The fine art of Karaoke, which is Japanese for “embarrassing your girlfriend in public,” is both an art and a science. The art comes from song choice, stage moves, and overall vocal talent. The science comes from the chemical effects of alcohol on otherwise normal humans. Tequila is popular because it gives you super powers. Even the most mild mannered accounts payable office drone will hop up on stage and do a raucous, life affirming version of “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis after ingesting just the right amount of fermented cactus sweat.
Just as every rose has it’s thorn, every karaoke bar has it’s pluses and minuses. Here are a few places in the city you might currently be unaware of.
Cookies, 2304 N Western Ave
You could be forgiven for thinking this is a bakery that sells cookies. It’s right next to local staple Someplace Else Deli and Bakery, so thinking cookies are made here has a sort of associative logic to it. Thankfully, this isn’t a bakery, it’s a dive bar with friendly people, cheap drinks, and decor that seems to have been agreed upon in 1963 and never changed. I say this with deep affection. This is a tiny, tiny bar; some might say intimate. This place would be a good spot to try out a torch song or two, maybe some leisure suit ballads of the late 1970s or, if you’re feeling like a hipster wolverine, go all out and rock an 80’s power ballad.
If you’ve traveled far, might we suggest:
Don Quixote Club, 1111 Portland
Perhaps the best known karaoke dive in OKC, The Don Quixote club has the widest range of talent at any ‘oke bar. It ranges from undiscovered superstar in waiting, like that movie with Huey Lewis as a karaoke hustler, and people who are clearly either black out drunk or seriously mentally ill, or perhaps both. The upside of this is this is that it’s impossible to be the worst singer there. The downside is that every single person inside is smoking several cigarettes at once. I went there with some co-workers from Panera Bread once and it smelled like I had been chain smoking for days on end. Also someone stole my friend Hillary’s hoodie, or she left it there and forgot. What I’m getting at is: if you find a hoodie at the Don Quixote Club, please send it to me and I’ll make sure she gets it.
If you’ve left a hoodie and find it’s hard living without it, might we suggest:
Nancy’s Lighthouse, 5708 North May Ave
Nancy’s is classy. Classy and well lit, with comfortable chairs and no smoking. In short, this is the distinguished people of “age” karaoke bar. Nancy (or whoever is in charge, I assume it’s Nancy) objects to foul language in songs, which leads to some high drama power struggles between random drunks and the karaoke DJ, who doesn’t get paid enough to memorize every song with the f bomb in it.
Need something safe, but still want to be both ridiculous and subversive? Might we suggest this:
(Alternative: “Afternoon Delight.” So classy you don’t need the “F” bomb. Also there’s a song called “Crushin,” but it is hip-hop oriented. So if you’re not in the right company, it’s lost completely on the wrong ears. Plus have you seen drunk ass people try to rap? It’s, uh, interesting.)
The Zodiac Club, 3506 N MacArthur Blvd
The Zodiac is a dive with a capital “D,” and it is stacked to the brim with regulars. The karaoke crowd here is deeply devoted and they all seem to know each other, so prepare to stand out like a sore thumb. Also be prepared for a neighborhood with a lot of character, which is to say mildly terrifying.
Need something that helps you blend? Might we suggest this crowd pleaser, seriously if Elvis covered it you know it’s a winner:
The Oasis Club, 2629 NW 1oth St
Another bar in a neighborhood that could be politely termed ramshackle, The Oasis has a certain magic to their atmosphere. It’s one part “someone might stab me”, one part “hey, taco trucks within walking distance!”
Feeling like you just found a Wonderwall in this quaint hole in the wall? Might we suggest:
The Corner Pocket, 10601 S Western Ave
This is a pool hall that also has karaoke. It also has a DJ with way more vocal talent than ears around to appreciate it. Sometimes they have a karaoke championship wherein participants can net $1,000 in prize earnings. But be forewarned, this place is a death trap of second-hand smoke. You will walk out smelling like cancer.
Wanna put that husky smoker’s voice to use, may we suggest:
(Alternative: anything by Adele. If you’re country, perhaps it’s a gravely Tom Waits song.)
Rustler’s Saloon, Best Western. 4300 S.W. Third.
It’s in the Best Western Saddleback Inn if that says anything. But it is a non-smoking alternative to many of the other places listed. So when you crawl home (or rent a room if you are too drunk to drive) after 2 a.m. at least years of someone else’s nicotine addiction won’t have fused to your favorite “dry-clean only” jacket.
Feeling a little bit country? Might we suggest:
For Saint Patricks’s Day might we suggest: “Oh, Danny Boy” or “Wild Irish Rose.” Added bonus? You can these in groups.