It was a Saturday night the first time I walked into the cozy indie cafe nestled deep in Minn Lane, San Chaung. The cafe was overflowing with young artists, souls thirsting for inspiration and maybe a cold beer on the side. A poet was spilling her words into a mic hooked up to a small amplifier in the corner as the crowd fell to the spell of her words. It was obvious that the Rough Cut was truly a hidden sanctuary for those nightly souls that linger too deeply in their thoughts. And this was one of those rare nights on which they converged to share their creations and enjoy the company of like souls under the deep red neon light. Insatiable chatter of people filled the room between performances. This is a rare sight in Yangon, even in 2016 where social media has made connectivity so accessible, strong coalitions and bonds between artists are best conceived in places like this. Places like this are hard to find, and even harder to cultivate in Yangon, a city which is so used to consuming all its youth creatives.
The Rough Cut was established in 2015 when its founders, Ko Myo Oung and Ben White, were inspired to create a space focused on promoting creativity and the arts in Yangon. With that goal in mind, The Rough Cut started with photo exhibitions and simple showings which have now grown to be a breeding ground for young artists. As a space for artistic collaboration, 19 Minn Lane has made a name for itself as a pioneer in this emergence of young poets, singers, musicians, filmmakers and art aficionados in Yangon. Hosting various events for artists free of charge, there have been open mics, acoustic nights, movie nights as well as booking openings that have helped build the art community of Yangon.
A year after opening its doors, The Rough Cut is still going strong with its exposed brick walls and semi-hipster appearance. It is still a middle ground, a refuge for those who are looking to escape the rain, maybe find shade from the sun and step into another landscape cloaked within the hustle of the San Chaung streets.
Photo Credits to The Rough Cut Facebook Page