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Satin Dolls meets on Tuesdays from 7:30 to 8:30pm at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on the corner of Woodruff and Excelsior Avenues in Oakland. It is a speaker-discussion meeting except on the last Tuesday of each month, when we study one of the Twelve Steps, celebrate birthdays, with chips, and share cupcakes or other treats. The business meeting is held at 8:35 pm on the first Tuesday of each month.

We meet in a large circle in the church’s spacious meeting hall. Generally, from 15 to 30 women attend. We enjoy beginning every meeting by reading the Twelve Steps in unison. The meeting draws a steady stream of newcomers and visitors, but many long-time members attend loyally. Far-flung members like to stop in when they are in town. Newcomers report feeling warmly welcomed, which keeps them coming back during the rough times of early sobriety.

Satin Dolls was formed in the mid-1980s by several friends from the even older Lady A meeting. They met initially in the rectory of Resurrection Lutheran Church on Euclid Avenue near Lake Merritt. Pat Z’s husband (also an AA member) suggested the group name chosen by the members: Satin Dolls, after the Duke Ellington song, “Satin Doll.”

Rachel R. initially proposed that the Twelve Steps be read in unison at each meeting to help smooth over any feelings ruffled by the founding process. She had heard this practice at a men’s recovery home. The proposal languished but was adopted years later in Rachel’s honor. Now the practice is part of what makes Satin Dolls special.

The founders and early members were a sociable group that had a lot of fun while living the AA program. We remember two who have died:  Diane G., for many years a mainstay of East Bay Hospitals & Institutions (H&I), who brought that passion to Satin Dolls. And Rachel R., who generously supported countless AA members, new and old, and died with 29 years of sobriety.

Their examples live on in the group’s continuing service to AA. The Dolls take their turn hosting the First Friday speaker meeting, always putting on a sumptuous spread of food. We have taken part in All-Groups Day and display our award-winning All-Groups Day banner at every meeting. We stay open to new proposals for working and having fun as a group. In 2015 we had our first Satin Dolls night cheering a member at Roller Derby playoffs.

The early members of Satin Dolls left this message for the next generations:  

Focus on the principles, pay attention to the traditions, honor group conscience, and always remember that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.