8 Open Mic Nights For Music, Poetry and Laughs

Belt it out, crack 'em up, speak your mind and bring your applause to these local nightspots.
Te Music

Arlington coffeehouse and co-work space Three Whistles hosts a twice-monthly open mic. (Photo courtesy of Three Whistles)

Whether you’re on the path to stardom or just like to chill with live tunes or the power of the spoken word, open mic nights are a great way to make memories. In these parts, you can find several spaces to practice your latest lyrics, your mastery of iambic pentameter, or your stand-up set. Here’s a sampling of stages to throw into your GPS.


Busboys and Poets

8-10 p.m.

If you’ve got a penchant for poetry, this weekly open mic is one worth hitting up. A rotating series of talented spoken-word artists—including the City of Alexandria’s first Black poet laureate, KaNikki Jakarta, and poet/musician 13 of Nazareth—host each evening. Want to play a tune? Musicians are also welcome. Seating is first-come, first-serve, and getting there early is a good idea, as the popular gatherings tend to bring in a “packed house.” // 4251 S. Campbell Ave., Arlington (Shirlington). $5 online/$8 at the door


Ballston Local

9 p.m.

In addition to trivia nights and happy hours, Ballston Local is known for its open mic sessions. The festivities begin with Singo (aka music bingo) at 7 p.m. and then shift to an open mic format at 9 p.m., welcoming area musicians, comedians and poets. Local musician Tom Hyland hosts, with open mic veteran Alex Parez guest hosting.  Got a band?  Head on over. The restaurant has both space and a sound system that can accommodate larger groups. // 900 N. Glebe Road, Arlington (Ballston)


7-11 p.m.

This legendary home for blues, country, rockabilly and other genres has been going strong for more than 75 years. Add your name to the roster of performers on Tuesday nights, when hosts include guitarist Josh Allen. Can’t make it on Tuesdays? The venue also hosts open mics on Wednesdays at 8 p.m., hosted by guitarists Bob Hume and Martha Capone. // 6666 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church

The Renegade

7:30 p.m.

Grab your instrument or do some vocal warmups and make your way over to this Clarendon hot spot to enjoy local cover bands, salsa lessons and football-viewing parties. The music venue and restaurant hosts a variety of musicians each week, and the menu features snacks such as latke tots, not to mention a cocktail called The AC/DC. Follow their Instagram page to stay up-to-date on all the open-mic deets. // 3100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington (Clarendon)

Settle Down Easy Brewing Co.

6-9 p.m.

Order a house draft and pull out your axe (i.e. guitar—axe-throwing is so 2019) at this Falls Church microbrewery. Musicians should come prepared to perform two songs, with a reward of 50% off their first beer. Tex-Mex tacos for $2  are also on tap, courtesy of El Tio Tex-Mex Grill. When the weather isn’t frigid, Settle Down Easy takes the show outside under a spacious tent. // 2822 Fallfax Drive, Falls Church

Image 6483441 2

Comedians Danny Fernandez (pictured) and Joey Coon are co-founders of Dead Horse Comedy, which hosts an open mic each week at Crystal City Sports Pub. (Photo courtesy of Dead Horse Comedy)


Crystal City Sports Pub

8-10 p.m.

Think you’re funny? Find out at this stand-up showcase hosted by Dead Horse Comedy. Each week, the show draws in some two dozen comedians, including a mix of pros and amateurs. Sign up in advance, and get there early. Happy hour specials last until 6:30 p.m. // 529 23rd St. S., second floor, Arlington (National Landing)


Rhodeside Grill

7 p.m.-midnight, Once Monthly

Once a month, join host Alex Parez for a night of live, local tunes. Signups start at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 with a set from Parez. Take advantage of the tail end of happy hour, which ends at 7 p.m., and keep an eye on the restaurant’s website, as the selected Thursday occurs at different points in the month. // 1836 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (between Courthouse and Rosslyn)

Img 0834

You don’t have to take the stage to enjoy an open mic night; enthusiastic audience members are also welcome. (Photo courtesy of Three Whistles)


Three Whistles

8-10 p.m. (first and third Saturday of the month)

Coffeehouse and co-work space Three Whistles has a robust arts component, including live music, art shows and dance lessons. Pop by twice a month for their open mic night, and kick back with a cup of local brews from La Coop Coffee Co. or Cervantes Coffee. Note: In May, the performances will shift to the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. // 2719 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Clarendon)

This story has been updated to clarify details about the open mic at Rhodeside Grill.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment