I chose Henderson over Vegas because I don’t want to deal with the large party city on a Saturday night – the cost, the crowds, the loneliness. I also don’t like the idea of being there with a car. Though casinos do have parking, driving down the strip is anything but enjoyable.

I stay in a casino on the outskirts of everything and everywhere. The receptionist tells me how he is looking to get the hell out of there and move to Eugene; he even has a realtor helping him live out his dream. I was going to gamble and grab a bite to eat before heading out, but the whole scene was too depressing. When you take away the lights and the glitz and the superlatives, the purpose of casinos is all that remains and it makes me uncomfortable.

I get to the bar in Henderson early, as I was hoping to watch some college football and grab a bite to eat before singing. Instead there’s NASCAR on the couple of TVs and there’s no food served (odd for a place that’s open 24/7). I only had a granola bar and piece of cheese for a late lunch, so there won’t be a lot of drinking tonight, which is just as well.  I order a pint of Rolling Rock; it’s flat and the taps haven’t been cleaned in months, if ever. It’s also one of the smokiest places I’ve been – everyone has either a cig in hand or is vaping. It’s clearly a place of locals and regulars, a place where friends meet to shoot pool or the breeze. A place where the bartender says hello as you walk in, and pours your favorite drink as you sit down in your favorite seat. I grab a seat at the bar, purposefully not directly in front of a video crack machine (though I do debate on blowing five bucks in one, I never get around to it); I hope it’s not someone else’s.

A group of three next to me is chatting with the bartender; one of them asks what “suburb” means, and the bartender replies “it’s a fancy rich town with lawns.” I suppose that’s as close to the truth as any. Then the KJ wanders in and lets everyone know he got a new special effects light bulb to make the show more fun and it literally takes four of them to figure out how to screw it in. Once that’s accomplished all the patrons come over for an awe-struck inspection of this new marvelous addition to the place.

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Pretty lights with questionable placement.

The bartender asked a customer what a Bloody Mary is, to which the patron replied, “Vodka and juice;” I guess the specifics aren’t important. Other things I overheard:

  • “I’m tired. I work five days a week and have a yeast infection.”
  • “I was in her pussy when she woke me up.”
  • “What happened to Chris?”
    “He died”
    “At least he didn’t owe me money anymore.”

Then I spoke to a man who truly believes that Paul is dead. He also wants to get out of Henderson and now dreams of singing karaoke across the US just as I have, but first he needs to fix up his motor home and finish suing his dentist for not replacing his teeth.

A woman named Froggy starts off the singing with a country tune. She’s wearing an iron-on t-shirt with a frog on it, and green stripes down the sides of the sleeves (think 70s), coupled with a quilted vest of playing cards. At her table, there’s a pile of crafting supplies so she can make paper flowers. By the end of my evening I have two. When I say goodbye to Froggy and thank her for the flowers, she hugs me and says to come back next week.

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My bouquet on the bar

The basics:

  • Location: The Rustic Lounge, Henderson, NV
  • Miles traveled: 234
  • Songs sung: Hold on Loosely (38 Special), Dreams (Fleetwood Mac)
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A home away from home.
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Solo (Singing Wyoming, #44)

I wear my jacket to go out to sing; it’s the first time I’ve needed it since I was in the Dakotas. I had looked up the laws in Rock Springs, WY, and it seemed as though smoking was illegal in bars, but one step inside, and I knew that wasn’t the case. Before getting there, I texted a friend to express fear of going out on my own again, of being harassed, of not being physically safe. I went anyway, but took note to honor those feelings should they have any evidence behind them.

I took a seat at the bar, where the owner, a female, was running the show; there were a fair number of people inside, but they were all shooting pool so I had the long bar to myself. I already felt better. Technically, this place calls itself a “nightclub,” with its black velour-backed bar stools and red velvety chairs on wheels by the tables. It’s clearly a pool hall first, though, with all four tables in use. It was too dark outside to get a good picture of the establishment; I should have taken one of the inside but didn’t want to stick out. This was clearly a place full of regulars.

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Nightclub in Rock Springs, WY

The karaoke set up here is strange – you can either stand on a huge stage (probably set up more for bands than hack singers) or face a monitor on the dance floor such that your back is to the rest of the bar. Neither seems like a good option since being on the stage would feel awkward to me, especially since no one was paying much attention, instead more focused on their pool games.

