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Dooleys Hotel karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

REVIEW: Dooleys Hotel review


Well, I've found it - that secret little venue in Brisbane.

And, although it's been on the W2S listings for some time, it seems to have been overlooked by the W2S karaoke crowd. Now, I'm not saying that it doesn't have its faults, but it also has a lot of redeeming features.

Dooleys, at one end of Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, has a special place in my heart, for it was here in the early days (read: about twenty years ago), and at a time where the Valley didn't host anything that wasn't at least slightly illegal, that I had sex under a table of an adjacent, and at that time unused, bar next to the main upstairs bar which had only recently opened. I am unable to remember the degree of sex, the outcome, or the partner, but it was one of those fantasies that one ticks off a mental 'to do' list of adventures, and whenever my eye passes Dooleys on the W2S Gig Listings, there is more than karaoke that crosses my mind.

Dooleys: Karaoke: Fridays & Saturdays: I had to go.

The Valley is trendy - trendy and squallid. It used to be purely squallid, and then it became trendy. Now, it's heading back to pure squallid, though the New Farm side of the area retains a modicum of 'trendy'. Dooleys is a large corner building, the main bar being on the corner, but, strangely, upstairs, and although the various bars also stretch along the road at pavement level, they are a bit confused in design. So, not hearing anything that sounded particularly like karaoke, I asked one of the doormen, and was pointed up the road with the words 'up the road mate.'

The furthest you can go 'up the road' and still be in front of a part of Dooleys is at an intimate bar called by the name of the beer it seems to serve - Kilkennys. It's a pleasant bar, in days gone by the haunt of midday, unemployed (or unemployable) mature drinkers, possibly by virtue of being the only bar at street level and therefore reachable by those clad in wobbly boots, but now it's a pleasant little room with some nice tables and comfortable seating.

Seated around a few tables pulled together was a group of perhaps a dozen, and a few other people sat around in the other chairs and at the bar. Being greeted with a smile by the bar girl is always a great sign, and, not seeing the advertised beer on tap, I enquired whether they had Kilkennys. She cast her eyes over to the very tall young make barman, and after a few seconds of telepathy, she decided that - yes - they had Kilkennys. I ordered a pint.

The karaoke was set up in the far corner, although 'set up' in this case meant plugging a player and amp into the bar's corner TV, and balancing a small monitor nearby - a configuration that forced the singer to position side on to the audience. But the sound was really quite good, perhaps on the upper side of 'good' for this kind of bar.

Strangely, there were two speakers side by side on the floor quite close to me, and as I looked at the wall between the corner with the karaoke and the corner with the door though which I had just arrived, I saw another two speakers so far along that wall that they were actually quite near the door. But the sound was fine, and the singers appeared to be having no difficulty in hearing themselves and pitching correctly.

Two singers, and then the KJ decided to sing. He managed, in both his singing and his KJ-ing, to avoid eye contact with anyone, and his crewcut hair, neaderthal good looks, and black sweatshirt with heavy-metal motifs gave him the appearance of being a bouncer in temporary possession of the karaoke. He was, however, Hemmi - of Hemmi's Karaoke.

He was also in love. The object of his desires sat sullenly to my right at the bar. Attired in a way that could mean only that she had recently finished her shift at a local supermarket, and with an expression (or lack of expression) to match, she followed Hemmi's every move with her eyes. No matter how close anyone came to invading her personal space, not an eyelid was batted in her constant visual devotion to her partner. And Hemmi could not stand still - from the karaoke corner to the bar, from the bar to outside the door, and from outside back to the karaoke when needed, he moved impatiently - occasionally meeting up with his love in a desparate and temporary locking of lips. And neither of them smiled, for this was serious.

But Hemmi's other love was Hemmi, and Hemmi needed to sing. Maybe this was a part of the courtship ritual, and Hemmi did need to sing higher than is normally considered blokey, but it was soon to become a regular feature of the night.

Fortunately there were few other singers - well, perhaps 8-10 of us in a room of 25-30 people, and so Hemmi was mixed into the rotation without too much difficulty. He did also get his fair share of applause, but for him it was obvious that the applause of only one person actually mattered. But on his second spot at singing, so successful was his first song, that he decided 'I'll give you another one', and so we were treated to something more. In recognition of the damage that our applause was causing, many of us restrained our applause, and I think the message was understood.

The barstaff was genuinely friendly, chatting when encouraged, always there for new patrons, and absolutely polite and charming no matter the request. This is a big and successful establishment with a variety of bars, and with several of them hosting different forms of live entertainment on this night, and it is obvious that the professionalism of the place extends to excellent staff training. I was surprised to find this in a place so obviously angled towards a younger and possibly unappreciative crowd, but I would go there again purely for the courtesy and friendliness of the staff.

You know how you sometimes go into a bar, the staff acts as though it owns the place, and goes out of its way to make you feel really welcome? And you know how sometimes the staff appears to own the place, but is intent on making you feel like . . .(full story on where2sing.com)

Read the rest of this exclusive Karaoke Gig Review, and find whether this karaoke gig is still running on Where2sing.com . . .

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