Claps, laughs and yes, snaps.

Penn’s first Speakeasy of 2012 started off with a full house and wacky raffle prizes like a black porcelain unicorn and “the soundtrack to Friends on a real CD.”

Speakeasy is Penn’s “long standing open-mic night,” Al Filreis, the faculty director at the Kelly Writers House said.

This particular Speakeasy’s hosts were College sophomore Isa Oliveres and College freshman Rosa Escandon. Oliveres signed up for the job because she “was excited to take on the challenge of the Speakeasy.”

Though the regular event is called “Speakeasy,” Oliveres said, “We welcome any form of creative expression — it’s not only about writing.”

“It’s really grassroots here … when we say anything goes, anything goes,” Escandon added.

The event itself is centered around the audience, with the length of the event varying from Speakeasy to Speakeasy.

“This can go on as long as the people want it to go on,” the hosts explained as more members of the audience filed in and more performers signed up.

The performances themselves varied from poetry to puppetry, from song to satire.

College freshman Alex Ortega read for her first time at the Speakeasy, explaining that this was her trial run before her audition for The Excelano Project, Penn’s spoken word group. “Everyone’s very open, and it seems like if anyone wanted to read they could,” she said. “You don’t feel threatened at Speakeasy.”

With a packed room and more people outside, Speakeasy attendees had come from all over Philadelphia.

“The audience is around two-thirds people from Penn and one-third people from Philadelphia,” Escandon said.

Oliveres added, “The Kelly Writers House is not only a hub of writing at Penn but also the Philadelphia community as a whole.”

Ortega added that she was still feeling her way around the Kelly Writers House but that she hopes “to learn more about it in the future.”

After coming to her first Speakeasy through a writing workshop, Autumn Walden — an employee at the School of Social Policy & Practice — made it a New Year’s resolution to attend more.

“I’m writing more now,” she said. “[And I thought,] why am I not coming to the Kelly Writers [House]?”

Renee Campbell, who works at the department of Classical Studies and Religious Studies, said she comes to hear other people’s ideas. “It’s a chance to be around creativity.”

And, Oliveres explained, “everyone is always invited.”

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