By Sara Ligarde
Once a month, Baylor students get to show off their artistic abilities by taking center stage at Acoustic Café, a student-led talent show in the Student Union Building (SUB). Every show varies by theme, ranging from musical performances to comedic acts to poetry. January’s Acoustic Café was themed “An Enchanted Evening in Paris” and was centered around original poetry and spoken-word performances.
Acoustic Café is organized every month by the Union Board, a new organization dedicated to enriching the Baylor community through student programs in the SUB. These programs include Acoustic Café, Dr Pepper Hour, Karaoke Nights, and Movie Nights, to name a few. These programs let students showcase their talents in a fun and relaxing environment.
“This is the first year that Union Board has existed,” said Laura Beth Hooper, a Union Board member. “We organize events to really help students show off their niche talents that they don’t necessarily get to show every day.”
The performances in January varied greatly. Some poems were long and some were short, while some were serious and others were funny. One performer used improvisation and audience interaction almost entirely. But they all shared something in common – they all had personal, moving stories that they wanted to share with the world.
“All of the performers were very heartfelt,” said Evan Combs, a senior in attendance. “Everyone seemed to be very passionate about what they were saying. They talked about their personal problems and experiences, and you could tell that it really came from their hearts.”
To enhance January’s French theme, the Union Board set up a hand-drawn Parisian skyline as a backdrop, miniature Eiffel Towers on the “cafe” tables, and twinkling lights around the stage. The audience sat at tables or on couches, which created an intimate setting for the event.
“They made it look really cool,” Combs said. “They transformed that room in the SUB to look like an underground poetry club. You could almost forget that you were right in the middle of Baylor campus.” The Union Board also provided tea, coffee, and cookies for audience members to enjoy during the show.
To promote the event, the group posts flyers around campus and uses social media to get performers for the shows. “We have a theme for each Acoustic Café, so we send out [flyers] through Facebook and Twitter, asking for people to submit their talents,” Hooper said. “We screen the performers to make sure what they’re doing is appropriate, but other than that, we welcome just about anyone.”
But because the organization is still new, it can be hard for them to get their name out. “I’d never heard of Acoustic Café before tonight,” Combs said. “I’d never even been to a poetry reading, since it’s not really my thing. It was a new experience, but it was much better than I expected it to be. It actually surprised me. I’d definitely suggest it to others.”
The next Acoustic Café will be on March 27 at 8 p.m., and the theme will be “Battle of the Bands.” The Union Board hopes that word will start to get out, and more students will try out to perform.
“We try to put a focus on the performers, but in the end, it’s not what this is really about,” Hooper said. “It’s about finding ways to create community at Baylor and ways to bring people together to have shared experiences. We want students to take a break from school and just have fun.”