Feeling like an unappreciated office rat, bullied by a boss who’s blind to your star qualities? Show the world what you’re really made of: Take the stage at a karaoke bar.
Moscow offers dozens of karaoke venues — so whether you seek a professional theater-like setting or a private room just for you and your friends, you’ve got choices galore for your three minutes of fame.
In the theater room, all elements are in place to bring out the star in you: a sound engineer, two back-up singers, professional lighting and a cloud of fake stage smoke. You might even find a cheering audience at the tables in the ego-boosting amphitheater-style hall.
Karaoke Boom’s manager, Maxim Kharitonov, said Russia is just discovering karaoke. “It is very Russian to have a drink, your soul opens up and you start singing,” he said. “Here people can do it.”
Kharitonov added that in autumn, the club plans to introduce children’s karaoke and that Saturdays and Sundays are family days. Food-wise, there’s Russian, Italian and Japanese cuisine; song-wise, the selection includes all the Russian favorites plus the usual selection of English, Spanish and Italian oldies. Call in advance if you wish to bring your own music. Budding singers and even the tone-deaf can have five of their songs recorded on a CD for 100 rubles.
Regular admission is 450 rubles per person for unlimited karaoke. VIP rooms run 1,000 rubles an hour per group. Advance bookings are recommended, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
A group of twentysomethings was singing Russian pop and movie hits at ear-splitting volume, managing to dance and sip their cocktails at the same time. Later, a woman in her 30s joined the lineup and, after her faltering rendition of a Russian love song, the younger crowd gave her their thumbs-up and a round of applause.
Club manager Nastya said these aren’t the only signs of goodwill between guests: Impromptu dancing between tables and paying someone else’s bill is also quite common.
Cover charge is 600 rubles for unlimited singing.
According to the rules of in-house etiquette, the wireless mic (actually, there are four, and they are sterilized daily, according to Shchetinina) is passed around from one table to the next after one song. Although the Chinese-themed bar gets its share of well-heeled clientele, “everyone’s equal here, just like in a banya,” Shchetinina said. It is not unusual for an all-female company to receive a bottle of champagne from a man at the next table. Guests usually don’t mind if someone’s singing is quavering — every song is met with a round of applause and the DJ can adjust the music to help you along. “Even if you can’t sing, you will,” she added.
The bar has its share of local celebrities. Shchetinina recalls one man in particular who doesn’t fail to show up with white rose petals stuffed into his pockets, and he showers the ladies with petals while singing Alexander Serov’s “Ya Lyublyu Tebya Do Slyoz” (“I Love You to Tears”).
Although entry is free, there’s a requirement to order 630 rubles’ worth of food and drinks per person. There are more than 600 Russian songs to choose from plus the usual selection of obscure English-language oldies and some token Italian and Spanish songs, but you can bring your own music on a CD.
The club is split into two levels, with a large pull-down screen in the rear and a flat screen TV on the second floor. As they munch on a selection of Russian, European and Japanese dishes, guests are allowed one song each before passing on the mic to the next table. There is a selection of songs in Russian, English, French and Ukrainian, with all-time favorites including titles like “Ryumka Vodki na Stole” (“A Glass of Vodka on the Table”) and even the odd Pavarotti hit.
Each song costs 150 rubles, and an average tab totals $50-$70 per person.
“As strange as it may seem, they all can sing,” Irina Kim, the manager of the karaoke bar in the basement of the Orlyonok Hotel, said of her Korean regulars. Their repertoire usually includes Korean favorites, but those who have been living in Russia for a while particularly enjoy singing a local hit with lyrics that go, “Russian vodka, black bread and herring.”
“It is a way of relieving stress for them,” Kim said.
The bar features a string of private rooms seating from five to 15 guests, with comfortable sofas, low tables and carpeted floors. Each room is equipped with a flat-screen TV, two microphones, a tambourine or two, a set of speakers and a bathroom. The karaoke system scores each singer’s ability to perform, and there are plenty of songs in different languages, including Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and even Vietnamese.
By Kim’s ready admission, karaoke at the Orlyonok is rather pricey at $50 an hour, and if there are more than 10 of you, add another $20. The bar doesn’t have its own kitchen, but food can be ordered from the Korean restaurant nearby.
The karaoke bar inside this centrally located Korean restaurant consists of a few private karaoke boxes and one large common hall. Rooms, depending on the size, can be rented from $30 to $50 an hour. Singing in the common room before an audience of strangers costs $10 on weeknights or $15 on Fridays and Saturdays. The song menu boasts a large selection in English, but many of the songs are not well-known at all, save for a few Paula Adbul, Beatles and Tom Jones hits as well as some Christmas carols. It leaves one wishing for more modern songs.
Silla doesn’t offer a scoring system to help you note your progress, and although the sound is quite good, the walls aren’t soundproof. You can order delicious Korean, Chinese and Japanese food from the adjacent restaurant to keep yourself going.
Yunpen shares its premises with a glittering casino and a movie theater, but this basement joint might just be one of Pushkin Square’s best-kept secrets. The manager will show you to a private room with a table in the middle, large sofas, a disco ball, a great sound system and a large flat-screen TV that gives you scores for each song performed. Yunpen has one of the best selections of Russian-language songs, with the latest additions featured on the first pages of the hefty song menu. The choice of English songs leaves much to be desired, unfortunately, as there are just four or five pages of them, and there are no modern songs except Britney Spears’ “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.” A 10-minute recording of your voice on a tape will set you back $5. And you can be as loud as you want, as the walls are soundproof.
There’s a small food menu with some Korean dishes, pizza and chicken wings. Margaritas go for $15 and cappuccinos $4.
A room for six to eight people can be rented for $20 an hour; a room seating up to 10 people costs $30. For $50 an hour you can rent the banquet hall for 15-20 people.
14/1 Presnensky Val (M. Ulitsa 1905 Goda)
Orlyonok Hotel Karaoke Bar
Yunpen Karaoke Lounge
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