My interest in open mic nights originated in high school.
I’ve always loved the arts – music, dance, writing, even slam poetry. More than that, I loved creating my own work, but I never knew where to share it.
I turned to events and activities at my high school.
Each year, our school held a poetry slam. Anyone was allowed to try out and perform on stage if they made it. I became invested in it and ended up performing three out of my four years.
My high school performances went beyond just that. I performed in a showcase, in a piano recital, and nearly every week with my school’s marching band. Performing was a way for me to express myself and feel like I was giving life to the art I often kept to myself.
When I heard about open mics for the first time, I was filled with excitement. It was another performance, but this time with a little more freedom.
Throughout high school, I never really got the chance to attend an open mic. I was too busy with my schoolwork and extracurriculars to truly look into them. It was only after leaving high school that I realized how badly I needed to check one out.
Once I got into college, I stopped getting opportunities to perform. I became focused on my classes and clubs. A lot of the performing arts activities were big time commitments that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle. Instead, I returned to performing on my own; practicing new songs on piano for myself and writing slam poetry on my laptop.
It’s hard to go from constantly doing something to not doing it at all.
For me, every time I watched a school performance – whether it be an a capella group or dance show – I would feel this strong sense of yearning. I missed the adrenaline of waiting to be thrust on stage. I missed looking out into a dark audience as they cheered and my heart raced.
Open mic nights became a cure for my performing slump.
Open mic nights aren’t just about the performers. It’s about getting to share art and be a part of a community. Since realizing my love for open mics, I’ve sought them out whenever I’ve had the chance.
I’ve been to one near my hometown where I performed slam poetry, a few in college at a local coffeehouse, and am hoping to find a couple more in the city I’m currently living in. I didn’t always perform – most of the time I simply watched, actually. The prospect of performing can be terrifying. But just being in the audience for other performers was a stunning experience.
You don’t have to be a performer to attend an open mic night. A lot of the time open mic nights are free or very cheap – there’s really nothing to lose in attending. It’s pretty incredible to watch tons of aspiring artists, poets, and comedians give their all on stage.
But if you are a performer and you’ve been scared to step up in front of that crowd, I urge you to give it a try. I know how strong that fear can be. Every time I consider signing up, my heart starts racing. I’ll doubt myself a hundred times before being asked up on stage. I just remind myself that if I don’t go now, I never will. Stage fright is a legitimate concern, but you shouldn’t let it stop you from trying something new. Plus, the audiences are almost always supportive of you, no matter what happens.
I love open mic nights because they’re judgement-free, and everyone who performs is passionate about their craft. The cost of entry tends to be low, and attendees get to experience so many art forms all in one night. If you are a hesitant performer, you could go to an open mic night once or twice, just to observe. That’s been helpful for pushing me onto the stage.
Most of all, open mic nights allow you to test out your craft in front of an appreciative crowd. For every single open mic night I’ve been to, audience members have actively engaged with the artists by offering words of encouragement. Nobody is there to bring artists down.
Don’t be afraid to check out local open mic nights. They’re pretty easy to find – just do some Google searches and maybe call a couple places for more information. They’re an easy way to indulge in your creative side and connect with your community.
Also published on Medium.