Student performances address social issues at Open Mic Night

Alena Naiden, Staff Writer

De Anza students, instructors and featured artists turned the Euphrat Museum into a performance hall, filling it with their music, energy and passion for Open Mic Night on Nov. 6.

Planned performances interchanged and intertwined with students’ improvisation that continued even after the three-hour show was over.

Each first Thursday of the month people gather at the Open Mic to share their poetry, spoken word, songs, rap and any other kind of art.

“It was the best turnout we’ve ever had!” said Albert Lutz-Paap, 25, communications studies major and an organizer of the event.

About 25 performers – first timers and experienced artists included – appeared on the stage in front of the packed house. “Every time it gets bigger and bigger,” Lutz-Paap said.

Audience members came and went, but the atmosphere stayed warm and supportive. Students encouraged each performer, even if he or she forgot the words or was too nervous to start.

After his comedic speech about a date with a female unicorn whom he ate and girls from anime who don’t have nipples, one of the performers, Levin Rajas, 18, nursing major asked, “Am I weird yet?”

The hall answered him with a unanimous “Yes!”

“And we love it!” a female voice added.

The stage itself was just an area in front of rows of chairs, with no podium or enclosure. Neither was there a border between the audience and performers.

Most of the audience soon enough came up to share their own art, and even those who didn’t perform, were engaged.
When students were making jokes from the stage, the public caught them up and responded, and when Lyneisha Smith, 21, journalism major, sang her cover of J. Cole’s “Be Free” with a deep rich voice, people raised their lighters in appreciation.

Students brought up many different topics in their art. Some sang light lyrical songs about first love; others touched hard social-oriented topics like Smith did, singing about the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

Edif Yousuf, a political science major, performed with her touching poem “Why do I take so much space?” in which she described her bitter feelings of being different and unwelcome. The hall was silent while she read, and blew up with noise after she had finished.

Organizers usually invite feature artists to each Open Mic and leave an open list for whomever wants to come in. This time, one of the invited performers was Andrew Bigs, a rapper whose career also started at De Anza. He confessed how significant it was to him to perform again in the walls of the Euphrat Museum.

“That’s why I wanna see people taking the first step in sharing their art,” said Nilo Amiri, 25, marketing major. “You see students who are starting up, and you can see them grow.”

Attending Open Mic is more than just performing or watching a performance; it is to meet new people and enjoy an atmosphere that help a student to feel how warm and welcoming the college community is.

Amiri said, “You feel like it’s something more than just going to classes.”