My friend and I arrived a bit early on purpose; the singing didn’t start until 10, but we wanted to make sure we didn’t lose momentum after dinner in her backyard. Sometimes the late-night-starts make me feel old. The street entrance to the bar told us to use the other entrance, so we headed to the well-lit back alley and went in. A few couples sat at the bar, and a gender-fluid pair occupied the dance floor, twerking and grinding. The bartender wore a t-shirt that read, “Tell me I’m pretty” (he was).
In the back of the bar there’s a machine with free popcorn; somehow the smell doesn’t dominate the bar in the way one bag of microwave popcorn will make a whole office salivate. Behind that, there’s a case of sex toys. An array of dildos of all different shapes and sizes – one brand offers a 5 ½-inch cock, a 7-inch cock, and an 8-inch dong. I guess I now know the difference between a cock and a dong: one crucial inch. There’s also a harness and a pair of leather cuffs.
A voice-over announced we were going to be treated to “The best karaoke in the Capitol District.” As the show gets underway, one woman makes a dramatic entrance by belting along with the song being sung to the point of dominating the performance. She covers her left ear to tune herself better. When it’s her turn, she sings a passionate version of Radiohead’s Creep, keeping her hand on that ear the entire time.
By 11, the list of singers scrolling on the bottom of the monitor grew. Craiggers, Barbie, Jamroc, Mystery, and LD all waited for their turns to sing on the stage with an elaborate light show and fog machine. After each performance, an applause track encouraged the crowd’s response.
Everyone brings it here to the fullest – good voices, good stage presence. One woman in particular was a delight to watch. She was tall and beautifully casual in a striped summer dress, black ballcap and Keds. She comes over to our table to steal a song slip and we chat. She says she comes here to “practice” – her goal is to be a songwriter, but doesn’t feel she has the talent to sing her own stuff. She’s wrong. Her energy, style, and vocal abilities were top-notch. I have no idea what she sung, but it was good. When it was my turn to sing, she cheered loudly in between sips of red wine. Then, after her second number, she went back to the bar, gulped down the rest of her glass, and waved goodbye, leaving out the front door.
- Location: Waterworks Pub, Albany, NY
- Miles traveled: 377
- Songs sung: Heart of Glass (Blondie), Like a Prayer (Madonna)