While others sing, the bartender and I talk about the hunting season (the reason why the place is relatively empty), cold weather, and the kitchen that’s opening up next week while I sip a gin and tonic. She asked me if I wanted one or two limes, and I opted for two to mask the well liquor taste. One of the aforementioned regulars was singing I Wanna Be Like You from the Jungle Book while simultaneously shooting pool; he ends up doing both ineffectively.

I sing my first song to a quiet audience – they are more concerned with practicing for the big tournament this weekend. When I get back to my seat and drink (bartender said she’d watch the drink, I took my purse up – gotta remember these new habits now that I’m on my own again), two women had taken up residence just next to me. One was making goo-goo noises and rubbing the belly of the other, who was just starting to show the signs of pregnancy. The pregnant lady laughed about being 50 when the kid would be born, then lit a cigarette and ordered a Sprite. A young man walks over and the conversation quickly jumps to a debate over oral sex; the young man claims he prefers dick because pussies smell like fish and look like cottage cheese. The older women let him know that if it does look like cottage cheese down there, then something is seriously wrong. He isn’t buying it. My company leaves for a bit, but their phones and keys remain on the bar. I guess this place is safe after all.

As the evening goes on, the KJ calls out the names of patrons and asks if they are ready to sing. Some ask for more time, and others wander over and choose a tune, interrupting their games. Everyone chooses a slow song. Not what I would have expected here – was thinking upbeat modern country, one of the first times I wasn’t able to peg the song style to the crowd. The guy who likes dick (who turns out to be the pregnant lady’s step son), takes a turn and sings Stand By Me – not bad, but nothing inspiring — unless you’re his step-mom: “He has a beautiful voice. He’s just not competent (sic instead of “confident;” I thought I misheard her at first, but she repeated the mistake often enough that I’m sure that’s what she said). Such a lovely tone; I wish he’d sing louder. Dammit all to hell shit.” Step-mom is clearly an avid supporter, and refers to his “beautiful tone” about twenty times during our conversations; I try to avoid the smoke she blows in my face.

After she’s heard both me and her step-son sing, it becomes her mission to figure out a duet for the us to perform. He says he can harmonize “real good,” but we can’t find a song we both know, even though he only sings oldies. I threw out a few ideas and so did step-mom from the earlier eras to no avail; he kept going to the modern stuff where I’m useless. One of his suggestions was Concrete Blonde by “Martin McBride” (instead of “Martina”), sounding out the words slowly off his phone. I gave up finding a song for us after a while, so no duet; step-mom was clearly disappointed, but he didn’t seem to care much.

Later, her husband came up and asked “Why does Wyoming have wind? Because Utah blows and Nebraska sucks.” He also referred to Wyoming as “God’s perfect square” then a “shit hole” soon after. The bartender asks him how his granddaughter is doing, as she’s in a cast after a mishap on the jungle gym. He would rather talk about how he dislocated his ankle several years ago and, after he had it in a cast for eight weeks, had to scrape the dead skin off his heel with a butter knife. His wife wailed Lita Ford in the background.

I said goodbye to the bartender, and tipped her a buck for the club soda she gave me on the house; I don’t say anything to the strange family next to me and they don’t seem to notice me leave. A police car pulled over some folks across the street and arrests were being made as I headed back to the hotel.

The next morning, my jacket still smells like smoke, but I put it on anyway. There’s a Starbucks across the street; I think about treating myself to a pumpkin latte and accept the fact that fall has come.

The basics:

  • Location: Killpepper’s Nightclub, Rock Springs, WY
  • Miles traveled: 476 ( I took the scenic route; see below for amazing evidence)
  • Songs sung: Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty), Faithfully (Journey)
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Wyoming is beautiful!
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See?

The in crowd (Singing New Mexico, #42)

We get to the venue and the parking lot is pretty damn full; there are people already signing up to sing – who knows how many before me, but I know enough to get in line as soon as I walk in the door. I stand behind a woman who can’t spell “Bayou” and therefore can’t find her song. The KJ and I help; then she signs in her girlfriend. Behind me is a man with a long braid ready to queue up his choice. Dave and I had gotten the last seats in front of the KJ and a few who trickle in afterwards sit behind her.

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The place may not look like much, but it’s hopping inside.

