By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – There is no place else where one can pick up a microphone, take center stage and be cheered on (or in some cases not) like a karaoke bar. It continues to be a popular social craze for anyone who loves music and relishes the opportunity of releasing their inner star power, and Rio offers several great karaoke options worth checking out.
Indeed it would appear that sushi is not the only Japanese export enjoyed in the Cidade Maravilhosa. Plus the mixture of Cariocas and foreigners, provides a winning combination that adds to the amusement, bringing together many different music genres and styles.
The most popular is arguably the Karaokê Indie at Casa da Matriz in Botafogo. As the name would suggest the genre of karaoke classics available are largely of the indie music variety, including hits from Radiohead, The Killers, Smiths and The Cure along with some 5,000 other choices.
Club manager Rafael Nogurera is familiar with karaoke enthusiasts and explains the attraction. “Many people love karaoke and it’s not just one type of person, it’s a whole range of people. I think they enjoy being up on stage holding a microphone and being able to sing the songs of their favorite artists.”
Karaokê Indie is hosted every Wednesday night from 8PM, which happens to coincide nicely with Happy Hour from 8PM till 10PM. Entrance fees before 10PM range from R$15 with guest list or a promotional flyer to R$25 without guest list. In addition, birthday promotional packages are available on request.
Another, slightly more upmarket option, is Gente Fina in Zona Sul’s (South Zone) fashionable Leblon neighborhood. Sporting a relaxed lounge like setting, the venue is cozy and comfortable, ideal for a group of friends looking to engage in some light-hearted singing.
Manager Wilson Merderiso is not surprised by the popularity of the Karaoke nights, explaining that customers can choose from a wide variety of songs that will suit all tastes from classics to modern day hits. He adds “Everyone comes here come because they like Karaoke. Men, women, young or old, it doesn’t matter, everyone leaves happy.”
Another venue in Rio really transports karaoke back to its original Japanese roots. The Miakoke Karaoke bar and restaurant in Botafogo not only serves authentic Japanese sushi it also doubles as a lively karaoke scene with songs from just about every genre and in almost any language. The restaurant is open from 6PM till 1AM every Monday to Saturday.
Despite the conflicting views surrounding karaoke that some harbor, any long term fan will attest to its terrifically entertaining qualities. So if ever in pursuit of something a little different, head to any one of Rio’s karaoke venues and maybe, with a bit of Dutch courage, take to the stage and try a few hits.