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Redfern RSL Club karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

Redfern RSL Club karaoke

Redfern is one of those places I find interesting, and one in which I feel surprisingly safe...

- partly due to the knowledge that, should the moment require, I could comfortably outrun someone with his trousers on backwards and who is trying not to spill his drink.¬ However, I have found the locals to be the most charming of people, no matter what time of day, and thus I took the train from Central in a buoyant mood.

Redfern Station tends to set the tone for the night, everything removable has been removed, everything securable has been bolted down, and posters oft times declare that train fares need only be paid at one's destination - presumably not to unfairly penalise those for whom the platform benches are their final objective.¬ And straight across the road from the station is Redfern RSL with a surprisingly discrete entrance, but one which is nonetheless ruthlessly guarded.

A visitor to this site, in whom I place much faith, told me enthusiastically that the karaoke at Redfern RSL was tremendously improved, with great sound, a great atmosphere (and, yes, great applause), and with the star attraction being a headset-clad host who danced around the floor bringing a high degree of enthusiasm and personality to the night.¬ However, neither that site visitor nor his delightful wife appeared to be present as I walked into the main hall.

A functional room, the broad and split-level stage forms the main focal point, a timber floored area in front of the stage serving as the dance floor, and with the usual collection of tables and chairs spread atop of a bright green 1970s style carpet.¬ Hardly anyone stood.

Tucked up and behind the entrance is a large and quieter area with more tables and chairs, and from where patrons can escape the noise whilst still commanding a great view of the stage.¬ To the far right of the main hall is the inevitable maze of gambling machines, generally populated with sufficient to make up a decent karaoke crowd all on their own, and beyond that is yet another large room for dining, in this instance holding just one very lonely-looking gentleman who appeared to be either deep in thought or lately discarded by mistake.¬ A note here that the kitchen seems to have an impressive lineup of cuisine favouring Asian dishes, with nothing listed at much over seven dollars, and quite a lot well below.

But, from the entrance, I turned sharp left and headed for the bar.¬ Here, there's a strict protocol of forming a line and shuffling forward to where three or four burly and useful-looking men are climbing over each other and a set of taps in order to deliver beers in the quantity desired¬ by most of their patrons.¬ I have rarely seen such an efficiently run bar, nor such a huge quantity of alcohol poured in such a short time.¬ No doubt the tiny RSL prices help.

Months ago I visited this place at the invitation of Papa Frank and Big Bopper, and unfortunately found the sound to be poor, the singers largely intoxicated and belligerent, and with an extremely long wait to sing.¬ When, on that occasion, I did sing (and, I might add, with the kind of performance into which both heart and soul had been copiously poured), I was rewarded with cursory applause from no more than five out of the hundred and fifty or so members of the audience.¬ Not one to measure my enjoyment of an evening necessarily by the volume of applause, I was nevertheless somewhat downhearted to have given my large audience so little enjoyment.¬ However, some other singers got no applause at all.

So this time I determined to set the record straight, collected a songlist and a request form from the host (who was indeed wearing a radio headset and spruiking with all the clarity of a Sydney Rail announcer), then sat at the closest table which contained a portly and solitary gentleman who looked like he would be good for a chat.¬ I was briefly interrupted by the host announcing that the next singer would be David, but realised it was my namesake - forever the world appears populated by Davids.¬

None of the singers to date had been even moderately good, the sound was rattly and distorted, and the hosting style was brusque and perfunctory.¬ I chose my song, and took it to the host who dismissed it with the words 'been done'.¬ I went back to my table, chose a quite obscure song, returned to the host to be told 'it's down' and be shown the singer's request slip next in turn to be sung (it wasn't).

The voluminous gentleman (later to sing two Elvis songs, and on the second swinging his hips with the resultant huge movement of flesh and to the huge delight of his audience) at my table took a keen interest as I filled out my third song slip.¬ Delighted, he introduced himself as yet another David.¬ Of course.¬ This time I selected two songs of vastly differing styles, went back to the host and was rewarded with a 'been done, and that's down.'¬ I had previously taken the intensity with which many of the patrons were studying their songlists as a sign of their dedication, but now I realised they were merely seeking to guess the song still available to be sung.

I asked David, my table-mate, if he were a singer.¬ 'Sort of', he replied, showing me the slightly mangled ends of the fingers of his left hand.¬ I was puzzled.¬ 'Guitar' he announced.¬ Obviously a war in which the guitar had been the winner.¬ Determined to sing, I chose three songs of dubious merit, and this time hit the jackpot as all three were deemed available.¬ The host literally beamed at me, and I started to dislike him a whole lot less.

Into the disarray of tables now came Robert - someone I have seen roaming other karaoke venues, most times . . .(full story on where2sing.com)


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