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Ethnic Student Center hosts Open Mic Night at Underground

Sophomore Jessica Domingo's guitar accompanies senior Karimeh Daneshmandi's rendition of "Put Your Records On" at the Ethnic Student Center's Open Mic Night on Tuesday, May 17 at the Underground Coffeehouse. // Photo by Alex Halverson
Sophomore Jessica Domingo’s guitar accompanies senior Karimeh Daneshmandi’s rendition of “Put Your Records On” at the Ethnic Student Center’s Open Mic Night on Tuesday, May 17 at the Underground Coffeehouse. // Photo by Alex Halverson

By Alex Halverson

Applause rings through the Underground Coffeehouse as sophomore Jessica Domingo, who self identifies as Filipino, finishes her original song “Just Vibe” to a packed crowd filled with members of the Ethnic Student Center on Tuesday, May 17 at the Underground Coffeehouse. 

“I think when you’re doing an open mic and it’s a smaller room, it’s really intimate,” Domingo said. “You’re able to connect more with people.”

The event was not a regular open mic night the Underground Coffeehouse holds each Tuesday but one held by the ESC as a way for individuals who may have have not wanted to perform at the largely attended Culture Shock, another event put on by the ESC to allow students to share their culture, to express their talents to a smaller, more personal crowd.

“I just wanted to think about all different types of personalities and how our programming can be inclusive,” said Cultural Education Coordinator Patricia Pacheco, senior, who self-identifies as Mexican.

Much like Culture Shock, the event focused on diversity and celebrating various cultures were evident throughout the night.

Sophomore William Lounsbery, who self-identifies as White and is a regular at open mic nights, said he found himself snapping and applauding to each performance, noticing the emphasis put on expressing culture along with the personal expression an open mic night entails.

“I thought it was nice. There were lots of songs and poetry written from different cultural backgrounds,” Lounsbery said. “The theme and the idea is cultural diversity and how the cultures are defining themselves.”

Senior Karimeh Daneshmandi, who self-identifies as non-white and is the programming coordinator of the Underground Coffeehouse, was the last to go on stage. She performed a cover of “Put Your Records On” with guitar accompaniment from Domingo.

“Coffeehouses are a really important space for students to have that intimate connection with other students through the form of art,” Daneshmandi said.

The largely-attended event was the first of its kind Daneshmandi or Pacheco had put together and the first in a relationship Daneshmandi hopes to see blossom.

“I really wish to see more of a relationship with the ESC and Associated Students Productions,” Daneshmandi said. “That’s something I regret not doing more of. It would be a great collaboration, and it would really hold under the values of the student body of Western.”

Songs were sung, but there was also poetry and prose spoken by a number of students, including the ESC’s own Pacheco, along with an acapella rap performance by Western hip-hop group Pax and Manny, due to some problems with the sound system.

Rapping about their culture, heritage and the ways they expressed it, Pax and Manny brushed off the technical difficulties and smiled while delivering their art to the supportive crowd.

“I’d do it again,” said senior Francisco Sanchez, Pax of Pax and Manny, who self-identifies as Mexican, “but maybe with a little more preparation.”

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