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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thing 139: SpeakeasyDC

Eye of the Tiger.  If It Makes You Happy.  Take Me Home, Mountain Roads.

We all have songs that trigger intense memories, that put us right back into a time and a place in our lives, that make us giggle or blush or weep.  Dr. Dre's Keep They Heads Ringin' puts me right back in Mr. Nelson's seventh grade science class.  Stacey's Mom brings me back to driving the snow covered roads of pre-caucus Iowa in 2003 and the intense pull of first love.  Nelly's Hot in Herre drops me in the midst of the happy reunion of roommates in those first few days of senior year, after we'd all returned from various studies abroad and couldn't tell our stories fast enough, a jumble of words and photos spilling all over each other, laughing and dancing and printing out Nelly's lyrics and attaching to them to the fridge so we could try to memorize them in idle moments.  

But while these songs and countless others bring up intense memories and feelings of time and place for me, it is decidedly harder to spin these feelings into great stories, with a beginning, middle and end, with a lesson or a poignant moment or laughter strewn throughout.  Which is exactly what the storytellers at SpeakeasyDC have learned to do.  

SpeakeasyDC offers workshops and performances for storytellers -- seasoned or beginners.  Every month the group gathers for performances, and every month has a theme.  February's theme was "Mixtape" and all the stories revolved around a song.  Some stories were funny and alive with embarrassment, others were personal and quite poignant.  

Mike got up to tell us about a rather unfortunate incident that occurred while he was running on the treadmill.  Just as Eye of the Tiger came on, he, er, lost control and had to flee the gym quickly and in a haze of blushing embarrassment.  He'd crafted it so that we were all laughing out loud, and he laughed with us at his own misfortune.  Suji told her story of trying to find love, centered around her love of music and in particular her love of There's a Light That Never Goes Out, by the Smiths.  It was quiet, honest and real -- an unglamorous look at the good and the bad decisions we make in the pursuit of love.  And Meredith told us the story of her sheltered Mormon roommate her freshman year of college, a funny but mean tale of revenge, humiliation and the "h-word" in If It Makes You Happy.  

I love story telling.  I love the Moth podcast, I love This American Life, it's one of the reason I love improv, and why I primarily read fiction.  I have a great respect for those who can tell good stories, dropping in important details that matter later, keeping people enthralled the whole time.  And if you feel your story telling skills could use a tuneup, SpeakeasyDC also holds four-week workshops, in which you learn the fundamentals of the craft, and ultimately get to perform in open mic settings such as these.

This event was held in the upstairs room at Station 9 (which is huge and awesome, by the way.  Does anyone know anyone there?).  It cost $10, and they had full food and drink menus available, though we'd eaten prior to arriving.

Full disclosure, the Boyfriend and I left at intermission.  Not because we weren't enjoying ourselves -- we really were -- but because this event is simply too popular.  We couldn't find a place to sit, and we got tired of standing on the edges of the crowd (one of us was in heels no less).  We will return, but we will get there early, and I recommend you do the same.

I've started corporate blogging, too!  If you just can't get enough of me over on DC365, or if you are interested in seeing a completely different side of my life, I am one of the contributors of Aristotle's new blog, In The Know.  Pop over and check it out over!


SpeakeasyDC said...

Thanks for the fantastic write up about SpeakeasyDC (Thing 139). (Full disclosure: I'm the director). Glad you found us, but sorry you had to leave. I'm trying to get more chairs for the open mic and bigger venues for our special events. Hope to see you at the next show on March 10.