By Constance Osuchowski
Have you ever walked past a poster advertising the Oakham Café open mic and thought about getting up on that stage? Even if you haven’t, an open mic can be the gateway to success. Céline Dion was discovered when she was a lounge singer, after all.
Our story begins on a busy Thursday evening, around 7 p.m. at Oakham Café. The open mic is about to begin—the perfect breeding ground for any classic story of stardom and discovery. I, myself, am sitting on a leather couch next to several other people who appeared to have come alone, all dressed like they come from entirely different walks of life. Work uniforms, scrubs, pyjamas, crop tops, cocktail dresses—as if they had wistfully wandered in on their way to a Sims 3 lounge.
The MC introduces the first act—a man named Ziggy playing the saxophone. I perk up immediately. I’m not saying that the sax is inherently sexy, but I will say that every time I see someone play the sax, I immediately picture myself washing their hair in a candle-lit bath.
Ziggy had an indescribable air of mystery about him. When he got on stage, the café fell silent. Ziggy wore large pink cat-eye sunglasses, a floor-length leather jacket, knee-high boots and an acid-wash denim crop top. Their shoulder-length hair was slicked down. I remember thinking to myself, ‘oh, a look.’ Ziggy lifted the sax to their mouth and launched into the iconic ballad, George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.”
To say that the crowd went wild was an understatement. They erupted. It was utter chaos. Everyone leapt to their feet, screaming in unison.
We started dancing and then simply didn’t stop. Food and drinks were flying, people were openly weeping. And Ziggy? Ziggy just kept on playing. It was thanks to those like Awa Edmonds, third-year photography student, who live-tweeted the happenings, that I actually have a clear record of what happened.
Even though I was present, I can’t be entirely sure what was real and what was a sax-induced hallucination.
One of Edmonds’ tweets contained a now-viral video of people dancing in the café. Everyone was sweaty, and some were streaked with what could be red wine, blood or both. At least a few were crying. And in the background, their glasses glimmering in the dim light was Ziggy. The caption reads “ABSOLUTE FIRE” with a timestamp of 12:30 am, nearly five hours after Ziggy began playing.
The open mic that was intended to last only three hours, extended well into the night and ended only as the sun began to rise.
One veteran open mic attendee Justin Lee praised Ziggy’s extraordinary performance. “I’ve never seen anything like it! Most of the time at open mics I just use the performances as background music, so if I’m on a date I feel less pressured to fill the long awkward silences. But this was different….now that it’s over, there’s this great gaping hole inside of me. I have to hear them play again.”
The video went viral particularly within the open mic community—the people love Ziggy. This video has resulted in a cult TikTok following, as well as a supposed record deal. Lee, now one of Ziggy’s biggest fans, said Ziggy was asked to play the national anthem at the next Raptors home game.
When The Eye reached out to Ziggy for an interview, they tipped their cat-eye sunglasses and gazed into our interviewer’s eyes unblinkingly.
“It’s just great to be able to play my music, and have people really respond to it,” he said. “I’m so thankful to the Oakham Café open mic for providing me with this opportunity, can’t wait to share the album I’ve been working on. Ryerson, let’s get Ziggy with it.”