Those of you who know me even a little bit know that my idea of a hellish night out would consist of karaoke somewhere in the mix. I’ve never been a fan. My roommate in college used to have a karaoke machine, and that devilish noise box was always the bane of my existence, lingering in the corner, taunting me. I know I can’t sing, so I don’t need the constant reminder of my shortcomings. I know people love it, but I’ve never quite understood the appeal of listening to people who can’t sing or else sing so well they want to showboat it in a bar. There’s rarely a person in the middle of those extremes.
In a twist of fate, I agreed to go to karaoke night at a bar called Nacho Borracho (any place with a hint that it might have a good margarita I have to at least give a chance). I went with three people I knew and was promised that I did not have to sing. I told them I’d only walk through the front door if I could sip on a margarita, be the cheerleader from the sidelines, and bail early without being offensive to anyone. After all, I gave it about four songs before I’d be finished with my drink and be on my way home.
It was a tiny place with red lights seeping from the ceiling, and it seemed chilled out enough. I was hesitant when we took the table next to the karaoke machine because I’m more of a “back of the class” kind of girl, whether it’s school, yoga, book readings, etc. I’d rather hold down the back and be able to watch everyone else. Plus the idea of everyone staring at me makes me want to spill my cookies. The further in the back, the better.
One of my companions started the night out. He let the DJ pick the song, so I figured when Kelly Clarkson’s “Miss Independent” came blaring through the speakers he would be disappointed. Instead I watched someone who I thought of as being a pretty passive guy own his best Kelly Clarkson. My jaw about hit the floor. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.
He was followed by several others, and then a short man went on and belted out Stevie Wonder. He clearly fell in the showboating, I’m-gonna-make-whoever’s-next-hate-their-life, category. I was informed that he was in a gay men’s choir here in Seattle, so was clearly at an advantage over all of us. I wondered how you follow that. But apparently I was the only one thinking that, as there was a general sense of camaraderie amongst the people in the now packed bar.
I was asked if I would perform “Bohemian Rhapsody” if my entire group of four got up. Maybe it was my liquid courage (which will never in my life be enough for me to get up and sing solo), maybe it was my love of Queen, or maybe it was my childhood memories of watching the Wayne’s World rendition a million times, but I agreed to perform my first karaoke song ever.
The man from the choir stood up again and sang “Poor Unfortunate Souls” with a killer evil Ursula voice which left me wondering if there were anything he couldn’t do and if he should be my newest friend. His table was filled with other men from the choir, and I knew not only could we follow that act, but we were going to bring the house down. And not because we were any good, but because who doesn’t know every word to “Bohemian Rhapsody?”
We stood up to sing. People started to get excited and pay attention. I started to point to tables, starting with my wanna be best friend’s table with his choir friends, who instantly got into the song and started belting it out. As the song progressed, it didn’t take much to involve the entire bar, many of them arm in arm, swaying to the music, asking “Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?”
Needless to say, we absolutely killed it. And I got away with no one hearing my atrocious singing voice, and it quickly became an entire bar sing along. I thought it felt nice to be a karaoke star, but I can’t think of a way to top that performance, so I am officially retiring from this business. I stayed for a few more songs, and like any other top-notch champion, finished my drink and said my goodbyes before the night went downhill.