SHE SAID: DJ or band?

April 29, 2010

Jeremy and I have already posted on our love of attending weddings and I can vouch for him being one of the more entertaining wedding guests OF ALL TIME.  Actually, I lie.  Jeremy and I have never attended a wedding together and so I cannot regale you with tales of his chicken dancing, his talent for toasting, or about that time when he tripped while coming off the dance floor and had to be rushed to the emergency room to get a splinter taken out of his palm.  But we both have some weddings under our belts and I know that he enjoys partaking in the merrymaking as much as I.

This past weekend I went to a family wedding and was a little disappointed, at first, to see a DJ’s table in the reception hall.  I don’t mean to offend any DJs or aspiring DJs out there, but I have to confess that when I get to a wedding, seeing a DJ setting up is almost as bad as seeing that the lead singer of the band is sporting a serious mullet and white platform patent leather boots.  You can’t help but start conjuring exit strategies and calculating how much time is appropriate to spend tolerating the music before you can ease out the side door without offending the new couple.  Things could be worse, I’ll admit; a cash bar or some Disney theme …

After the cocktail hour (during which my date and I dominated the bar and thusly were the most obvious candidates to welcome a DJ enthusiastically), we headed into the main room to welcome the bridal party fresh off their photo shoot, toast the couple, eat, and ultimately, dance dance dance.  Only, before the toasting commenced, the DJ had us twirling our napkins over our heads while he paraded around the room in a chef’s hat and managed to get one unlucky fellow (who happened to have said yes when I suggested attending a spring wedding in Connecticut) doing the twist as a demonstration for the whole table.  I was downing drinks faster than a pre-teen who had just discovered virgin piña coladas and anticipating high tailing it after the cake.

And then somewhere in there, the DJ became totally okay.  It was fun hearing songs I hadn’t heard in forever.  It was fun spending the entire night dancing.  I saw my date’s face light up with unbridled enthusiasm when a country favorite was played, my niece jumped at the chance to dance to some Train, and my mother almost cried when Lady in Red started to play.  There was some line dancing, some twisting, some Charleston-ing and some confusion explaining to my mom that it’s okay for two women to dance together – thankfully she got over it and I was able to throw her around on the dance floor a little.

And all of a sudden, my anti-DJ stance went out the window and I owned that dance floor, despite the pain my being out there caused any innocent bystanders.  And maybe the lesson here is that alcohol can make anything fun.  Maybe it’s that we shouldn’t let our stereotypes stop us from having fun or changing our hell bent stance on something.  Maybe it’s that with a little help (be it an informed friend, a strong drink, or an unexpected encounter), an experience we weren’t anticipating or even one that we were dreading, can be a hell of a lot of fun and even memorable.

Although, and this is the one draw back of a DJ, I come from a singing family.  An overwhelming, enthusiastic, and very loving family that happens to love to jump up on stage and start singing, especially at weddings.  My sister has one of the best voices I have ever heard and thankfully, it’s usually her that’s up there.  The one draw back of a DJ is that were one to sing, it ultimately sounds like karaoke.  No matter how stunning the vocals.  And that is where the band comes out the clear winner in this comparison.  Because while karaoke is fun at a dive bar with friends and a healthy sense of confidence, a wedding is neither the time nor the place.

And yes, I was most definitely trying to convince the DJ to let me up there for a few songs on Saturday.

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SHE SAID: Karaoke

October 26, 2009

I don’t know how it happened, but I ended up at a dive bar with an elaborate karaoke set up on Saturday night.  It wasn’t the karaoke that lead us there, and it wasn’t the karaoke that kept us there, but it is what I remember from the night.

There were the obvious characters at the bar who are all worthy of mention.  One man was, coincidentally enough, wearing exactly what my friend is planning on her son wearing when he dresses up as a pirate for Halloween.  Only he wasn’t dressing up.

