Monday, December 24, 2007

Part 2: Living the Dream

First of all, apologies for my long absence from posting, but I have been at my parents' house in Florida on a (probably healthy) break from the Internet. Now to continue from where I left off.

I'll save you the suspense...yes, my singing partner and I were the runners-up in the groups and duos category of the karaoke contest. Maybe one of the coolest things I've ever been a part of. We each won a $100 gift card to any restuarant in Manhattan, which I plan to use every last bit of, if such a thing is possible at a vegetarian restaurant. Victory!

Let's back up a little.

The venue, as I mentioned before, was The Spotlight Live in Times Square. I have mixed feelings about this place, which I will detail below.

Keep in mind that I have only patronized this bar as part of a corporate event, and I may be a little biased by my glorious post-performance high. Caveats aside...

The place does not really attempt to hide the fact that it is mostly a giant, tourist-y merchandising ploy. You are filmed while singing, so that they can attempt to sell you a souvenir DVD afterward. Nothing wrong with this at all, but it is the reason for the small song list - they need to own the rights to every song in order to produce the DVDs. I'll give the song list a little credit, as it did include two of my favorite karaoke songs ever - Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and "I've Had the Time of My Life", my chosen duet for the night.

The technology factor is quite cool. Rather than hunt through a book, straining your eyes to read the small type and write down the song number, there is a touch screen at each table that allows you to search for songs and add yours to the queue. In addition, the audience can vote for their favorite performances - what becomes of these results on an average night, I'm not quite sure.

The backup singers are certainly a fun draw. Honestly, when else in my life will I get the opportunity to perform with 4 enthusiastic, choreographed men and women singing behind me? However, I would suggest that the backup singers either needed their mics turned down or needed to sing less often - i.e. sing backup. Again, this may have been special to a corporate party, when they might assume that we need a little extra drowning out. I actually couldn't hear myself at all, which gave me a fuller understanding of the need for stage performers to wear those earpieces. Still, the backup singers were very nice folk.

Almost forgot about the private karaoke booths. I didn't experience these myself because I was frantically running around waiting to get on stage. I know that they are sound-proof, each has a screen with the list of songs, and that they looked like something from The Fly. I only saw 3 booths, one of which was being used for storage of extra chairs. These pods were certainly not a main attraction that night, but a nice option I suppose.

Overall, The Spotlight Live is more of a karaoke club, bigger (3 stories) and more fancily decorated than any of the little hole in the wall bars I'm used to. Although I can't imagine what else I expected from Times Square. It's certainly not a place to go if you have a specific song in mind (the only Madonna on the list was "Holiday" - what??), or if you don't want 3 floors of people paying attention while you attempt to sing with backup. I would recommend trying it at least once for the novelty (sorry I can't quote prices!), and I would probably like to go back and try again. Without a doubt, it's a unique experience and a lot of fun once you're up on stage with the spotlights obscuring much of the crowd from your view. I certainly feel more ready to try live band karaoke... next on my list.

Below is a screenshot of my singing partner and I on stage doing our damndest to evoke the full Dirty Dancing atmosphere. I think we did pretty well, with about 4 couples dancing in front of the stage and my partner doing the crazy Patrick Swayze jump from the stage and subsequent cheesey dancing and strutting. (No we did not do "the lift" - let's get real.) I could only stand on stage and swish my skirt like a dork, a la Jennifer Grey. But my insane polka-dot dress did earn the appreciation of the emcee, which may have settled the vote-by-applause in our favor, so I'd say I did my part. First place went to a group of four guys who created a stunning rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart", complete with dreamy spinning in their choreography. I was honored to lose to them. Maybe if we had mastered a few dance moves ahead of time... sigh, we'll never know.

Just for fun, I'll leave you with a scene we all stop and watch every time it's on. Admit it, you know this one by heart.

The Spotlight Live
1604 Broadway, New York, NY


SPG said...

Coral Springs! Represent!!

I am so very proud.

Seems like a fun spot for a bachelorette party, too! Or...a wedding?

kimberlyand said...

Good call. Definitely would be a great location for a bachelorette party.