I have spent four years at UTM and I have never been to an open mic night at the Blind Duck. To be honest, I’ve hardly been to the Blind Duck at all. When I heard DisOrientation Week was hosting a pub night, I couldn’t pass it up.
Although the open mic was meant to start at 7 p.m., things didn’t actually get rolling for another 20 minutes, which gave me time to scope out a seat and figure out the etiquette. There was quite a crowd, enough to fill the pub with a chatty, bubbling atmosphere. A small part of me figured that most UTM students were up to their ears in textbooks and not much else, but this open mic was evidence that a lot of art goes on in students’ spare time. A few people set up the stage, wearing black T-shirts that read “F*ck the System”—the U replaced by a clenched fist.
At the opening of the show, I learned that the “F*ck the System” theme was aimed at breaking down social norms and stereotypes surrounding everything from racism to colonialism to sexism, passing by ageism and ableism. Each piece reflected social equality and acceptance.
All of the performances focused on sensitive topics that fit into the night’s theme. Police brutality, domestic violence, war, body image, bullying, racism, women’s stereotypes, and consumerism were all displayed through various art forms. The performances varied from surprising breakdancing moves to pointed, poetic spoken word pieces that addressed the societal issues around feminism and the perception of the female body. Woven in between those performances were several pop song covers. What I liked best about the pieces the performers chose was that each seemed to speak to the artist on a personal level.
My only criticism of the event is that the transitions between performances did slow the proceedings down, stretching the evening longer than it needed to be.
But in the end, my favourite kind of art, no matter the form it takes, is what happens when someone has a story they cannot help but share with others.