Contrary to popular belief, dying is not the most widespread phobia. What people fear most in this world is speaking in front of a crowd. Public speaking is also the biggest obstacle for young, promising poets, singers, and performers to overcome.
The University Program Council (UCPC) hosts Open Mic nights every third Thursday of the month at 8:00 p.m. at the Ski Lodge in UC I, giving students the opportunity to conquer their stage fright and expose their artful talents.
“I have a class that ends at 8:15 p.m. so whenever it ends early, I head over here,” senior creative writing major, Bryan Baca said. “It felt great reading in front of a packed house.”
Though he has attended Open Mic nights in the past, it was Bryan’s first time reading at an event. Being surrounded by fellow students, many of whom were also in line to perform, helped quell the butterflies in his stomach as he read two of his poems.
“I’ve got to read for my poetry class so this was really good practice,” Baca said.
Several students are required to attend or participate in poetry events throughout the semester. UCPC has begun to discuss with professors about the option of giving students extra credit for attending an Open Mic or Coffee House event. This in turn will raise awareness on artistic campus programming.
“I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen or pencil but it was the first time I had been to an open mic. I never really knew that they had them on campus,” senior creative writing major, Amy Yoder said. “There were more people here than what I thought was going to be.”
It was also Amy’s first time reading her poetry in public. Though she admitted she was nervous, Amy’s performance elicited a cheerful response from the crowd.
“It’s hard to know if people will accept it and how they will take something personal from you,” Yoder said.
With the lights turned down, the atmosphere in the Ski Lodge is laid back and casual. The crowd stays positive and supportive, making it easier for students to subdue any reservations they may hold about getting in front of a crowd. Students sign up 30 minutes prior to the start of the Open Mic and are chosen at random to perform.
“I wasn’t crazy about the fact that they drew names randomly because it kept me a little on edge,” Yoder said. “I guess it’s all part of the experience.”
The blend of personalities adds another element to the overall feel of the Open Mic. Performances range from poetry readings to rap flows to jam sessions in every style of music.
“I’ve been encouraging other artists to come out and perform,” sophomore media relations major and Open Mic MC, Finot Habte said. “I’m trying to make a fun scene for everyone to come and get involved.”
Habte has been involved with UCPC since this past December and was given the title of MC for their Open Mic nights earlier in the semester. She also got on stage to sing a cover of Colbie Caillat’s “Realize.”
“It was my first time singing here at an Open Mic,” Habte said. “I wouldn’t let anyone listen to my voice all week while I was practicing.”
Habte’s enthusiasm for the Open Mic nights will hopefully motivate other students to join in the fun. From the up and coming to the starving artist, the Open Mics hosted by UCPC will provide a secure and relaxing environment for anyone to enjoy.