David Mercer

Lounge Lizards give seniors a shot at the open mic


Lounge Lizards has grown to include about 30 regular performers and dozens of audience members

Drelene Gibb knows just how important it is to push past comfort zones, especially for aging seniors.

Gibb, 65, is an empty nester and widow, but that hasn’t stopped her love of the ukulele or her passion for performance. The Oak Bay resident hopes to inspire others to activate their abilities, so she created Lounge Lizards, an afternoon open-mic group at the Monterey Recreation Centre tailored for talented adults.

“This has really become a venue for people to dust off their gifts and talents that they haven’t been using for perhaps years,” says Gibb, who started the weekly event last March. “I realized there were a lot of individuals out there who did not have a place to express and develop themselves creatively, and you need that to stay energized.”

Since the kick-off, Lounge Lizards has grown to include about 30 regular performers and dozens of audience members who make a trip to the centre to see the day’s performances. Shows have included piano and accordion solos, guitar and harmonica gigs, duos, trios, vocalists, even harpsichordists.

While better-known locals like David Mercer have found a warm home among the performers, Gibb is quick to point out the venue is not about making anyone famous, or overshadowing the competition – it’s about finding support. And participants do; every performer earns a Lounge Lizards button on their third show.

Gibb herself will keep up her own performing with her ukulele group which, she says, like the open mic, is a casual way to have some fun.

“When you can express yourself – that’s what keeps you alive and vibrant,” she says. “And having the support to encourage our talents.”

Everyone is welcome to attend free  local entertainment at Lounge Lizards, the stand up mic show for Seniors at Oak Bay’s Monterey Centre Lounge and snack bar.

Shows go every Sunday afternoon from 1:30 to 3:45 p.m. Performers can arrive at 12:45 to practice and set up. The centre provides an amp, three microphones, CD player and grand piano.

All are welcome to perform and attend for free. Performers sign up at the registration desk and those who are not members of the Monterey Centre can perform three times for free.