9 Things I Have Learned From Starting and Hosting “The Best Open Mic Night In the World”

What ingredients go into our magical, musical, witches' brew every Thursday night at Punta Origen

Travis W. King

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I have a friend in Buenos Aires who runs “Folk You Monday,” who would likely dispute my claim—“Best Open Mic in the World.” Her Open Mic is truly fantastic.

But, after running an Open Mic Night in the La Punta Neighborhood of Puerto Escondido for over two and a half years now—I know our Open Mic is one of the very best in the world.

Every Thursday just before 8 pm, people from all over Puerto Escondido start making their way towards Open Mic night. The sand floor of Punta Origen first fills with 50, then 100, then sometimes just after 9 pm, 150–250 people fill in the last spaces between tables, chairs, and palm trees.

Most nights well over 20 musicians put their names on the list. To the last few, I usually try to say “The show ends at 11, but I’ll try my best to get you up!”

Microfono Abierto, baby! Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash

Now that it’s deeply entrenched in the weekly schedule of Puerto Escondido, I don’t have to do anything ahead of time to ensure this gathering of artists and music lovers takes place. It now happens the same way that high tide happens. It’s a part of the natural rhythms of this little paradise.

My partner and I moved to Puerto Escondido—the La Punta neighborhood, specifically—in October 2020, in the grip of the pandemic. I knew that I wanted to play more music when I arrived. I also knew that I wanted to start an Open Mic night somewhere in my new hometown.

Prior to the pandemic, I had been traveling non-stop for almost 9 years. Throughout that time, I almost always had a travel guitar with me. When arriving in any new town, before googling “what to do” or “where to eat” I would look up “Open Mic night _________.” I’ve now played Open Mic in something like 20 different countries around the world.

I was served milk after performing in Japan. I befriended Snake Tits (the host) at The House of Machines in Cape Town. I was heckled in Vietnam for playing 30 seconds of a John Mayer song in the middle of a mash-up. I was welcomed at the door by name after a year-long hiatus…

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Travis W. King

Traveling, writing, & working abroad for 10 years. Former Remote Year Dir. of Community. Check out my travel memoir—Not That Anyone Asked—at www.traviswking.com