Last night, I dreamed of Lucky Voice karaoke again. One night in October, exhausted after an unusually mad day in the office, I found myself alone and sober at the ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert Frocktober Party.’ I was alone because the spouse was away and none of my other London friends could make it. I was sober because I didn’t dare drink solo – I rely heavily on Spouse to get me home when I’m intoxicated. Having been on the Dukan diet for what seems like years, I postulated that were I to consume two cocktails for the price of one (during happy hour between 6-8pm) I would end up singing ‘Merlin the Happy Pig’ soon as look at you, and I could not rely on my beer compass to get me home. My fears were legitimate. The last time I sang karaoke, I consumed so much hooch spouse had to drag me into a Chinese restaurant to try to get something to soak up the wine lake I had consumed. He was so successful I sang ‘ode to joy’ much of the way home on the tube. The tube is such a fabulous, cheery place when you are really, really drunk. Some punters even joined in. The hangover the following day was so epic however, I resolved never to touch the demon drink again. Thus far, I’ve pretty much stuck to it.
But I digress. On arrival at Lucky Voice, I was greeted and told my entry fee included an hour’s karaoke, as well as a party and a quiz. I brightened – I’m good at entertainment pub quizzes. I sat down at a table decorated with all manner of boas and sequined masks and looked over the cocktail and food menus, both of which were very reasonably priced. I glanced over at the customer sitting next to me, one of whom had the most prestigious cleavage I have ever seen. In Yorkshire we have a quaint saying: “a chest like a pair of zeppelins in a dead heat.” This lady’s zeppelins could have broken free at any moment – honestly, I didn’t know where to look. As we wore on towards 8 o’clock the place became more crowded, but never offensively so. The crowd was in a good natured mood. Two young ladies sat next to me and we chatted briefly about the blog. I watched with quiet amazement as they made use of the happy hour to the fullest possible extent – by my calculations they drank four cocktails each. I was impressed – I’d have had to have my stomach pumped. Before the high japes kicked off, they went off to use the karaoke facilities, and I sat down with my pieces of paper for the quiz.
This was no ordinary quiz: there were free activity rounds – one was a getting into drag round, another was a dancing round and there was also a singing round. Tis was all very thoughtfully done: the team brought round wet wipes for those who had been required to daub themselves with make-up without a mirror. The dancing round was delivered with real charm (an astonishingly ample woman was called ‘health and safety’ by our hostess as she strutted her stuff to the disco beat), and… well the singing round was pretty poor, to be honest, but two out of three ain’t bad. The funny thing was that virtually all the contestants looked terribly reluctant when they went up on stage, they all joined in the shenanigans with considerable gusto. Yes, they were all well oiled, but I don’t think that’s why they joined in. I think the atmosphere was such that they just got on with it, reasoning that to do these things half-heartedly would be worse than doing nothing at all.
The quiz rounds were tricky: the question papers were taken in for marking (always the sign of an executive pub quiz that) with rounds devoted to Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Divas and ‘disco favourites’. At one point our hostess went round with Priscilla themed cup-cakes – I could see at once these had been produced by a very posh baker.
Again I was very impressed by the thoughtfulness and expense that our hosts had gone to in putting this event together. Our fabulous hostess had some thoughts about how long we would be seeing the edible glitter once we had eaten our Priscilla cup cakes, but no matter. Even I, alone and stone cold sober was having a fabulous time. Two of the actors from Priscilla the stage show turned up in full costume and with considerable commitment to having their photo taken with EVERYONE. They even roped in the professional photographer to take my photo with them on my iPhone, and made him take it twice when the first one turned out badly – I was genuinely touched.
