I never did get around to talking about the aftermath of that party on Saturday, did I? I tweeted about it fairly regularly, but most of that was me being my snarky self before the show started. Let me catch y’all up.
To start, this was the venue:
Charm City Art Space is pretty much a hole in the wall venue that escaped from the early 90’s grunge scene via a dimensional rift that dragged it through the rougher neighborhoods of Wonderland. I’m not sure if people know this about me, but I ADORE spaces like this; places that look like Albert Camus decide to write about a road trip he took with Salvador Dali and Hunter S. Thompson. I stepped inside and even though I didn’t know anyone else there, I thought with glee, “I have chosen wisely.”
And because I was happy, I had to be catty online.
Oh my god, I can SMELL the hipster in the air. #openmicnight
It’s either that, or the scent of slow, cologne-doused decomposition.
I am already having the most fun. All I need is for the white-girl with dreads to show up and I’ll have counter-culture bingo.
Waiting for the socializing to chill enough for the show to start. Right now, it looks like everyone is sniffing out their own kind.
I feel like Jane Goodall, observing communities of hipsters in their natural environment.
I’m sorry if I gave the wrong impression to my Twitter followers. I’m a younger sibling, so I have a life-long habit of dismissing things that are enjoyable in preparation for my brothers asshole friends to ruin it. It also helps me to cope when something potentially awesome ends up failing in a disappointing flame too small to even roast a marshmallow over.
But after my half hour snark-fest, the show got on the road. We all sat on the floor and watched as people took the stage to perform their poems and skits – one guy did a monologue about being a telemarketer and had about 10 phones ringing off the hook around him, another girl had written goofy little poems based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It sounds like every pretentious open mic night ever held by non-conformist 20-somethings ever…but it was fun. It was relaxed. And it was held without judgement.
I don’t know if this is endemic of Baltimore – I suspect not, given the disparaging views of artists around the world – but most of the writing groups I’ve sat in on or tried to participate in locally were basically either bastions of ego-stroking, self-congratulatory circle jerking, or dens of such underhanded bitchery and dream-crushing condescension that they’d put a Peabody diva to shame. I got out of the performing arts to try avoid those extreme attitudes.
Even the “good” groups and events seemed to have an undercurrent of skepticism and criticism. I’d go and wait my turn to read. After I’d read, there would be polite thanks for sharing, but never anything useful. No enthusiasm, no advice for making it better, no one even cussing at me about how terrible they thought I was. I’d always come away feeling unsure rather than inspired.
So the levity and encouragement on Saturday? It was a breath of fresh air. The welcoming atmosphere and sincere invitations to read or perform something of your own and keep the party going? It was a blast. I had to leave before the mic opened for non-scheduled performers but despite my anxiety and general habit of backing out of things, I wanted to stay and read something. For the first time, I’ve found a place that’s empowering for me. And based on how many people were there, and how many people wanted to stay, I don’t think I’m alone in this.
So yes, I made the right choice. It wasn’t what I expected and it wasn’t filled with friends and it didn’t even have any snacks or booze, but it’s the most fun I’ve had at someone else’s shindig in some time. I love it when life validates the conclusions of my personal introspection.