Open Hearts in the Allcove

Redondo students watched and participated in open mic night at Allcove Beach Cities.

Gazing up at the performer from her seat in the audience, sophomore Sophia Lonergan couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe at the heartfelt poetry she had just witnessed. The poem, one about the complex experience of being a woman, deeply resonated with Lonergan.  

“Their poems really stuck with me,” said Lonergan. “That’s why I feel like the Young Artists Society is so great. They’re helping young musicians and artists come together and connect with each other. I’ve already made a few friends just by going to shows.”

The Young Artist Society (YAS) was founded by South Bay residents Gwyneth Dowdee, Audrey Whitehead, and Saha Lerman, as a way to give local young artists (ages 15-25) a platform to share their work. Their first Open Mic Night was held at Redondo’s very own mental health center Allcove Beach Cities on Feb 25. It invited every attendee to come up and give a performance, even those who hadn’t preemptively signed up.

“I honestly hadn’t planned on doing anything originally,” said senior Reece Cartee. “But the energy in the venue was so inviting and comfy, and pretty low-stakes too, so I just went for it. My friend Ava and I performed ‘The Cups Song’ from Pitch Perfect, and we had a lot of fun with it.”

There were plenty of planned performances as well, including some by various young musical talents, who graced the stage with a mix of original songs and covers. One such act was Lonergan, who joined up with a couple of her friends for a rendition of “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac and “Pool House” by The Backseat Lovers. 

“This was a little bit of a last-minute thing, so we only had one or two rehearsals,” said Lonergan. “But since the crowd was only about 20-ish people, it felt very intimate and chill. I felt no pressure at all because people were so supportive, clapping after each act and things like that. Everyone there was very personable and made me feel so comfortable on stage.”

Another one of the main takeaways from the event, besides the fun memories and free snacks, was the wide variety of performances. From slam poetry to original music, the night presented the opportunity for any type of performance artist to come up and show their skills. But even though a majority of acts stuck to music or spoken word storytelling, each person managed to bring something distinct and stylistically unique to the stage.

“I write a certain type of poetry that tells a story, but a lot of the poetry I heard was people talking about themselves and what they’ve been through,” said senior Shae Reger.  “I thought it was so cool to get that different perspective.  I actually got inspired and wrote two poems right after the event, and I’m currently writing another one.” 

And since, according to Lonergan, the YAS will be making these open mic nights a monthly occurrence, plenty of those who chose to go solely as audience members will have another opportunity to showcase their own art and performance skills on the Allcove stage. One such person is Reger, who is already planning her future read-aloud.

“My mom owns a restaurant called Sister’s Barn which has had reading nights before, and I’ve read some of my stuff at those,” said Reger. “That experience was super fun, so I’m looking forward to the next open mic where I can try out sharing my poems with a new audience. Everyone is so kind no matter what, so I think it’s going to be a fun time.” 

These upcoming events will also provide opportunities for physical media artists such as Cartee to display their work, as the YAS also takes submissions of not just live presentations, but also other forms of art like photography and paintings. 

“I think at the next show I’ll submit some of my photography, because why not?” said Cartee. “It’s all very easygoing and non-judgemental over there. Anyone can show anything as long as it’s some form of art. The YAS is just here to help people meet some new friends and support all these amazing local artists who are brave enough to share their works.”