People in Vancouver take karaoke very seriously. This isn’t the kind of place where you get shit-faced and make an ass of yourself singing cheesy power ballads off-key while your friends laugh hysterically.
In Vancouver, you don’t do karaoke unless you’ve practiced at home in front of the mirror for three months. And if you show up without perfect tone, pitch and key, you won’t be allowed up on stage more than once.
Your friends may be howling while you screech through a Celine Dion number, but no one else is. Applause is reserved for good singers.
I know this from first-hand experience. I’m not a good singer. Not even close. A teacher in grade school once told me I was tone deaf after hearing me sing O Canada. Luckily, I have no shame and don’t embarrass easily.
My friend Carl thought it would be fun to celebrate my birthday yesterday at a gay nightclub, which was hosting a karaoke night. I assumed it would be full of people singing ABBA and campy tunes. You know, the kind of place where you get shit-faced and make an ass of yourself singing off-key power ballads while your friends laugh hysterically.
Wrong. The only thing separating gay karaoke from regular karaoke was the pink sequined curtain framing the stage, and the fact that most of the earnest Canadian Idol wannabes were gay.
The good singers were invited up on stage over and over again. Like the DJ and his friend, who kept bumping the bad singers to the back of the line while they sang bad slow songs. Mostly Christian country songs about the bible and crosses on the side of the road. It was hard to tell if they were being ironic.
They let me up on stage twice. The first time I sang Elton John’s "Tiny Dancer," which was a strategic choice because it’s one of those songs that sounds better when you yell instead of sing. "HOLD ME CLOSER TINY DANCER." See what I mean?
The second time I tackled a more challenging number, Kylie Minogue’s "Can’t get you out of my head." I was not allowed back on the stage after that. So I figured if I wasn’t allowed to sing, then I was going to dance. The funny thing is, once I hit the dance floor, so did everyone else. It became a lot more fun after that.
And who says a gay bar isn’t a good place to meet men? One guy pulled me aside to tell me he thought I was "gorgeous." Okay, so he was blind drunk and with his boyfriend. It was still nice to be on the receiving end of a compliment. Especially on my birthday, bad voice and all.