Betty’s Coffee Open Mic Night, Dalston

I’ve been playing guitar on and off for almost five years now, but frustratingly I never persevere long enough to learn full songs, or write my own stuff. Just the odd snippet here and there that I haven’t been able to string together. So I set myself an aim for 2015 that this would change, and that I’d get myself along to an open mic night, no matter how big or small. That would force me to at least learn a few covers in full.

My starting point on this mission was naturally to carry out some research. How good did I have to be to not look like an awkward mess?

A friend of mine from university who used to play open mic nights in Leeds recently moved to London, and had come across a few good venues dotted around the city. So on a Tuesday night I joined her at Betty’s Coffee, a narrow coffee shop slash bar combo in Dalston with a stage at one end of the room.

There’s no hiding in Betty’s. But there’s no judgement passed either. It’s a very intimate venue with only a narrow space to watch the performers, each with their own story, their own style, and the stage is theres whether you like it or not. But even if you don’t like it, you show some bloody support and applaud the creativity and courage it takes to get up there.

Performers tend to give three performances at a time. I use the word performers as opposed to singers deliberately as it could literally be anything. This evening’s entertainment ranged from guitar players to passionate poets, from tribal singers to movie-themed illustrators, and combinations of all of the above. And it draws them in from far and wide. I saw a woman from Kansas give her first performance in London, a man from Cardiff pop in for a rendition before he jumped on a train home, and then me, who jumped on an overground to Dalston. But one thing I really liked, other than the fairly priced beers, was that no one was really bothered how good you were. There were mistakes, songs cut short and bad singing, but everyone had the support of the fifteen or so people in the room!

It inspired me to really put some effort into my music. I will play there by the end of the year, and I might even try to write my own music. Watch this space.


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