This is a place where it’s clear that regulars rule the roost. Names like Caveman, Disco Nanny, Ciro, Abe, Diva, Big Mike, and Cate Bell all scroll by. My name doesn’t appear. After the woman who stood in front of me and her girlfriend sing, I wander over and ask where I am in the list; I’m not only pretty far down, but my name is misspelled as “Krista;” given that the “I” and “A” are nowhere near each other on the keyboard, I doubt this is my typographical error; the KJ placed me further down the list, behind her regulars. I expressed naive confusion, using the misspelling as a reason to ask if my sign up was successful. When we figured out the name mix-up, the KJ gave an excuse of people getting ahead of me by signing up on their phones. Normally I’d buy that, but five singers – including the guy who signed up after me – between me and the couple at the kiosk — shows that she plays favorites. I keep quiet on the matter, because I’m going to eventually get a turn, and that’s the point of being here. As the names scroll by again, I see a “Kristine” but not a “Kristi” and get a bit anxious, but resist the urge to ask again about my place in line. I wait until Kristine is called, and yes, it is my turn. I let explained my confused look to her as I hesitantly approached the mic  was because she got my name wrong again. She said, “Take it out on the song.” I did.

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The drive through New Mexico was beautiful.

The basics:

  • Location: Fiesta’s Restaurant, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Miles Traveled: 762
  • Songs Sung: Jungle Love (The Steve Miller Band)

Note: I reread this and want to say that I wasn’t nearly as cranky as I sound in this post. The venue was pretty neat and the singers were quite good and very supportive. This just happened to be one of the few times that the KJ showed clear bias toward some over others. I’ve read about this happening in a lot of negative reviews of karaoke places, but always chalked it up to whining on the part of the patron. Now I see some complaints are probably legit. I’m not sure where I stand on playing favorites/treating regulars better than the random person who walks in; I can see both sides, but still think I fall in the camp of fairness to everyone.

Not a creature was stirring… (Singing Tennessee, #39)

It’s pretty darn smoky in the double-wide trailer that serves as a bar off the beaten path of Nashville. Cans and bottles of beer are the only drinking options, and the food menu is a few microwavable items scrawled on a piece of paper stapled to the wall. Cash only. Karaoke started an hour ago, but the only patron here is a trucker with a beautiful, deep voice singing country music ballads. It’s unclear how long he’s been there, but his presence seems natural as if he’s been there for a while. He sits next to the stringy KJ with long hair, and the two of them lean over the computer monitor, debating on what song to choose next. The trucker sings a couple more as we’re getting our beers and settling in, and asks if it’s OK to do one more before he has to hit the road again; he’s got 15 more minutes on his break and “singing is a good way to keep this trucker happy and sane.” Unlike him, we have all the time in the world, so he entertains us with some Waylon Jennings. Then the bartender sings something from a lesser-known country artist and the trucker asks him about the artist. They discuss him and other good country options to try in the future.

It’s clear the trucker isn’t in a hurry to hit the road again, and so he goes back to the stage and asks us if we knew Wildfire; two of us do. He lets us know somewhat apologetically that he’s never sung it before, and it shows a little, but he chose it because the song “makes me weep like a baby when I’m alone in my cab.” As I listen along, I realize the tune is also more unfamiliar to me as I would have thought.

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The lonely trailer

I decide I’m ready to sing, and the trucker sticks around to listen, then shakes our hands, and leaves. His hand is at least twice as big as mine, but his grip still gentle. The only ones left are the three of us and the people who work there. I mention to the KJ that he should sing more, but he said that last night was slow as well, and he had to sing a lot, so tonight he’ll be taking it easy. This leaves me and the bartender as the only ones singing. I put in another song, and follow up with another while I’m up there – songs that aren’t a usual part of my rotation. I fumble through parts of them out of unfamiliarity but it doesn’t matter at all. Slow nights lend themselves to slow songs and experimentation.

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Keeping up with the theme of the place.

An hour later and still no one else is here. A group of three women did come in while I was singing and exchanged words with the bartender – no idea what it was about, but Dave heard him say “That’ll be a thirty-five hundred dollar fine if you do that,” as they walked out the door.

I promised a friend I would sing Barry Manilow while I was on this trip, and tonight seemed like the only time I would actually live up to my word. I sat on the stool, and then apologized into the mic for what I was about to do. I sang, and laughed as both Dave and Steve filmed me for proof and probably later blackmailing purposes. A couple of others walked in during that song, of course. While it wasn’t pretty, it was good fun, and I always feel better when I follow through on what I say, no matter how small or silly. As we get up to leave a bit later, one of the patrons is standing out on the balcony. He waves goodbye and compliments my “bold song choice” for the evening without knowing the back story. I thought about explaining myself; instead I thanked him as we drove away.

