The tradition of “open mic” nights and venues have long suffered an unfair stigma of artist hacks and free-thinking posers–not far off from the wincing feeling of going to check out your best friend’s roommate’s band. But in a city as big and full of creative dreamers as Los Angeles, the stigma couldn’t be further off the mark. Below is a list of the crème de la crème in LA’s blindingly beautiful open mic scene. Prepare to meet our finest unknowns.

Photo Credit: Tuesday Night Café Project via Facebook

Tuesday Night Café Project
20 Judge John Aiso St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Since the late 1990s, this open mic hot spot has drawn Angel City’s most talented performers and artists on the first and third Tuesday of every month. Held under the stars at the Aratani Courtyard in front of an old church in the heart of Little Tokyo, the crowd is a welcoming group and the “staff,” many of whom are volunteers, are passionate about the arts. There are live sketch comedy troupes and performance artists, musicians, standups and even short film screenings. The nights are a hard bargain to beat with no cover and no drink minimum –  the only cost is parking, which is $5 at the lot across the street. Performances start at 7:30 p.m. nightly, so if you’re looking to perform, get there by 7. Insider tip: Bring a jacket! It gets chilly.

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Dante’s Poetry Lounge
Greenway Court Theater
544 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 655-7679

Despite the name, there is no need to “abandon all hope, ye who enter here” at Dante’s Poetry Lounge. In fact, you should definitely be prepared to find yourself inspired. While most of the artists are strictly spoken word poets, a few will express themselves in song and all of the artists will invigorate the perspective and creative juices of their diverse audience. The lounge is held every Tuesday in two parts. The first half begins at 9 p.m. and the second at 10:30 p.m. The night ends at midnight, and the first half of the evening tends to be the best. Word to the wise: if you want a good seat (they let patrons sit on the stage, which is less than comfortable), or to get in for the first half, be in line by 8 p.m., 8:30 p.m. at the latest.  Free parking is available at Fairfax High School right next door, but expect a $5 cover at the door.

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Bliss Art House Café
1249 Vine St
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 962-2986

During the day, Bliss Art House is home to AA meetings, both scheduled and impromptu. But after 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, the café, a local artist mecca since 2000, transforms itself into a comedy and musical open-mic showcase for three hours. Impressively, the joint attracts the kind of still-unknown talent that actually rivals the best headliners at such established venues as the Improv or the Roxy. Free parking can be found nearby, a well as ample street parking and there is no cover and no minimum, although purchases are gratefully accepted.

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Tribal Café
1651 W Temple St
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 483-4458

With an endless organic eats menu and drinks that will rock your world in ways you never thought possible, Tribal Café needs no help in bringing bodies in to fill their seats. A constantly rotating arsenal of the city’s best local amateur talent graces the spotlight on the third Thursday and last Tuesday of every month. The nights are free and there is no order minimum, unless you are paying with a credit card – when it becomes $9. Street parking is available for free and at minimal meter charges throughout the neighborhood.

Photo Credit: Left Coast Wine Bar & Gallery via Facebook

Left Coast Wine Bar & Gallery
117 E Harvard St
Glendale, CA 91209
(818) 507-7011

Glendale’s best kept secret is secret no more. Bill is always the night’s MC and is well loved by the artists and regulars in the crowd. There is an actual attached art gallery showcasing some astounding works of art by local artists and the food is varied and to die for. The best part? Anything goes! Open mics are every Sunday at 8 p.m. Space is limited and the room hosting the event has a capacity of about 30- 50 people, so get there early if you are in a crowd or wish to perform.

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Kristen Lowman spends her days writing and her nights at concerts. She lives on the Miracle Mile in the City of Angels. Her work can be found at