Monday, April 2, 2007

Arts: Can't Sing or Just Too Drunk? Who Cares?

A look at the Karaoke Scene in the Tri-State Area

By Julia David


Karaoke translates literally as “empty orchestra” in Japanese. But the New York bars and lounges that specialize in this imported Japanese pastime are far from empty. Here's a breakdown of some hot "empty orchestra" spots:

Muse Karaoke, 154 W. 26th St.
The bright yellow and green corridors are bewitching, and the patrons are just as colorful. Cheerful, drunk bellowings of men and women in shiny plastic wigs singing "Xanadu" can be heard emanating from behind closed doors of the private rooms. Friday and Saturday nights are busiest at Muse, and as hours get wee-er, the body count grows. The front bar is small, though well stocked, and a larger bar is located in the back lounge that can be booked in advance for large private parties. The smaller private rooms are available first come first serve and offer an impressive repertoire of songs, available in thirteen different languages, including English, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Portuguese, and German.

Karaoke One 7, 29 W. 17th St.
If you enjoy a more communal karaoke experience, here is an after work bar teeming with 21-35 year old yuppies. The arcade game, mosaic wall, and two large flat screens in the main bar give the place a pleasant modernity. Ardent regulars are quite sagacious when it comes to proper song-picking etiquette: 80’s and 90’s classics like “Wonderwall,” “Lost That Lovin’ Feeling," and “Livin’ on a Prayer” are most popular.

Mark, a regular with a strong voice and boundless energy, picks “the kind of songs you sing when you’re cruising down the highway or in the shower.”

Though the only private room visible from the bar is the vast party room, there are in fact nine smaller private rooms one could rent out for $6 per person per hour Monday through Wednesday and from $24 to $64 per room Thursday through Sunday.

Sing Sing Karaoke, 81 Ave A and 9 St. Mark’s Pl.
The atmosphere at every karaoke lounge is the same: infectious and vibrant. But at this spot neon lights and down to earth employees provide a modern yet modest ambiance. It is a good place to crash in the early morning hours, where cheap drinks and a variety of songs are offered.

Bahama Mamas, 215 Washington St. in Hoboken, NJ
For those who enjoy nights out on the other side of the Hudson, here is an ideal place for karaoke every Thursday. This Tiki lounge provides a list of every song imaginable and a brilliant, all night long happy hour offer. If you are a shy singer, you need not worry, for everyone holding a Tiki Mai Tai, Pina Colada, or Key Lime ‘Tini will be singing along with you.

This fun pastime "brings people, who do or don't know each other, together," one zealous singer said. "Even if it's only for a few hours.”

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