Another was a weathered guy in a Yankees T-shirt (the first sign we weren’t going to be friends), and it wasn’t so much what he was wearing, but more that he insisted on following me around for a large part of the evening claiming to have sung with Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Poison.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he hadn’t, but he kept warning me that when he went up, he was going to blow me away.  His name was Seven, another dubious claim, and I never did get to hear his singing.

Then there was the requisite birthday party of mid-thirties women who were well on their way to hammered and the main partakers in the Karaoke.

Add to this picture a few scattered, worn looking regulars and you have the scene.

The astounding thing about Karaoke is the song choice and the amazing surprises that come your way when you think you’ve stereo-typed someone.

I expected Madonna and Alanis Morisette from the women … and they delivered, complete with some raunchy dance moves (Shoop – Salt ‘n Peppa) accompanied by some self-conscious giggling.

I expected Johnny Cash from the worn looking, mullet donning man.  No go.  Instead was some obscure love song, so genuinely delivered that it made up for the terrible rendition of a terrible song (You Oughta Know).  And all of a sudden, karaoke stopped being such a joke and started to become something else.

Hokey and super lame, I know, but there is something so heart wrenching about a person up on stage singing their heart out with eyes closed not giving a rat’s arse about who is listening, but doing it for the sake of doing it and not to impress some girl or make friends laugh.  And maybe I’m making something beautiful out of a drunk loner who doesn’t even remember that he was at a karaoke bar, much less singing.  And I realize that this possibility is very likely, but I like to think in spite of the drunk, repressed women and the group I was with (also drunk and repressed), a moment of beauty occurred.  Or a few.


HE SAID: Karaoke

October 26, 2009

Most of you think I’m probably about to rip Nifer a new one for taking a seemingly fun and drunken night out and turning it into some sort of introspective look at drunken culture. However, I have to admit it, I get it. I see her point, I just hadn’t thought about it in that light before. That being said, I still think you might have been reading a bit too much into JP’s Karaoke scene. While I agree that there is something a bit depressing about CERTAIN karaoke performances, most karaokeing falls into three categories: self-serving, entertaining, and downright shitty.

The issue with self-serving people is that they are not singing to entertain the crowd; instead they are simply trying to wow you with their singing prowess. Believe you me, I am not at a Karaoke bar on a Friday night to see some choir couple gush into each other’s eyes while belting out “I Got You Babe.” If you have a great voice, by all means use it…just make sure you’re not obviously trying to show off, do your best to make sure your performance falls into…

Entertaining. These performances are what makes a karaoke night fun. Some people get up there with great voices, sing a fun song (note: Only the Good Die Young does not qualify as a good karaoke song, and hasn’t since the Wall was still up), and really get the crowd into it. Others get up there with a relatively crappy voice, but still manage to be entertaining. This latter category, I’m proud to say, is the one I fall into.

I have actually only performed actual karaoke twice. First time I was with a few guys on Spring Break down in Turks & Caicos. While my song selection was somewhat cheesy – “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” – the fact that my buddy and me performed the whole Top Gun scene leading up to the song really revved up the crowd and we didn’t buy a drink the rest of the night (that last part is probably a lie, but I like to remember it that way).

The second time was here in Stowe, and I wasn’t even inebriated. I just felt like having a good time. Even if that good time meant singing “Keep on Lovin’ You” by REO Speedwagon. People clapped and sang along, so I felt somewhat accomplished. Finally, this isn’t really karaoke, but I am not ashamed to admit that this is me. I promise, if you click on the link, you will be entertained.

The last category is perhaps the most painful. These people suck at singing (and many times think they are good), pick lame songs, and don’t engage with the crowd at all. These folks are probably up there singing something along the lines of “Like A Prayer” because they either A. think it’s cool or B. lost their virginity to it while in the back of their Mom’s Buick Skylark in 1989. Often times these people will cause such discomfort amongst fellow bar patrons, a cigarette break or bathroom run is the only hope of respite. But then again, I look at this guy and am completely confounded. He is awful, I want to break a bottle of Bud over his head, but yet I can’t look away, and have a feeling I’d probably be cheering him if I was there…