On Thursday the 4th I stepped foot into a building I had been to dozens of times, but only visited one side of. The Velvet Lounge is attached to the always amazing, incredibly delicious Curry Club, easily my favourite place to eat. I have been going there for years - but somehow never thought to walk across the hall to The Velvet Lounge and see what all the (well-earned) hype was about. Setauket is a hike, and the likelihood of going that far out of the way for a few drinks when I already barely want to leave the house is well... unlikely.
The Muse was hosting an Open-Mic and being in the swing of things these days I decided to check out the space and see how I would be received. At this moment my spoken word "repertoire" so to speak, does not really, in my opinion, mesh with the bar scene. With pieces that primarily speaks of body image and vulnerability I have been having difficulty settling into place within loud and dark venues where more "sass" is welcomed, and where music is likely preferred, but, in the year of 2018 I am saying "Fuck it" to most things, and so I went, and I read.
While I felt like the first piece I read was not really suited by the stand up bass plucking away in the background was nice, and helped lighten my words being read at the front of a group of bar-going strangers (although most of them were there for poetry, and Velvet does a pretty good job of lightening the mood on its own with twinkle bulbs and amazing art lining the walls. The atmosphere is both cozy and sexy, the reading left me feeling like I've missed out on a gem all these years indeed. My remaining two pieces vibed more with the musical addition to the stage, and though the room wasn't full (downside of going up early in the mic) the people present were engaged in my words - I consider that success!
It was wonderful to see a few familiar faces, Melanie Sirof absolutely nailed her first Suffolk-County feature and it was fabulous to hear her read again since the Poetry Slam, in addition to seeing her once more after the phenominal TedX talk she hosted a few weeks ago! Travis Madison is a marvelously charismatic host that keeps the room light and the jokes coming. The Muse events get me to push past my comfort zone every. single. time. Hell, simply by showing up I'm already doing so - reading outside of my "safe spaces" and away from the people who have been watching me grow as a writer for many years, trying different techniques and styles, learning to perform under varying atmospheres, it's become a personal "workshop" for me, and I'm enjoying feeling challenged, and humbled to be scared.
On a side note: a gin and seltzer most definitely helps take the edge off of a reading, I wish every open-mic featured an open-bar!