The Lion’s Den Coffee-House at St. Mark’s Invites You To Come “Roar”
coffee-house n. & v. (a) n. a place where coffee and other refreshments are provided, esp. one used in the 17th and 18th cents. as a centre for political and literary conversation, circulation of news, etc.
– The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
The monthly Lion’s Den Coffee House at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church provides an open microphone and a relaxed, welcoming space for artistic and cultural expression. Teaneck area residents and neighbors are invited to offer acoustic or moderately amplified music (secular or sacred), poetry, comedy, dance, and other performance art in the church’s Carroll Hall.
Originally launched in November 2001, the “Den” took shape after parish members organized an evening of shared artistic response to the awful events of September 11. The positive, life-affirming spirit on display that night inspired parishioners and friends to create a more permanent space for cultural expression and make it a resource for the entire community.
The Coffee House is usually held on the last Saturday evening each month starting promptly at 7:00 p.m. and runs for about three hours. Individuals and groups who wish to participate may sign up that evening. Coffee and other refreshments are provided by the organizing committee, and all are welcome to attend.
See our Frequently Asked Questions section for answers to some common questions about the Lion’s Den
The next Lion’s Den will take place on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at 7:00 pm. For more information, call 201-928-0070 or sign up to receive announcements of upcoming Den events by joining our electronic mailing list. You can also keep in touch by signing up as a friend or becoming a “fan” of our Facebook page. And have a look at some recent performances by checking out our YouTube page.
- 1. Is the Lion’s Den a “Christian” coffee-house?
- 2. How big an audience do you get?
- 3. How do you promote/advertise the Lion’s Den?
- 4. How early do I have to get there to sign up?
- 5. What kind of equipment do you provide? Should I bring my own equipment?
- 6. How much time do I get?
- 7. What kind of material can I offer?
- 8. Do you pay performers?
- 9. Can I sell my CDs or pass out my business cards?
- 10. If I contact you in advance, will you promote my appearance as a “featured” performer?
- 11. How can I support the Lion’s Den?
1. Is the Lion’s Den a “Christian” coffee-house?
The short answer is “no,” but please let us explain. There is a sign you’ll find near the entrance of St. Mark’s that reads “This church is open to people of all faiths or none,” and this is also the basic principle of the Lion’s Den. The program is hosted by the church and staffed in part by church members; as such, we regard it as an outreach ministry to the community … BUT the open mic is a free space for artistic expression of all kinds. We do not require that participants offer sacred material (the majority of participants offer secular material). We do take our commitment to FREE expression seriously while at the same time having plenty of fun.
2. How big an audience do you get?
Our number one question! As an open public event, the Lion’s Den has drawn audiences that vary greatly in size. In 2012/2013 audiences size ranged from about a dozen people to about 70 or 80 people. Our audiences tend to be larger between September and May and smaller in the summer. We have no way to know in advance how many people will attend on a given night.
3. How do you promote/advertise the Lion’s Den?
The Lion’s Den has no budget for advertising, so we depend on a variety of low-cost methods for promotion. These include notices in the local newspapers (Teaneck Suburbanite, Bergen Record), listings on great web sites like Open Mic New Jersey, openmikes.org, and BadSlava.com, plus listings on craigslist, a bunch of electronic mailing lists, including OUR OWN (so join it already!). In addition to this, there is the classic word-of-mouth (which should NEVER be underestimated!), and we’re also gearing up for some local leafletting. Check here soon for a link to promotional leaflets if you want to help out. We’re interested in any other ideas you may have for low- (or no-)cost advertising and promotion, so please drop us a line if you can help!
4. How early do I have to get there to sign up?
On most nights, the Lion’s Den goes for about three hours (7:00 pm – 10:00 pm). We’re happy to go a little longer if the number of performers warrants it, but we like to have a good idea of how many performers we have on hand by about the normal halfway point. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to arrive and sign up no later than 8:00 pm if you want to perform. We will make allowances for those who get lost, have car trouble, etc.
5. What kind of equipment do you provide? Should I bring my own equipment?
The Lion’s Den organizing committee functions as a house band of sorts, and we are happy to provide the following equipment:
- Professional Quality PA System
- Three microphones (sometimes more)
- An acoustic spinet piano (and often an electric keyboard)
- Various guitar/bass amplifiers and pedals (OR a soundboard with inputs for these instruments)
- A drum kit
- Various music stands (can also hold poems, scripts, notes, etc.)
- Various electric guitar cables
- A harmonica holder
While we understand performers often prefer to use their own equipment, we respectfully request that you make use of our gear and please NOT bring any of the following: drum kits, keyboards, or amplifiers. This kind of equipment usually requires time-consuming setups and break-downs, and we would prefer to spend the time on performances so as to give everyone a chance within a reasonable time-frame. PLEASE CALL AHEAD (201-928-0070) with any specific questions about this policy or if you have any special equipment needs with which we can assist.
6. How much time do I get?
Some performers travel a great distance to play at the Lion’s Den, and we want to give everyone who comes to perform a reasonable amount of time to do what they do. The total amount of time we can offer you is subject to the total number of people who come to perform, but in general we place an initial limit of 12-15 minutes on all performers. This should be enough time to offer three songs (or one longer jazz improvisation), a stand-up comedy routine, one or two dances, the reading of several poems (or a mini-epic), a short dramatic performance, or something else. On many nights our schedule allows for performers to come up more than once, so you may have the opportunity to perform for a total of 20-30 minutes on a given night, in two sets. Again, this is subject to the total number of people who come to perform.
7. What kind of material can I offer?
The Lion’s Den is held in a medium-sized parish hall with a carpet and a high ceiling. Not much amplification is needed for sound to carry well throughout the room. For musicians, we generally prefer acoustic or moderately amplified music. The venue is not suitable for heavy metal bands, so please leave your Marshall stacks at home…practice-size amps are more than sufficient for most purposes. When drums and acoustic piano are used in band settings, we expect other musicians to be amplified to balance out the volume generated by instruments that don’t come with volume knobs, but please keep the characteristics of the venue in mind. We regret that we cannot accommodate those who require very loud volume settings for their performances.
The Lion’s Den draws a very diverse community audience which often includes children, and we ask that all performers adopt a common-sense approach when considering the content of the material they offer. We’re not in the business of censorship…in general, our expectation is that most performers prefer applause and/or laughs to uncomfortable silence in response to what they offer.
8. Do you pay performers?
Unfortunately, the Lion’s Den is unable to offer payment for performances. We run a free community open mic for the purpose of giving amateur area performers a space to share their talent. We collect no money and have no budget with which to pay performers.
9. Can I sell my CDs or pass out my business cards?
Although the Lion’s Den is not a commercial venture, we are happy to have you bring CDs to sell or to offer your services through informal networking. You can make a brief announcement about CDs or paid services during your performance time.
10. If I contact you in advance, will you promote my appearance as a “featured” performer?
The Lion’s Den is run on the basis of an egalitarian ethos, where every performer is extended the same courtesies and no performer is given “headliner” billing. All are welcome to sign up and share their talents, but we are unable to offer “featured” billing to anyone in our promotional work.
11. How can I support the Lion’s Den?
Glad you asked! The Lion’s Den organizing committee is always happy to welcome new members. We can use your help! We would be especially grateful for help with the following:
- Supplying refreshments
- Promotion: writing press releases, designing and distributing flyers, finding new and creative ways to get the word out
- Setup and breakdown on performance nights (including kitchen help)
If you can help out with any of these things, please drop us a line – and thanks!