The basics:

  • Location: Santa’s Pub, Nashville, TN
  • Miles traveled: 424
  • Songs sung: Desperado (The Eagles), The Theme From Mahogany (Diana Ross), The Name of the Game (ABBA), Weekend in New England (Barry Manilow).

Why we sing (Singing Arkansas, #38)

Before starting this trip, I knew there were karaoke contests because I’ve seen signs advertising them on bar marquees: “Karaoke Competition Tonight: Win $50!” or “Sing and win $100 every month. See inside for details.” But I didn’t know that there were serious competitions – such as the Karaoke World Championship – yet here I was, in Arkansas, meeting the Champion from 2014, Anthony Montius Magee.

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Coach Scott and Anthony, sporting his WKC medal.

We had been in touch online for a couple of months, and the flow of conversation always seemed natural. Then, when we finally met face to face, Anthony’s hug was warm and genuine, like one from a long-lost friend. The night at Little Rock was another time that someone has gone out of their way to set up a party for me – a huge act of kindness that I simply wasn’t expecting when I started this journey.

I met the rest of Team Arkansas as they came in – these were the rest of the folks that were going to be in Seattle next month for the World Finals. One of the members came in second last year.  It’s clear that Anthony is proud of this group; they are his family.

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Team Arkansas!

Conversations that night are primarily about karaoke competitions, and how the judging works. I learn about the four criteria upon which contestants are judged –voice (being on key), technique (breathing, etc), stage presence (connecting to the audience and making it a performance), and artistry (making a song your own). I’m more than a bit curious about this because most of the contests I’ve heard about base their winners on crowd noise – clearly not a criterion for something as organized as this. As they discuss the different merits a karaoke singer needs to excel, I’m aware I do OK in the first two (the actual singing stuff), but know I lack stage presence. As far as artistry goes…I’m not sure. I think I sing to the song itself, try to conform to the original. The idea of making a song my own takes karaoke to a level I really don’t consider.

But the most important thing to consider when choosing a song for competition, Anthony says, is to choose a song you care about. Don’t try to choose based on what you think the judges would like: that is a mistake. If you choose a song for anyone other than yourself, then the song “won’t have passion, won’t have your stamp on it.” I break this rule so often (including my first song choice of the night), but it’s something I’m beginning to realize myself over this trip – karaoke is about singing what you want. I still think that mantra still needs to be within reason, however. No sense bringing a crowd down or totally changing styles. But maybe that’s part of why I choose what I do: because I want to please the crowd (I realize this is a sort of warped way of saying I choose songs for others, but I’m leaving it this way for now).

Anthony next asks what I like to sing best, and I’m somewhat hesitant to answer. People ask me that question all the time, and I still struggle with how to respond. I think it’s coming down to Stevie Nicks and Olivia Newton-John, though Donna Summer is still a hell of a lot of fun, and so is Billy Joel.  I mention those to him, leaving off the one-offs of What’s Up and It’s Raining Men; I still don’t think my Somebody to Love will ever be polished enough. Anthony wants to hear Magic, Roberto, another judge, prefers Xanadu (something I sing often) – I “practice” each for a couple of seconds in the bathroom to figure which one I want to sing. I think about “getting a chance” to sing Magic which is back to the point: sing what you want when you want. I go up to the KJ and commit to the slower song I rarely do but enjoy instead of one that I consider one of my standards (though I do remember singing it poorly once at Scott’s goodbye party. At least it didn’t feel right that night). I’ve sung Magic one other time, at Amy’s bachelorette party at her request. So, in a way, this song I love I’ve never sung for me. Some other time and place, this may happen.

For now, though, I will continue to thrive in karaoke community as opposed to performance. Team Arkansas clearly has both, but if I were to chose one over the other, I will stick with the former.

