The open space of Cafeteria in New Paltz on Main Street is dim and warmly lit. The mellow atmosphere of the space is enhanced by a young man slowly dancing in front of the Cafeteria audience to a backing-track. It’s Monday which means it’s Open Mic Night at Cafeteria.
Sign ups for artists start at 7p.m. but the show begins at 8. Open Mic hosts a forum for performers, such as poets, comedians, and musicians, to express their crafts to the public.
The mix of talent is as varied as the audience. One man performed a song and dance for the audience; another a comedy act. One young man plays a version of an Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I”, while another young musician, Theo, performs a mix of folk-country songs. At one point the audience breaks out into a rhythmic claps in time with the music- a sign that this is a place where musicians can perform for an audience who is there to appreciate their craft.
Open Mic remains a valuable tool for performers to express their crafts and it also is a place for everyone to engage in intellectual and artistic culture. It is full of studying students, eager listeners and artistic hippies—all who come searching for a place where they can listen and engage with the arts.
The reasons why people go to the Open Mic are as different as the individual. Some go purely to enjoy the scene and the raw culture of the night itself. Felicity Pickering, a student from SUNY New Paltz, said that she goes purely to enjoy the ambiance of the coffee shop, as well as the alternative culture that it brings. James, a first-year from SUNY New Paltz, also likes to attend the nights. “[You] really see the raw talent,” he said.
The nights themselves are relaxing, entertaining and a good way to experience the alternate culture that New Paltz has to offer. Patrons are able stroll through and leave when they please plus food and drinks are always available to order. Monday nights at Cafeteria in New Paltz are a good way to really enjoy the town.