Wente gig runs $89–$289. wentevineyards.com/concerts—P.C.

2. Timeless Flick

Hey you guuuys! Pack a picnic, and head to Jack London Square for an August 22 waterfront screening of the adventure-comedy The Goonies. Kick off the fun with trivia questions (Did you know the pirate ship was real?) and beer before the movie starts rolling. It’s definitely better than watching VHS tapes in your parents’ basement. jacklondonsquare.com —K.H.

3. Kind of Blue

Back in the ’80s, we’d painstakingly rip our jeans or beg the ’rents for cash to shell out on a pair from Guess. Reignite that jeans obsession at Slash, where you can score acid wash Levi’s 501s or a pair of totally tubular high-waisted jeans. The Berkeley store has specialized in a wicked selection of vintage denim since 1979. slashdenim.com. —K.H.

Kristen Haney

4. Rad Tunes

Belt out “Working for the Weekend” with Loverboy on June 23, croon a ballad during the June 27 Air Supply show, and don’t miss Weird Al Yankovic parody the decade’s hits on July 5 at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton. alamedacountyfair.com—K.H.

Shutterstock5. Look Slick

Pick up a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses at a discount from the Livermore Outlets’ Sunglass Hut. With appearances in Top Gun and The Breakfast Club, these shades scored some of the highest profile roles of the ’80s. premiumoutlets.com. —K.H.

Rock All Night

— Saul Tallarico / Dan’s Bar

Pop culture keeps bringing back ’80s songs, and they’re getting a second, third, fourth go-round. Everybody knows the songs, whether they listened to them at the time or their parents listened to them. We don’t even advertise certain nights as an ’80s theme, and people come dressed up anyway.

Everybody wants to hear certain songs. A band could play Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” 30 times a night, and everybody would still dance and sing the whole thing.

We first opened in the early ’70s, and I think it’s survived because it is what it is. What you see is what you get. It’s a diverse crowd. You can be a college student or a 38-year-old woman on a ladies night out with a babysitter at home, or a guy coming in to play pool. If you’re going to come out with your friends or significant other, or you’re just someone coming out to have fun, we almost always have a band that’s a good time.

Galen Ducey Photography

Rock Out

Saul Tallarico owns Dan’s Bar in Walnut Creek, which hosts live music four nights a week. While most acts include some ’80s hits, make sure to catch glam rock group Metal Shop on June 1 and July 26, and Prince tribute band The Purple Ones on August 17. dansbar.com—K.H.

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