September 18th, 2019 by Ryder McGinnis
I think you can count yourself lucky if you’ve moved away from home and found a new one. As I write this, I’m eating Mini Wheats and reflecting on the first Open Mic of 2019/20. It’s September in my fifth and final year at UBC and the start of my second as a member of the BVP Exec Team. The long, full summer has gone by too fast, and the first two weeks of school are full of the familiar and comfortable frantic energy that goes along with syllabi, a busy campus, and friends you haven’t seen since April. After the intensity of week one, UBC gave me its official “welcome home,” Wednesday night in the Gallery 2.0.
My third year at UBC, I was a shy but driven singer-guitarist from Edmonton with no idea where to start except for a club called Blank Vinyl Project that I’d stumbled across in first year. I had just left behind a 14-year career in athletics, a daunting step outside my comfort zone, and the Open Mic is the first place that I went to find my crowd. It was at the Open Mic where I had my third, fourth, fifth performances and beyond. This event became the place where I would go and make a new friend every time. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve played there now, and I’ve been an audience member at least as many, but I’m still meeting someone new every time I visit the Gal on a Wednesday night.
Fourth year; I joined the BVP exec team as leader of the Build-a-Band program, and I quickly realized that I had found a cause worth my weight in heart and soul. The other execs welcomed me into the fold without second thought or hesitation, and the passion that defined the team atmosphere made it easy to feel like I was part of something valuable and meaningful. This sense of belonging is what has made BVP my new home. As I continued to work and grow with this team of passionate individuals, they became a chosen family and my closest friends. Wednesdays at the Gal continued to be a time for me to forge new friendships, but it also became something that I would look forward to because it meant spending time with my favourite people.
Now, in my fifth year, I’m looking at the person that I have become. I’m more confident, bolder, and more myself than I have ever seen before. I’m still growing and I have so much more to learn, but I wouldn’t be where I am without the support and community that Blank Vinyl has given me. Because of BVP I’m in a band and we’re playing shows all over town. I’ve gone from barely having stood in front of a microphone to playing paid gigs. I’ve learned how to step outside of what’s comfortable and engage with people to form genuine and meaningful connections. Blank Vinyl Project has helped a shy young musician come out of his shell.
So, I’m looking back on Wednesday’s open mic, and how the nervous energy of back-to-school seemed to melt away in the warmth of acoustic guitar and the Gallery’s welcoming arms. I wonder what I’ll do when I move on from UBC and I don’t have Open Mics to look forward to every other Wednesday, but while I stood onstage and watched my friends dance and sing while I poured my heart into Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA,” I wasn’t worried; I was home.