What is Bean Night, an uninformed SB plebeian might ask. It’s only the hottest Open Mic night in Isla Vista going down every Monday night from 8:30 to 10:30 PM at 6714 Sabado Tarde, better known by its inhabitants as the Rainbow House. Be prepared for personal space invaders, dim lighting, plenty of Charles Shaw, and some groovy grooves as local Beanies rip, rap, riff, and rock it out.
You have a poem? Read it. You have a song? Bring it. You wonâ€™t find a more supportive or cooperative crowd. As each artist hits the stage, the room hushes; the only sounds are the flick of lighters and an occasional whisper. Here, anyone could be a poet or a musician. The definition of these artists is always evolving. And if you mess up, the crowd cheers you on to continue!
The Open Mic is set in the Rainbow House living room, which is decorated with lava lamps, prayer flags, and a looming Emerald Video Store sign. People are strewn over coaches and carpet, giving reverent attention to whoever is performing, or breaking into relaxed chatter in between performances. Announcements are informal and very entertaining. “Anyone who wants to help paint a fence, talk to Curtis!” or “Who wants to pick up trash off the beach and turn it into art?”
According to posters on the wall, “Cthulu loves Bean Night,” which shows how even eldritch abominations pick up the banjo and jam. Musical instruments are scattered amidst the crowd: tambourines, shakers, and bongos for spontaneous collaborations. And what if you don’t have an instrument to play? Beat out a rhythm on your lap!
“The people here keep feeding Bean Night. We provide the space and they fill in the gaps,” says Caitlin McNeely, the current hostess and MC of Bean Night. “After a while I stopped questioning if I was going or not. It became fact.”
Bean Night champion Samma Gibot agrees, “Bean Night showed me that there is a safe place in IV to express yourself. It inspired me to pick up a guitar again and play in front of other people.”
Bean Night was started by UCSB alum Danny Jolles, who felt that there was great potential for the Isla Vista music scene, what with the BIKO co-op shows and Music Festivals in Anisq’Oyo Park. The first Bean Night debuted in October 2008 at 999 Camino Corto.
“Originally Bean Night was low key, probably about 30 people max, mostly our friends,” recalls Danny Jolles. “Now Bean Night is so damn dynamic. People listen quietly or sing along, sometimes collaborating on the spot, doing something incredible that has never been heard before. It’s alive… it’s always NOW at Bean Night.”
This year Bean Night has re-launched at 6714 Sabado Tarde, with Caitlin McNeely as its natural heiress. So come duke it out with the muse! Bring a poem, bring a song, bring baked goods! This is a community that shares its heart. As Jolles puts it, “It is really just an idea, like a little bean planted in the ground. With enough water and sunlight, it will sprout through the soil and become alive.”