It's that time again, penny pinchers. We know you're saving up to buy yourself a brand-new "sexy pizza rat" costume for Halloween, and with that completely necessary purchase coming in at $89.95, you're going to have to tighten your belt in other places.
Without further ado: This week's Cheap Date, the column in which we round up local events with a strict cap of $20. As always, we're especially in favor of parties, shows, and screenings that are actually — gasp — free of charge.
Thursday, Oct. 8: Meklit at the Yerba Buena Gardens. Meklit Hadero is a local treasure if there ever was one. The Ethiopian-born, Bay Area-dwelling songstress blends African and American blues, jazz and folk sounds with a constantly surprising level of grace and magnetism. Catch her for free as part of the Yerba Buena Gardens festival -- all on your lunch break, from 12:30 to 1:30pm Details here.
Friday, Oct. 9: 'The Devil's Acre': Litquake Kickoff Party at Z Space. The first of many literary-leaning parties that will shake up the Bay Area throughout October (get it? shake? sorry), this opening night event celebrates "the infamous and unhinged 1800s San Francisco," featuring sea shanty singers San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The party doubles as a launch for Drinking the Devil’s Acre, Duggan McDonnell’s illustrated history of cocktails from "the wild and wicked saloons of the Barbary Coast." There will be booze, naturally. $20; details here.
Friday, Oct. 9: Lyrics Born at the New Parish. The East Bay hip-hop veteran headlines a special, jazz-inflected show in Oakland, featuring Galactic's Robert Mercurio, Ben Ellman and Corey Henry (all of whom were instrumental in the production of LB's Real People); DJ Shortkut, and special guests from the Jazz Mafia, like tireless musician-about-town Adam Theis. $20; details here.
Saturday, Oct. 10: Wing Wings Chicken Wing Eating Contest at SoMa StrEat Food Park. Not like you really need an excuse to partake in -- or just gawk at -- this annual celebration of America's favorite appetizer, but all funds raised at this glorious, gluttonous gathering will go to the arts education non-profit Precita Eyes. Participants are asked to raise $150 as an entry fee, but it's free to attend, and you can count on food galore, live painting and music, kids' activities, and a raffle from local businesses. Details here.
Saturday, Oct. 10: Ocean Beach Music and Art Festival. The Outer Sunset doesn't get enough love among SF's newest residents -- but for locals, that's just fine: it keeps the rents (almost, kinda) reasonable, and makes (free!) festivals like this one totally manageable in size and attendance. That said this is a killer lineup, with Destroyer, Down Dirty Shake, Travis Hayes and others taking over six stages. Also featured: multiple beer gardens, more food vendors than a person could ever need, a mobile petting zoo, a pumpkin patch, and a chance to stroll leisurely up and down Noriega in the sunshine. Did we mention it's free? Details here.
Sunday, Oct. 11: Aliens at the New Parkway (Bechdel Test Movie Night). This excellent series focusing on films that feature at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man also affords movie-goers the opportunity to take in one of the best sci-fi flicks of the last 50 years. There's also the opportunity to learn a thing or two, if you stay for a post-film discussion with local artist and educator Cheryl Dunye. Need a primer on the Bechdel Test before you go? Read KQED Arts' Sarah Hotchkiss in discussion with Dunye over here. $10; details here.
Sunday, Oct. 11: 1st Annual Gilman Reunion and Block Party. If you've ever set foot inside Berkeley's legendary punk club 924 Gilman, you know it's so much more than a music venue. And if you haven't? Well, no time like the present. This free event opens the space to the public, with a tour, presentations from DIY artists, musicians, food, and tables from local friend organizations like AK Press. Like all things Gilman, this one's all-ages, to boot. Details here.
Sunday, Oct. 11 - Monday, Oct. 12: Breaking a Monster at the Mill Valley Film Festival. There's a seriously overwhelming slate of cinema at the Mill Valley Film Festival, but for months we've had our eye on this little documentary about a Brooklyn metal trio, Unlocking the Truth, who garnered international hype before they hit age 14. Bring a kid who dreams of rock stardom for a sneak peek at the possibilities (and pitfalls) of attaining fame at the same time as, uh, puberty. $15; details here.