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Strictly Slam

Walk into Café Royale and enter the inviting atmosphere of a spacious jazz café with a crowd of 50 or so spread out on the large semicircular couch, sitting at side tables, up on the balcony or at the bar (which serves coffee, sandwiches, beer and wine). The Bay Area is home to many intense slam poets, as you'll see when you witness the night's verbal acrobats, not to mention the different feature slammers each month, whose words will reverberate in your memory and suspend you in time like Jet Li wheeling in slow motion through mid-air.

Strictly Slam promises to entertain, with a moderator who keeps her listeners lively and participating, and DJs spinning downtempo and reggae filling any gaps. The diverse, all-ages audience banters with the emcee, giving friendly responses to the poets and cheering encouragement. No apathy allowed. Judges picked at random from the audience are generous (otherwise the crowd jeers), so first-time poets make a showing, too. Those who make it past round one may get tougher scoring, but in round two some rise to the challenge. Tens held up high. Exhilaration.

The sense of community shows itself in the presence of the organizers from other slam events, who come up to perform or lend a hand keeping score. They share stories like the one the current host tells of how she met her fellow organizer at the Coco Club the first time either of them slammed -- they ended up tying each other for first place, then splitting the meager $10 prize. Entertainment aside, the poets display combinations of depth and bravado, talent and quirkiness; some introspective, some loud, some beginners, some experienced. Their rhythm, emotion, wordplay and honesty can and does inspire.

Strictly Slam
Last Sunday of the Month
Café Royale
800 Post Street at Leavenworth, 415.441.4099
Signup at 7:30 pm, Show from 8 to 11:30 pm, $6