Beyond the Shower

Live Karaoke Gives Shy Singers a Chance to Shine

Dino Gump, host at The Ratpack | Photo: Anna Claessen

Singing is my passion. So I often go to karaoke bars for a little practice – a chance to sing my favorite songs into the microphone, with my friends and the rest of the bar cheering me on.

I’ve tried a number of karaoke bars in Vienna, but I was intrigued when I read in the U-Bahn newspaper Heute that there was live karaoke at the Ratpack Bar in the 8th District. I decided to use spring break to check it out.

My good friend Ligia and I arrived at nine o´clock on a Tuesday night in March, described as Luxus Karaoke night in the program. We walked down a couple of steps to the entrance to find a clean, colorful and an attractive bar area where one of the bartenders took our coats and directed us into the performing area.

We didn’t expect at all what we saw. The Ratpack turned out to be a sort of community center for the elderly… well that may be unfair, but I doubt there were many of the audience there under 50. Later on, a group of young people came in so it narrowed the age gap.

We walked in and sat at one of the round tables, decked out with a white tablecloth, a bowl of pretzels, a song list, pens in a glass and a menu. We ordered our drinks and then looked around. The space was filled with yellow walls papered with photos of Frank Sinatra and the Ratpack, others of Gene Kelly, Judy Garland and some of the jazz legends.  People were on the dance floor doing the two-step or sitting chatting at their tables.

I just looked at it as adorable and kept to my mission – to see what it would be like to sing karaoke live.

The selection was pretty long, with a lot of things I didn’t know. I picked out the latest hit, “What’s Up” by the band 4 Non Blondes, from the 90s and waited my turn. First the host did a very presentable rendition of Gershwin’s “S’Wonderful, S’Marvelous” and after him a man in his forties sang something in German that I didn’t recognize.

Then, it was my turn. I sang while two old blues men played their instruments, one on keyboards and the other one on drums.

It was definitely harder to sing to a live band, with lyrics on a stand instead of the music with the lyrics and instructions of which line to sing rolling along on the screen. This was what real singers do, I told myself.

So I took a deep breath… and I did it! And now I can say I sang karaoke live.

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