So here’s how you get over your fear of karaoke: Peruvian karaoke bar! On Monday I was invited to a birthday dinner for Pierre – one of my co-workers – who, unlike me, fancies himself a discotec-er and actually participates in Peru’s nightlife. While everyone was congregating outside the café after his dinner trying to decide what birthday round-two would be, I tried to make a smooth getaway to my house. But, Pierre saw me trying to leave and pulled the “come out for ‘un ratito’ for me birthday” card, which was too hard to turn down. So we all piled into a few taxis and drove over to a basically deserted karaoke bar – I think there were six other people there, but then again it was a Monday.
Instead of a front-and-center stage where you go up and try to emulate some one-hit-wonder, this karaoke bar had little nooks for your party, each with its own TV for watching the lyrics. You didn’t even have to get up to sing. After sitting through the first few songs, I realized, even if I wanted to sing, I’d probably have a tough time finding something that was in English. I was clearly out of my element. Not only did everyone know the lyrics to each song that popped up – without looking – but they could tell the South American country of origin too. Just for kicks I flipped to the slim English section in the song book and found the 200ish American songs that double as Peru’s go-to radio classics. Knowing every Peruvian was a big fan of Queen I decided on Bohemian Rhapsody.
With the mic in hand, I started in on “Is this the real life, is this just fantasy…” and it went smooth enough (besides the spelling errors on the screen) until the song started to pick up at “I see a little silhouette of a man.” Maybe the Peruvian karaoke company assumed this part was too quick and too English for anyone to possibly follow along, because they completely nixed it from the sing-along words. Instead they were filled in by the backup track and all I had to do was come in with the occasional “Mama mia…” Needless to say I didn’t exactly rock the house, but for all most of my fans knew, I sang every word perfectly.