|The bottom left picture includes my friend, Kirsty, who also starts with K and is pretty damn awesome.|
I love the heck out of karaoke. You have no idea how much I love it. When I lived in Japan and could go to the private karaoke rooms, I'd go maybe 3-4 times a week. Usually on my own. I learnt early on NEVER to go with a guy unless I wanted to partake in shenanigans because apparently my tuneless singing isn't enough to quench the fire in their loins.
My usual haunt was a pretty run down place near where I lived, with ripped and faded lino on the floors and vinyl booth seating. For a few bucks, you got 4 hours of "free time" and a help-yourself soft drink bar.
Later, when I lived with my sister, we'd go to a place near our station. A tiny place with only four rooms. They made the best coffee floats - a shot of coffee with soft serve ice cream. I have to confess, we often got beers from the convenience store and snuck them in with us to avoid the expensive alcohol prices (a common practice for tightarses in Japan).
One day, I left my scarf in the room and went back the next day to pick it up. The man who owned the place presented it to me with both hand, immaculately folded. After that, I had a huge crush on him.
The photos above show some of the more novelty karaoke places I've been - the nerd themed place in Akihabara (we had the Evangelion room, I think). The Billy the Kid karaoke in Hiroshima, which did not have Billy the Kid theme rooms. Then there's a photo of my sister when they put us in the kid's room! My sister is playing air guitar on an inflatable toy. Imagine a room in yellow and orange with a kid's play area including mini slide in the corner!
More than the decor, I'm obsessed with karaoke backing videos. Usually a montage of meaningless videos edited together - that may or may not reflect the feeling of the song. I make stories out of them. The same actors continue their story through different videos from song to song. Sometimes with a different woman or man, sometimes reunited with their partner. Always, for some reason, dropping bags of fruit. I imagine seeing a stranger on the street and feeling like I know them but it really being the actor from the karaoke video come to life. No longer shaking a metal fence near a train station filled with angst but going to the bank or the supermarket or some other routine task.
Even though I have no skill at singing, I love belting out a tune. When you live in a country like Japan, with small apartments, little personal space and feeling that you are always on display as a foreigner, that small, dark karaoke room gives you a time out from the world. It's like time and place no longer exist and you can let yourself go.
Do you like karaoke? Have you ever been by yourself?
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