1317 San Pablo Ave
Ashkenaz was founded in 1973 by David Nadel, a dedicated human rights activist and folkdancer, in response to the San Francisco Bay Area’s strong interest in international folk dance. David himself had a life-changing experience when he became involved with the Westwind International Folk Ensemble. He saw that listening and dancing to the music of other cultures fostered an understanding of different heritages and he was determined to make this experience available to others.
David transformed a warehouse on San Pablo Avenue into a dancehall devoted to presenting international and contemporary roots music and dance. Modeling the interior and exterior of the building after an Eastern European wooden synagogue, in honor of his Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors, he envisioned a place where the world’s music and dance would dissolve the differences that keep people apart.
“I did not know David Nadel personally. But I do know that we shared a common experience and belief. Dance changed our lives. He believed, and I believe, in the transformative power of dance. The place David created is unique – nowhere else can you dance to such a variety of live music. And no place else has the sense of community that Ashkenaz embodies.”
– A local dance and music lover
Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center presents concerts, classes, and workshops of participatory dance and music rooted in traditional cultures from around the world. We are committed to providing a great place to dance that supports local and international bands of both established and emerging artists in a respectful, comfortable, safe, and family atmosphere. Through this we build friendship and culturally inclusive community that encourages social awareness, education, and dedication to fairness, honor, and equality.
World and Roots Music
Ashkenaz is a nationally recognized nonprofit music and culture venue that specializes in presenting live world and roots music. Ashkenaz brings people of all ages, cultures, and lifestyles together with music and dance programs that include African, Balkan, Brazilian, Cajun/Zydeco, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Reggae, American roots from Bluegrass to Swing, and more. Ashkenaz presents nightly live music, dance, and movement classes, workshops, programs for children, and benefit shows.
All programs are open to children, and kids 12 and under receive free admission (unless otherwise noted). Ashkenaz is wheelchair accessible and has ample parking in the lot across the street after 9 pm.
“For me, Ashkenaz is much more than a club; every show is a family reunion, with a family you actually get along with.”
– Noam Biale, written when a student at Berkeley High School
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