It was about this point of the evening that the two girls I had chatted with earlier returned from their hour-long karaoke session. They were gutted that they’d missed out on all the fun and games of the quiz (especially as the games finished at about 10 and Lucky Voice was open until midnight – they could have done both). They had complex and detailed thoughts about their karaoke experience, as follows:
They were impressed with both the costume box and waitress service to the private karaoke rooms. They did mourn the lack of a karaoke DJ and felt very strongly that I should check out the work of a legendary DJ called John Boyne who operates in South London. Lucky Voice apparently doesn’t have a book of songs or a list of the most popular songs on-screen – you have to search for the song you want to sign, which absorbs a lot of time when you’ve only got an hour. Knowing what I now do about Lucky Voice, I can assure you that they have thought about this: their full karaoke song list is available to download in advance from their website, and you can set up your own playlist online before you go too. Their iPad/ iPhone app lists the 100 most popular songs for added convenience. My new friends recommended sticking with the 80s as much as possible for karaoke, and particularly recommend Cyndi Lauper’s timeless classic ‘Girls just wanna have fun’, Dolly Parton’s 9-5 and more recently the Vonda Shepherd classic ‘searching my soul tonight (AKA the theme from Ally McBeal). Spouse, my Facebook friends and I have debated this one fairly hard, and come up with the following list of karaoke classics for you to get the party started:
- No Woman, No Cry – Bob Marley. Remarkably good at the beginning of an evening – this one seems to leave everyone happy and chilled;
- Summer Loving, from Grease. Wella, wella, wella, nuff said;
- Torn by Natalie Imbrulia. If a lot of ladies are likely to have sung a song in their bedrooms, you can pretty much guarantee they’ll sing along in the relative privacy of their karaoke room;
- It’s Not Unusual – Sir Tom of Jones. There is a special kind of karaoke singer (i.e. Spouse) who really likes to channel Tom. There’s a lot to be said for Delilah, but if you can only go for one Tom song, it has to be Unusual.
- Minnie the Moocher – obscure? Maybe. Audience participation? Guaranteed.
- I will walk 500 miles (and I will walk 500 more). The Proclaimers’ finest hour. Consider carefully whether to attempt this one if there isn’t enough room to perform Scottish reels.
- Mr Brightside – the Killers. I include this partially because this century ought to be represented a bit, partially because it really is a sing along special.
- Independent Woman – Destiny’s Child. Before Kelly Rowland went all X factor, she was involved in a popular beat combo called Destiny’s Child with some other woman called Beyoncé. At some point in the evening, the ladies in the karaoke room may want to go ‘feminist anthem’. When they do, they will find this both celebrates their independence while being a damn sight easier to sing than 9-5 or Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
- Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen. Scaramouche, scaramouche, the devil has a sideboard. Put aside any troubling thoughts about what this might mean, and join in with the air guitar section.
- And finally… “My Way.” Desperately depressing, yes, but a good singalonga finish for everyone to get behind and shove.
When the quiz ground to a halt, the cheesy disco began. I threw my complete sobriety to the wind, and threw some suitable shapes on the dance floor (to ‘Its Raining Men’ and YMCA, fact fans). My two karaoke queens, the lady with the zeppelins and I strutted our stuff to the disco beat. It was like the end sequence to one of those musicals which Cliff Richard used to make (the ones that involved putting on a show with Una Stubbs and Mervyn Hayes, often in a Routemaster bus). I did a runner shortly afterwards – West London is a long way from Islington. My new-found friends took details of my Facebook and blog swearing blind they would get in touch. They haven’t yet, but no matter. At some point in the evening I heard someone say: “I wish I could move in here.” I wouldn’t go that far, but if I had necked a couple of cocktails, I suspect I’d still be there now, even if I had to hang on by my fingernails. Even though I’d only consumed one bottle of poxy sparkling water and gone entirely solo, I STILL managed to have a fab time. Imagine how much fun you’d have fuelled by mates and alcohol.
Full details of events, pricing and party offers can be downloaded from the Lucky Voice website: http://bars.luckyvoice.com/ Over December, they are focusing on Christmas parties, but in other months they have lots of parties and happy hour deals.