I get to the bar early because I don’t like to drive to a new place in the dark if I can help it. Kaptin the bartender wears a navy baseball cap backwards, his name embroidered on it in the same color so it’s only visible at certain angles in certain light in the dark bar. He has a soothing voice and a trusting soul. This is demonstrated when he leaves the bar and disappears behind a door, leaving me in the bar completely by myself. The few others in here went outside to smoke, leaving behind a phone and tablet. I guess it’s that sort of place. It’s strange to be completely by myself in a bar I don’t know at all, in a state I don’t know at all.
Kaptin comes back with a handful of limes. The smokers come back inside as well, this time with the KJ in tow and he begins to set up. The four of them talk about how to bring more patrons into the bar before karaoke starts – they talk about game nights, getting the pool tables back into commission (the room where they are is being redone), and starting Guitar Hero nights. It made me think that Kaptin was the owner, or at least a manager, but as I talk with him I no longer think that’s the case. I think he just really likes being here and cares enough to have the place do well. He’s been coming to the bar for over 20 years, but working there for just over 3, “I love music and karaoke fits the bill. It’s better than putting money in a jukebox.” I feel like I’m a guest, sitting at his kitchen counter as he slices limes to get ready for a house party.
Soon after, others begin to filter in and the singing starts. Kaptin hugs or fist bumps most of them. The party is about to begin. Like most gatherings, it starts out slow until those who prefer to be fashionably late arrive. People sing Weird Al Yankovic, misogynistic rap songs, Nora Jones, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. One of the original smokers turns on the disco lights and cranks up the bass so that the whole bar shakes with the music. Kaptin sings Chemical Romance when it’s his turn. With the party in full swing, I slip off my stool and out the door. Part of me feels guilty that I didn’t say goodbye to the host.
- Location: Survivors, Lexington, KY
- Miles traveled: 221
- Songs sung: Mr. Brightside (The Killers), Dreaming (Blondie)