Karaoke!

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Think you can’t sing? Well, as I witnessed last Friday night, ability is no barrier to getting up on the small stage and belting out your favourite tunes.

Blute’s is a karaoke bar in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. Its website states its “sole aim was to capture an aesthetic reminiscent of quintessential Australian pubs from the 80s”. As someone who frequented pubs in the 80s, I can’t say I felt like I was back there, but the vibe was relaxed and welcoming; it didn’t matter who you were or what you looked like. And it certainly didn’t matter whether you could sing or not; Blute’s is a place for people to just belt out their favourite tunes regardless of ability and without judgement. To sing like there’s no one sober enough to be listening.

Early in the evening a man with an eye-patch, who was obviously a regular, launched into several gravelly renditions of old favourites. He didn’t care whether anyone was listening or not. He was enjoying himself and he seemed to enjoy listening to other people as well. There were a couple of other lone guys early on who quietly chose their tunes then got up and belted them out with abandon. As the evening wore on, the crowd grew as groups spilled out from other venues emboldened by alcohol to give voice to their hidden dreams of stardom.

There’s a machine hanging on the wall where you can search for a particular song or browse different categories. I needed to find something I knew and something I knew I could actually sing. A queue of eager regulars was forming behind me so I quickly decided on Alanis Morrissette’s Ironic and with slight trepidation pressed the button to book it in.

The author doing her best

I was outside sipping my drink when I heard my name called, so I had to sprint in and grab the microphone from the guy running the show. Fortunately, I have sung in a band, albeit briefly, so was a little bit familiar with the situation. But this is not a set up where there’s someone sitting at a mixing board down the back twiddling dials, and there’s no foldback so you can’t hear yourself very well, which means you could sound like shit or you could sound great. But the words were up on the screen, so I opened my mouth and started singing.

The regulars were sat at a small table close to the platform that serves as a stage and they were whooping it up. As were my friends, bless them. I have no idea if I was in tune or not. I know I missed bits. Doesn’t matter. It was fun. Which is the whole point.

One of my friends said she’s always wanted to sing but was told in high school to never do so. “Who cares?” I said. “If you want to sing go for it.” So she punched Montego Bay into the machine and pressed the button. And with me standing up there with her for moral support, she went for it. Was she in tune? I actually don’t know because I couldn’t hear her. Didn’t matter. Everyone clapped and whooped anyway. High school teacher be damned, my friend sang her heart out and loved it. As did everyone who got up on stage.

So if you’ve always wanted to sing but were too afraid to try, get yourself along to Blute’s and have a crack.

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