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Final Fridays: Under 21 Open Mic

Final Fridays is part of Youth Speaks' Bringing the Noise Reading Series, hosted by members of Spokes Youth Board -- their all-youth Board and internship program. Each year for more than 3 years, creative, new members join their producing crew, drawn from teen participants of In-School Workshops and After-School Programs all around the area (with strong East Bay representation). The results? An influx of fresh ideas to an already hyped-up group, hungry for their turn to present. And yes, it is boisterous!

The monthly, in-house, Under 21 Open Mic, starts out the year by scouting for and drawing in "young, burning poets, MCs, writers, singers, and artists of any definition to spit what they've got on the mic." They aim to make it a more diverse show every time. Open Mic sign-ups and beats start "around 7" -- but the word is that you should write your name on the list early, or else not make it on if the place gets packed (which is more likely to happen than not).

Features from month to month span a wide range of styles and backgrounds, and while the DJs often change, the records always turn on a funked-out groove. Everyone celebrates in a friendly gathering focused on having fun and getting their feelings out. Of course it's not just about raw emotion. The arena here can also set itself up for intelligent, deep-thinking minds to expound their own pertinent viewpoints. Expect an equally outspoken audience, used to exchanging opinions with gusto.

In March, the buzz gets out that poets should use the mic here as preparation for the YS Teen Poetry Slam. This is when some peak activity unfolds. You may see performers ripping of shirts and pounding chests, faces contorted and fists raised. It's an opportunity to try new styles for the first time. Not surprisingly, they give their all -- no inhibitions whatsoever, and that's the best part. Where would we be without the youth who are unafraid to tell the truth?

Final Fridays: Under 21 Open Mic
Youth Speaks Center
2169 Folsom St. (between 17th & 18th), San Francisco, 415.255.9035
Last Friday of the month, All ages (mic reserved for under-21s), 7 PM signup