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A French Accent at the Balaclava Open Mic in Melbourne

March 13, 2015

Balaclava open mic

Balaclava open mic

MELBOURNE – A balaclava may have negative undertones these days, what with the predilection of terrorists to wear these ski masks while taking part in cleansing operations, but Balaclava is also an area in Melbourne, Australia, and the Balaclava Hotel has been host for the last two and a half years to one of the best open mics I’ve ever visited in this Australian city.

Last night was the first time I attended this Balaclava Hotel open mic, and it was admittedly a busy night, with around 16 performers, but as the genial MC, Erik Parker, told me, next time I want to go I better contact him as early as possible to avoid being nearly last on the list. Still, it only runs until midnight, so being nearly last on the list is no big deal.

Last night it gave me the opportunity to see a number of the other amazing performers, including last but not at all least, Erik himself. What was really amusing, though, was that I struck up conversations with a Flemish Belgian who spoke little French, and a couple of French women on a work visit to Australia, and then after that I discovered a Quebecoise and her French-France boyfriend. So the accent on this very Australian open mic was very French last night, as the latter two persuaded me to sing a song in French, and I sang: “Et dans 150 ans,” by Raphaël. At the end of the evening, Erik then dove into his own rendition of a French song, “Je ne regrette rien,” of Edith Piaf – and it was sensational!

But most sensational of all is the atmosphere in this vast hotel pub with its bright lighting and sizeable stage for the open mic, at the front entrance to the pub. It is a vast, multi-roomed bar, but it still manages to maintain or create some kind of feeling of coziness and communication between spectators and musicians. And there was a broad cross-section of talents and styles, one of the biggest standouts of the night aside from Erik, being Corey Heuvel, a Canadian on a long visit to Australia.

Erik does a great job of organising it, very laid-back and smiling throughout the evening. And he even takes risks to do things he thinks are not possible, like the slot last night in which a full band of five musicians elected to take to the stage….

Really a fabulous evening, great vibe and a place I will definitely return to again next year, if I get back to Melbourne again….


  1. What a great article describing open mics in Melbourne. I for one will be letting friends know of this great venue.

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