924 Gilman is an all-ages club that has been open for 35 years and is a generational staple for the Berkeley community. The decades of stickers in the bathrooms and street art covering the walls recall the voices of past performers and attendees. Bands like Green Day and Operation Ivy, who were established in Berkeley’s backyard, created Gilman’s original focal point of punk music and culture. Now, the venue is open to a variety of genres.
Since its conception, Gilman has never had an individual owner. The club is managed by members who meet monthly to solve issues and make decisions. The owners prioritize making Gilman a safe space, as can be seen in a sign listing the beliefs they chose democratically, such as “no homophobia” and “no racism.”
The club’s mission was to create a space where people of all backgrounds could perform and appreciate music. Georgia Fishman, a BHS senior who performs and attends Gilman, recognized that this fosters a more diverse environment.
“You see people all different styles, wearing whatever the hell they want,” she said.
Alex Botkin, Gilman’s current organizer, observed two particular groups among the audience. He said, “We have a lot of nostalgic people, in their mid fifties and sixties being one.” Many of these attendees have enjoyed the space for decades. He added that the younger generation of high school and college students attend more regularly. More recently, bands like Cascade and I’d Rather Sleep, with members from BHS, have been booking their own shows at Gilman.
Fishman, a member of I’d Rather Sleep, explained her reasons for going. “It’s a very welcoming place. I like the atmosphere there, it welcomes just about everybody,” she said.
These performances are an opportunity for students to support musicians their own age, as well as connect with each other.
Everyone can attend, regardless of their financial situation. Tickets are ten dollars, and if you can’t pay that fee then you can volunteer. Volunteers can see shows for free, the only requirement being that they show up an hour early. Botkin said, “We’re not gonna make you work the whole time, we understand that you want to see a band and we don’t want you to miss that. The point is for it to be fun.”
Berkeley youth must keep Gilman alive because of its unique, welcoming, and diverse musical connectivity. You can check out their Instagram at 924GilmanStreet or their website, 924Gilman.org. If you haven’t been to Gilman yet, don’t wait, because there are no other clubs like it.