By Ciéra Cree & Joshua Dowding
On Friday 21st February, both The Ruskin Journal and the Creative Writing Society co-hosted an open mic event as part of LGBTQ+ History Month. For those of you that couldn’t attend, the event took place between 7 o’clock and 10 o’clock in The Academy hall on Cambridge campus.
The theme for this year’s LGBTQ+ History Month was ‘poetry, prose and playwrights’ – something that both of our societies know something about and saw as an opportunity to work together to bring an event to life.
“The open mic was open to all, it felt really inclusive to the diverse students that were able to showcase their talent in a safe space with safe people.”Gabs Bennington, The Ruskin Journal & Attendee
Creating a space where people could share their passions, and feel accepted for who they are, was very important to us. The Students’ Union had decorated The Academy with various flags and accoutrements baring the symbols of the movement we sought to represent. And all throughout the planning stages of the event, something about this night felt special to us.
Each table a copy of The Ruskin Journal’s latest annual, as well as an assortment of snacks, and a variety of sexual health packs put together by Amanda Campbell, AHSS Vice President, as part of her ‘Best Night Out’ campaign. We’re told at least a few of them went!
“It’s a safe space, a small nook in Cambridge which attracted vibrant diverse people and reminded them that they have a place in the world.”Shania Perera, Performer
At 7 o’clock, people started to fill the room. While some mingled, others took their seats. It was exciting to watch the event slowly come to life as more and more people turned up at the doors, poking their heads in first before their bodies joined them shortly after. And before too long, The Academy was nearly full – incredible, we thought. If only we’d started on time!
It took until around quarter to 8 before the flow of people began to ease and the audience took their seats. But eventually, Merika and Ciera took to the stage to kick off the night in earnest with a short speech that went like this:
Thank you for coming along to our event, since planning for this started, we’ve all been very excited to see it unfold. We’re proud to be showing a unity not only between our two societies tonight but also one between us here together, supporting and accepting each other.
We hope that you leave this room feeling happy, comfortable and most importantly like you belong. No one should be made to feel that they aren’t accepted or allowed to be who they are.
We, first before anything, would like to thank you for taking the time to be here in support of your fellow friends and students. Our university holds such a beautiful diversity of cultures, ideas and beliefs, some of which we’re here to celebrate right now.
The night saw a total of 19 performances take place ranging from beautiful spoken word to poetry, from music to rap, and even some acapella performances to boot. Pieces like Shania Perera’s ‘A Distracted Physicist’, to Freddy’s infamous bars that got everyone joining in, to a glorious rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ by Ronnie to cap off the evening in style.
For the record, we have included a complete list of the night’s performances below:
- Merika – 19:49 PM – Poem
- Pavlov & Antony – 19:53 PM – Music (‘Heart-Shaped Box’ – Nirvana)
- Pavlov & Antony – 19:58 PM – Music (‘Come As You Are’ – Nirvana)
- Bee – 20:06 PM – Poem (featured at Desperate Fleas)
- Ciera – 20:17 PM – Poem
- Ciera – 20:18 PM – Poem
- Gabs – 20:25 PM – Poem
- Shania – 20:29 PM – Poem
- Georgie & Greg – 20:38 PM – Music (‘Vienna’ – Billy Joel)
- Georgie & Greg – 20:42 PM – Music (‘Toss a Coin to Your Witcher’)
- Greg (Solo) – 20:45 PM – Music (‘Bleeding Sky’ – upcoming album)
- Daryl – 20:55 PM – Poem (‘Gaps’)
- Daryl – 21:01 PM – Poem
- Daryl – 21:11 PM – Poem
- Freddy – 21:14 PM – Music (“hell yeah!”)
- Pavlov & Antony – 21:22 PM – Music (‘Creep’ – Radiohead)
- Shania – 21:33 PM – Poem
- (we’re sorry, we didn’t catch your name!) – 21:45 PM – Poem
- Ronnie – 21:54 PM – Music (‘Hallelujah’ – Jeff Buckley)
After all was said and done, Merika Tencati took to the stage once again to thank everyone for making the event a night to remember. Sentiment was expressed, events were plugged, and the night drew neatly to a close – and what an incredible night it was.
“It was a great collaboration between Creative Writing, Ruskin Journal and the Students Union. I had a lot of fun and was happy to see so many students and staff supporting the LGBTQ+ community.”Merika Tencati, Creative Writing Society & Co-Host
We would like to thank everyone who came to this, our inaugural open mic event, and thank you to the people who helped us make it all possible. We’ll see you at the next one!