The basics:

House Party (Singing West Virginia, #27)

The West Virginia stop was one of those that was on the way to nothing; a two-day drive to put a checkmark by a state. After months of chatting online and sharing schedules, Joe waits for at the Elks Lodge #198 in Parkersburg – so were his assistant, Kristy, and his mother. He and his mom wore matching blue Joe-E-Okie T-shirts; she had no teeth. Not to worry, though, as her dentist was simply on vacation, but it did require her to pass on the corn on the cob that came with the steak dinner. Every Friday is steak dinner and Joe treated both of us – he had already promised my dinner was on him, and Dave benefitted from the fact that his girlfriend decided not to order one back to the house after all (she was home watching their 8-month old). Dave, Joe, and I ordered it rare, and mom got medium. The dinner also came with a baked potato as big as a house; luckily, the Lodge ran out by the time our dinners were served, so I “only” got half of one, splitting a spud with mom. The four of us sat together in a booth and exchanged small talk during bites. Sometimes the talk grew, though, as we learned about mom’s ex, Joe’s time in the Marines, and the juggling of blended families. A “Don’t Tread on Me” sign hung on the wall above us.

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Time for steak dinner!

The corn was a bit mushy but still farm sweet, and the steak was cooked just right, but was about half fat; Joe complained about it to no one in particular, then cleared our plates and started the show. He had gotten there early to set up, so that he could have dinner with us.

Joe opens and Kristy follows with matching CCR tunes. Kristy normally opens with Crimson and Clover, and Lodi is her second song, followed by Cathy’s Clown, but she mixed up her typical order so that they could match up nice. Two lights and a disco ball make a crazy display of color throughout the room. Shows here get to be about 8-12 singers long (I think this includes them) so no matter what, the KJs get to sing a lot, too. It’s pretty much a steady string of regulars every night here, though last week for Joe’s birthday there was a larger crowd – 21 singers that night. The Elk’s Lodge simply doesn’t ever get packed, they say and that’s fine by me, though I end up singing a lot more than usual. Coming up with songs can be challenging at times, and when there are a lot of choices to make it calls for extra brain power and creativity that I simply don’t always have.

First song up I choose Rhiannon; I sing a lot of Fleetwood Mac, but this is a first for me. Mom tells me I sound better than Stevie Nicks when I sit down. A huge compliment for sure, but extra special for me, as in high school I was tempted to get a heart tattooed on my ankle with “S.N.” written inside. One of the many dreams I had back then I’m glad never manifested themselves.

After a couple of rounds of singing, Joe buys me a shot. He first offers a “little beer” which I decline because it has cream as a float to look like the foam – I don’t like dairy with my booze. Then he keeps recommending shots with Red Bull in them; I tell him I can’t do caffeine; plus, I think to myself that Red Bull tastes like cough syrup – I hate that shit. I tell him that straight Jaegy is fine, and no, not in a bomb (that means with Red Bull). He orders the shots, and we clink glasses at the table together. I take mine down in a few gulps, as I’m not one to slam anything. Later on, Becky the social manager of the Elk’s Lodge offers to buy me a drink, but I say I really shouldn’t have any more alcohol tonight. She seems disappointed, but I was already a beer, a G&T, and Joe’s shot in, and was staring at a full G&T. Linda Lou, the bartender, pours a stiff drink and sings a mean Susan Tedeschi in a perfectly gravely voice. Joe says she sings a lot better when she’s drunk, but I have a hard time imagining her any better.

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Joe, me, and Dave under the crazy Elks Lodge lights

Joe records me for his YouTube channel and it’s time to decide on a song. Not sure whether to play it safe and choose more Fleetwood Mac or go big; Dave encourages big and Somebody to Love is recorded. During the song, I sense every missed note, every missed opportunity to amp it up a bit. My scat at the end feels off, and I’m painfully aware that I have no stage presence during instrumental breaks. Still, I have a good time. I awkwardly wave at the camera when it’s all done. The patrons cheer and the one black man yells “Who Let the Dogs Out?” which seems to be his signature phrase for a job well done. His friends try to get him to actually sing the song, but he says no way – his amazing voice is reserved for the likes of Tracey Chapman and R. Kelly.

Even though the show started out super slow, it fills by 9:30 – we’re at about 15 singers during the peak singing time, which is a pretty nice balance between getting to sing and just hanging out. Many others are here just to have a cheap drink and hang out with friends. At 11pm, we stop and the traditional Elk 11 o’clock toast is conducted to honor all absent members. After the break, someone sings Welcome to the Jungle. Joe leads the song by saying he won’t come knocking if there’s a jungle, then mutters something about the carpet matching the drapes, until he settles on the line “It better be a hardwood floor.”

