How We Created Open Mic Vallarta

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This year (2017) I started an Open Mic with my friend Andrew here in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where we live.  I wanted a regular venue in which I could test run my new stories and spoken word poetry, and we both liked the idea of creating a community event for local artists.  

Today I’ll be sharing how our project started, how it works and how it is quickly morphing into something much bigger than ourselves and which I am happy to say falls into the “doing good” category.

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We began with a lot of coffee shop conversations discussing issues like our target audience, what kind of “vibe” we wanted to create, our name, and what we liked and didn’t like about other similar events.  We decided to target a bilingual (English/Spanish), youngish (30ish and under) crowd, and tried to communicate that ours is a fun, inclusive project for the local community.  We had a logo made, started a Facebook page, and began preparing for our first event.

In thinking about a location, we had several criteria to fill.   We wanted a place that would be large enough for our expected attendance of 25-30 people, in a location that was easily accessible, with an area that would work as a stage, and with ambient noise on the low side because I planned to film my performance.  We chose a local restaurant that seemed to fit the bill, and decided on a date in early June.

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We began advertising on Facebook and although we were a little worried about having enough participants, in the end we had to turn away performers.  This was a good sign for possible future events.  Because we weren’t willing to leave the success of our premier to chance, rather than having a traditional Open Mic in which people signed up on the spot, we decided to have what we call a “curated” Open Mic, in which people coordinated with us in advance.  This allowed us to create a lineup that flowed nicely from music to stories and/or poetry and back to music, with a short intermission about half way through.  Also, we wanted to have a good mix of performances in both Spanish and English.

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Our first open mic went amazingly well, especially considering that in addition to covering all of the logistics Andrew and I both told original stories.   You can see mine here.  We were proud of our performers, and we got a lot of feedback from those in attendance, thanking us for creating an event of this type.  A few days later, after we had more or less recovered, we met to debrief.  We talked about what went well, what we could improve on, and made notes for next time.  We both already had summer travel commitments so decided to hold our next event in September.

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One thing we had talked about on and off was the idea of giving the Open Mic community an opportunity to support a good cause.  And then the devastating earthquake here in Mexico happened.  We knew immediately that raising support for victims of the earthquake would be our cause.  And then something completely unexpected and wonderful happened... (To be continued.  I know, I know :)