Nip in the air, cozy cafe and music to keep you happy --- Bringing in Winter, an open-mic session organised by Chaitown Community at Potboiler Coffee House, Lake Terrace Road, on November 19 was a big hit. More than 10 budding singers performed for the live audience.
Chaitown Community is a Kolkata-based youth group offering online music lessons, writing classes, photo-nature walks. The community formed in 2021 has started organising open mic nights at local cafes where strangers become friends and enjoy music together.
“Our biggest struggle was finding a venue during the pandemic. We followed all COVID protocol and worked tirelessly to ensure a safe environment. It’s challenging to organise a physical event after such a long gap. We got a lot of support from music enthusiasts and the open mic night was a huge success,” said Elizabeth Decker aka Aunty Elizabeth, founder of Chaitown Community.
The Chaitown Community recruits talented youngsters with achievements who teach the students. They plan to have gig rooms where musicians can practise, collaborate and jam.
“We tried to reintroduce music into our audience’s life after a long break. We hope that new faces who performed at the open mics will continue to perform and be a part of our community. The open mic night saw people come together, smile, sing, and bond like a family,” said Rydell Medley, a 26-year-old vocalist, who also teaches music at Chaitown Community.
“Chaitown Community provides opportunities to artists and encourages talented people to come forward. I have learned how to express myself here. I was so scared for my first gig. But everybody held my hand and told me that it’s going to be fine. They encouraged me to go up on stage and show my talent to the audience. I usually perform acoustic versions of pop songs at the open mics. Songs of idols who inspire me like Shakira and Taylor Swift,” said Moushami Bhattacharya, a first-year master’s in Clinical Psychology student of NSHM Knowledge Campus and a member of Chaitown Community.
Here’s what some of the performers had to say:
It feels amazing to perform after so many months. No matter how much I practise at home, it doesn’t feel the same without the live audience. It’s very hard to stay motivated without being able to perform on stage. I tried motivating myself by practising for this day when I will finally get my stage back. I sang Tired, my original song and The A Team by Ed Sheeran.
Prantik Majumder, a second-year BMS student at St Xavier’s College
The lockdown demotivated me and I stopped singing. I suffered from anxiety. I’m trying to get out of that slowly. Today’s opportunity to perform after two-and-a-half years made me feel good. The ambience was perfect as the audience was interactive. I sang Dancing With Our Hands Tied by Taylor Swift and Gypsy by Shakira.
Moushami Bhattacharya, a first-year master’s in Clinical Psychology student of NSHM Knowledge Campus
I have been performing since my school days. I have not performed on stage for close to three years. It’s so different from performing on Insta live. Initially, I was a bit doubtful of whether the crowd would like my songs but the audience was extremely welcoming. I have always seen the stage as my home and the audience as my friends --- this helps me take my mind off unnecessary nervous thoughts. Also, whenever I perform, I have my family and friends in the audience supporting me so that helps, too. I am looking forward to more such open mics. I sang Kabhi kabhi Aditi from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Aye zindagi gale laga le by Suresh Wadkar.
Aditi Dey Roy, a second-year Economics student of Amity University
It felt like a sudden release of all the dopamine that has been depositing for so long. I tried to focus on my music and not think of what my audience might feel --- that is how I tried to cope with my stage fright. This is something I want to continue doing all my life. I sang Mon majhi re by Arijit Singh, Teri deewani by Kailash Kher and Pehli nazar mein by Atif Aslam.
Rajorshi Manna, a third-year Economics student at The Heritage College
I was waiting to perform my original songs since the lockdown days. It was refreshing meeting like-minded people. With every gig, I get to learn something new, get used to stage frights, face my fear, and of course, get better. Singing is my passion. I sang Bestfriend and Rang, my original songs written during the lockdown.
Bhaskarjyoti Deka, a third-year BCom student of The Bhawanipur Education Society College
I believe with each performance one grows better. During the lockdown, I learned how to play the guitar. Previously, I needed a professional guitarist along with me, but now I can play on my own. The pandemic also gave me time to think and write lyrics. I have shared some of my originals on social media. In the absence of a stage, social media platforms played an important role during the lockdown. But returning to a room full of singers humming together popular songs is a different experience. I sang Tu aur mai an original song, and Aaj jane ki zid na karo by Farida Khanum.
Rajdeep Majumdar, a 2018 Electrical Engineering graduate from Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT)