Why you need to check out Rooftop Rhythms

Abu Dhabi’s poetry night is a must-try experience

Poetry is in motion in Abu Dhabi – in fact, shout it from the rooftops – it is full-speed ahead. The capital’s longest-running poetry open mic night, Rooftop Rhythms, has been shining a spotlight on the city’s creative talents since 2012, and it has never felt more at home.

The regular event was set up by Dorian “Paul D” Rogers at Café Arabia and caused such an initial stir it expanded to new venues at the Hilton Capital Grand and the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr to meet growing demand before finding a perfect cultural base at the NYUAD Arts Center in 2016.

Rogers, who discovered his passion for poetry while at university in the US, says he saw an opportunity to further spread the word when he moved to the UAE.

“I was blown away by the immediate success,” he explains. We were getting 90 people attending from the start.

“We moved to hotels but had a lot of requests to move to a place that was more inclusive and that everyone could attend and feel comfortable at.

“We took a leap of faith coming to the Arts Center but there has been such major growth, it has sky-rocketed.

“It really feels like home for us. We now get around 230 people coming to each event. I never would have dreamed it.”

Rooftop Rhythm welcomes all ages, backgrounds and styles to take to the stage and perform in front of an appreciative audience.

From traditional performance poetry to hip-hop-influenced rhymes, everyone can find their voice at the sessions.
Rogers adds: “Everyone is encouraged to cheer, it is the coolest thing. It is all about celebrating people having the courage to get on stage.”

A wide variety of issues are verbalised during the individual three-to-five minute performances, covering everything from love to humanity itself.

The hugely popular poetry nights not only pack in a big crowd, but also see as many as 25 performers take to the stage during the two-hour shows, which are held on a monthly basis at its now permanent home.

The next big night at the Marketplace at the Saadiyat Island spot will be on Friday, February 23, when an open mic and a poetry slam (a space for lyrical masters to compete against each other) will take place.

A special sixth anniversary open mic night will be next on the agenda on Friday, March 30, before another successful season gets the last word with the grand slam finale on Friday, April 27.

All are welcome to come along and cheer on the poetic participants by applying for free tickets at www.nyuad-artscenter.org.

Budding poets can register their interest by sending a message to the Rooftop Rhythms group page on Facebook,

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