NightLife is a weekly 21+ event held at the California Academy of Sciences, which transforms into a lively venue filled with provocative science, music, art, creatures, and cocktails. Each week features a unique theme with special programs, top DJs, live music, and more, and always gives guests the opportunity to explore the museum after dark.
21+ evening event celebrates Black joy with live music and dance, a panel with women of the Black Panther Party, visual art installation, Black business marketplace, and more
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 18, 2024) — To kick off Black History Month, on Thursday, February 1, the California Academy of Sciences will host its first ever Black History Month NightLife event: Black Thursday (6 - 10 pm). The 21+ event will engage guests in a celebration of Black joy with music, dance, art, talks, and a Black-owned business marketplace, all while enjoying craft cocktails and exploring the museum after-hours.
Black Thursday furthers NightLife’s ever-expanding focus on equitable representation, culture, and community-focused programming.
NightLife brand manager Anacron Allen elaborates, “For 15 years, NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences has bloomed beyond a Thursday night museum party. We've become a platform for amplifying diverse voices, forging partnerships that bridge science and art, and crafting spaces where Bay Area communities truly feel seen and heard. We’ve demonstrated our commitment to representation with events like our annual Lunar New Year celebration and Pride nights, and requests for equal representation highlighted an opportunity to celebrate Black communities similarly. Now, on February 1st, we launch Black Thursday, an overdue celebration of Black history, present, and future, brought to life by a vibrant collaboration between our Black staff, community partners, and the teams across the Academy who make NightLife happen.”
To bring the event to fruition, Allen invited other Black-identifying Academy staff to work together on the conception and creation of the event. Together they shared their experiences of being Black in the Bay Area and within the Academy, and collaborated on a vision for the first Black History Month NightLife event. The group of staff who work in widely varied parts of the organization—from Public Programs to Government Affairs—coalesced around the idea of celebrating Black joy through a program rich in history and culture.
"Events like NightLife: Black Thursday are an impactful way to show our community and the nation as a whole the huge contributions Black people have on the development and growth of our communities. It's also a critical opportunity to invite those communities into our museum and encourage more involvement with museums and science,” says business applications manager DC Ogar, who served on the staff advisory committee. "Working with the NightLife team to bring Black Thursday to life gave me an appreciation for what it takes to bring an idea to fruition, and how critical incorporating multiple people's experiences, ideas, and insights is in creating something with social impact.”
Apriel Coffey, student programs educator, public programs presenter, and fellow member of the staff advisory committee adds, "NightLife: Black Thursday is a significant event not just for the Black community, but for people in all communities because it offers a valuable opportunity to learn about historical events, a place for fellowship with other people, a celebration of food and culture, and the opportunity to focus on an uplifting event that sparks joy and gives exposure to local organizations and business."
Black Thursday presents a fun yet thoughtful evening with programming that represents the multidimensional Black American existence, which simultaneously holds challenge and discrimination alongside the boundless resilience and joy of the Black community.
- 6-10 pm - DJ Lady Ryan’s accolades are many: She has shared a stage with legendary artists including Diana Ross, George Clinton, Erykah Badu, Journey, Indigo Girls, and Anderson Paak; she’s been recognized by the City of Oakland for her leadership in LGBTQ music and arts; and she was voted “Best DJ in the Bay Area” by Bay Area Reporter in 2023. She brings her signature sounds to NightLife with dance floor classics that span genres and eras. Gideon Chiwinke Mekwunye II, co-founder of the breaking group Make History, will open the dance floor with some historical framing and preview the group's upcoming events.
- 9 pm - Oakland-based hip-hop, jazz, and soul collective SOL Development brings their signature imaginative musicianship and virtuoso vocals for a performance of “music to illuminate today’s cultural and political climate…that allows the listener to feel empowered in finding their own activism and healing.”
- 7:30 pm - Bamidele Agbasegbe-Demerson, Chief Curator of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, leads an engaging talk, “Interpreting Africa’s Gifts to the United States: Black American Contributions to Our Society.” Agbasegbe-Demerson applies a cultural anthropologist’s lens to America’s “cultural amnesia,” and spotlights some of the contributions that Africa—by way of Black America—has given our society over the course of four centuries, including music and dance, visual aesthetic expression, culinary arts, language and literature, medicine, spirituality, and even law.
- 8:30 pm - Join a few of the inspiring women leaders of the Black Panther Party for a candid discussion about their experience as activists and hopes for restorative justice. Panelists include original Black Panther Party members Katherine Campbell, an artist and former chef for the Panthers’ Free Breakfast Program, Gayle "Asali" Dickson, an artist, teacher, ordained minister, and the sole female graphic artist for the Party newspaper in the early 1970s, and anti-hunger advocate "Auntie" Frances Moore, whose work continues with the Love Mission Self-Help Hunger Program.
ART AND WELLNESS:
- 6-10 pm - Visual artist Michael Coppage's acclaimed Black Box art installation makes its West Coast debut following successful runs in Europe and across the US. This multimedia project, which features arresting life size photographs of Black people wearing t-shirts with phrases that include the word “BLACK,” explores the word itself – how it is used, the often negative connotation it carries, and the real life impact this has on Black people.
- 6-10 pm - Morgan Norvell of Budding Lotus Meditation brings attention to the importance of mental health care and meditation with a table offering breathwork exercises and tips for starting or furthering your practice.
- 6-10 pm - Support Black-owned businesses and shop a marketplace with wares from 20 exceptional local Black stores, including Belle Noire, CocoaCentric, Ice Body Skincare, Sam's Jams, and more, curated by SF Black Wall Street and In the Black Shop.
The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution with a mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in scientific research and environmental education—all under one living roof. Museum hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For daily ticket prices, please visit www.calacademy.org or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.
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