Joe and I close with the duet, Stop Dragging My Heart Around — another Stevie Nicks first for me. We listen to once out front while he smokes to remember it; I don’t think I’ve heard that tune in at least a decade. Normally Joe opens and closes the show, but this time I get to share the honors with him to end this night. We do OK, all things considered. At a tad after midnight, there are no more songs to choose; everyone hugs me goodbye or shakes my hand and wishes me well. I hope these people all fare well, too. They made the long drive totally worth it.

The basics:

  • Location: Elks Lodge #198, Parkersburg, WV
  • Miles traveled: 554 Miles
  • Songs sung: Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac), Like the Weather (10,000 Maniacs), It’s Raining Men (Weather Girls), Somebody to Love (Queen), I’ll Be There (Jackson 5), Walkin’ After Midnight (Patsy Cline), Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty).

Data analysis (Singing Massachusetts, #22)

I’m going to talk shop here for a minute. As I approach the halfway mark on my trip, I’m starting to think about what makes an ideal karaoke experience, at least for me. The Deuce was a lot of fun, and I would love to go back there again, but possible not for karaoke. The bar itself was originally established as a WWII Club (complete with functioning periscope!), but now leaned toward being a lesbian bar. When we arrived about an hour before the singing was to begin, we were the only ones in there, save for the staff. There was also a regular, Carl, in there. An older man who was there for the third time that day, drinking a ginger ale. A bachelorette party then came in, surprised by the lack of crowd; then Carl said something offensive to the woman  wearing an actual wedding dress, and they took off before the first song the group put into the jukebox was over. The slight bartender told Carl off for chasing customers away:

“They were customers?” He truly looked confused.

“All people who come into this bar are customers, Carl,” sighed the bartender. She told him never to do that again, but I personally have my doubts. Later she told us that he had had a stroke not too long ago, and his filter was more than a little off. She still needed him to stay in line, she said — especially after the last time when he told her and his partner to fuck off for no reason other than they were having a simple conversation.

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The bartender spent the next hour or so chatting us up and helping us order Chinese food for delivery, since her kitchen flooded in January and they hadn’t fixed it yet. We drank local beers and got sucked into watching You, Me, and Dupree. Not a typical evening for sure.

Between 10 and 10:30 the place went from dormant to packed. Another bachelorette party that stayed, some smaller groups, and a birthday where everyone wore tiny hats – chef’s, pink western, sombreros, and fez all worn at a slight angle high upon their heads. The pool tables filled up, as did all the tables. The wait for a drink was three deep. I had put in my first song choice when the place was empty and regretted the selection when the KJ called my name to get the place going; somehow old Chicago didn’t really fit the vibe, but some of the bachelorette group seemed to be listening actively and that was encouraging. However, this was the sort of place where people were more interested in socializing and occasionally singing.

The speaker system was so loud, blaring right behind the singers. I screamed my second song more than sang it. It was a better choice at least (who doesn’t go for 80s Pat Benatar?), and I saw people bobbing up and down to the music as they chatted with their friends. Supportive crowd, but not like Otters where there was high participation. I thought there would be more dancing. Maybe there was later.

My gut says there weren’t a lot of regulars there – just one wearing a white cowboy hat and a Hawaiian shirt. His slow song selections were well done, but completely drowned out by the din of people shooting pool, celebrating birthdays and love, and just generally doing their own thing. People were having a great time, and it was apparent that the karaoke was the big draw to a place like this, but at the same time the karaoke wasn’t the main event. Lots of singers waiting to sing, but no one seeming to want to be there to listen. The system too loud to have a conversation with a friend, but no one seemed to be into dancing – and some song selections were quite conducive to that. One of the highlights was a guy who did his own twisting dance moves as he sang a mean Kiss in true Prince falsetto.

I’ll continue to ponder the factors that create the ideal karaoke experience for me; the social scientist in me compels me to. It also gets amazing reviews on Yelp for its karaoke, crowd, and vibe, so I will also appreciate that my experience was a sample size of one. In the meantime, I’ll remember The Deuce as a bar with a friendly staff, strange history, and a man named Carl who may or may not learn to keep his thoughts to himself.

The basics:

  • Location: The Deuce WWII Club, Northampton, MA
  • Miles traveled: 256
  • Songs sung: Saturday in the Park (Chicago), Love is a Battlefield (Pat Benatar)