Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This is the classy joint across the street from my balcony. It's a karaoke bar and though it doesn't look much by day, just check out it out come nightfall.

Every night the neighbours and I are treated to tuneless wailing, always male. It closes pretty early so it's not the worst, mostly entertaining. I have been tempted to go a couple of times, but I've been told that this is the sleazy male-dominated variety of karaoke bar. Yes, there is apparently more than one variety of karaoke bar. And yes, men just come here, every night of the week to sing all their troubles away.

I've only been to one so far, for my birthday, but I do plan to go again. Sit in a room with your friends, choose a song from a catalogue the size of the Yellow Pages, sing out of tune and bring your own booze in - what's not to like? Not all of them are bring your own booze, mind, just the ones that poor English teachers opt for.

Having your own room is not as intimidating as standing in front of a crowd of strangers and I've discovered that for the most part, people really can't sing so you can check your dignity at the door and howl away to your heart's content. Plus there's usually more than one microphone so no solo numbers are necessary, unless you want to get your X-Factor on (there's always one, eyes closed, fist clenched, the works).

Karaoke really is as big in Japan as you think. Our students skip class in the middle of the day to go. One girl was telling me the other day how her and her mate went to one for six hours last weekend. Not to drink or before going out or anything - just to go, the two of them, for six whole hours. They all have their favourite numbers that they like to perform, mostly Disney or animé songs (like the theme tunes from cartoons) from the sounds of it. If it wasn't Japanese enough before, that's what they choose to sing.

I reckon karaoke needs to be bigger at home. Fire up some rebel songs or a bit of Christy Moore and we'd be off! Bodhrán's an extra tenner.

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