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Iguanas Offers Open Mic for Burrito Fans

In Music
Photo by Aron Cooperman

Photo by Aron Cooperman

Every Thursday night in downtown San Jose, Iguanas Taqueria hosts its weekly open-mic session. The soft ambiance of neon lighting from the front window serves as a backdrop for the performers, and encouraging accoutrements such as an excellent sound system, microphones and bar stools are provided.

The crowd is generally a supportive group of young and old, regulars and newcomers, that come together to soak up some self-expression ranging from stand-up comedy to spoken word, from rappers to acoustic musicians.

The seats are mostly always filled, and the small room draws a comfortably close peanut gallery to the back. A few times throughout the show, the enthusiastic hosts recommend that everyone high-five the person next to them and introduce themselves. It’s a “come as strangers, leave as friends” type of vibe.

Many of the performers are local artists hoping to get their name and/or message out to the public. One individual from Fremont who uses the stage name Chekmate plans to make Iguanas’ open-mic night a regular event on his calendar: “I was just walking around in downtown and popped my head in and decided I was going to start coming more often.” He hopes to bring more of his music, especially his own R&B material, to future open mics.

Some performers are already in the network and want to expand their repertoire. Two business partners from Southern California who specialize in club promotions produce what they consider “an advanced and improved LMFAO,” a dance club-rap sound. They had the audience foot-tapping and head-nodding along.

The most interesting part of the Iguanas open-mic sessions is that these performers are real people subject to the same daily satisfactions and struggles as the rest of us. The curtain between performer and audience is made transparent here. As one performer put it, “Poetry don’t pay.” These artists are all here because they love to both watch and participate.

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