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Arise...

In the back room of the Long Haul Infoshop, a young MC rises up to take the mic after a lengthy DJ set. He is comfortable on the mic, alternating between rhymes and side comments to the DJ and to the few people hanging out on the couches and stairways. We're at Arise..., billed as a monthly hiphop open mic joint dedicated to anti-corporate, do-it-yourself, revolutionary culture.

True to its underground vibe, the sign-up list at the door is empty, save for one name. The feeling is more of a laidback, free-flowing set where whoever wants to can just get up and freestyle or do some poetry on the mic.

At first, Arise seems to be more of a kick-it spot, with folks quietly chatting, lounging and browsing through the revolutionary zines in the Long Haul's front room between poets and MCs, who get on the mic when the mood strikes.

The freeform vibe of the open mic is different from most open mics in the Bay Area and creates more of an anything-goes atmosphere. The downside of that is evidenced when some audience members become restless as one talented MC dominates the mic for 20 minutes.

When Marisol, one of the featured MCs of the night, calls on the crowd to get up on their feet, the space is transformed again as audience members groove to her rhymes and Spindler's beats.

A hiphop group, Colored Ink, drops in after a show across the street at La Peņa Cultural Center and gets right on the mic to the delight of the already dancing crowd.

Arise is put on by a local East Bay group called Revolutionary Anti-Authoritarians of Color, better known as RACE. For the past year, it has been been alternating between the 40th Street Warehouse space and the Long Haul Infoshop, an activist center and reading room in Berkeley for the local anarchist scene.

Although at times amorphous, Arise has carved out a unique space for its constituency and embodies the very politics it believes in: if it doesn't exist, do it yourself.

Arise...
The Long Haul Infoshop, 3124 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
Third Friday of the month @ 8:30 pm (signup)
$5, all ages