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From the Where2sing.com stories:
The Great Karaoke Escape 2004/05

Day 1:

You know how it starts - you're wondering along to your favourite Thursday karaoke haunt (in my case, Sydney's Covent Garden Hotel), and you get to thinking - 'what if I just kept going?'

Brisbane was my home for many years, but since coming to Sydney and discovering the beautiful Darling Harbour area, I had lived just behind the Star City casino - making the walk into town a really pleasant one along the edge of Darling Harbour and through to Chinatown. Chinatown is just a great place in which to eat, or even just to wander through, and it was a bonus to find that the Covent Garden Hotel - right at the end of the Chinatown Mall, runs karaoke four nights a week.

It's a regular night tonight at the Covent, except that it's rather busier than normal - but that may be due to all the publicity from the Today Tonight segment on karaoke that aired earlier in the week. Jimmy the host is on the stage, but Mark the techie is giving it a rest and is up at the bar and happy to chat. Lauchlin, the Covent's young and excellent Elvis singer is the stand-in techie, and doing a great job. And, as I look around, I get to thinking that there must be karaoke pubs like this all over Australia - and people like me wandering along to enjoy a song or two, and a beer or two.

I could go on to Paddy Maguires over the road, yes - seems like a good idea, and I do. It's generally a bit of a younger crowd here, and as I walk up to the door, a new 'bouncer' stands squarely in my way and states 'Can I help you?'. I give him as much of a disdainful look as I can for being an idiot, and after a couple of seconds of silence his stupidity dawns on him, and he moves aside. 'Thank you' I reward him, but inside the youthful crowd is at its youthful worst, pushing, shoving, and some dreadful noises on stage. I keep walking.

Back to the Covent? No, there's the Lansdowne up the road, so I jump in a cab and head there. I've done this run of three pubs in a row on a couple of previous occasions, and sometimes without finding one with the sort of crowd I'm seeking. The Lansdown in a gawdy pub but with decent sound and often an interesting crowd, but it's quiet tonight - but still a number of singers. Maybe it'll improve, so I get a beer, put my name down for a song, sit at the back in the comfortable (but battle-scarred) lounge chair, and it's only a very short wait to sing. It's ok - the big stage is nice, the sound is decent, but it's not once of those vibrant nights, and after the one song, I leave.

Back to the Covent? The only other option is Paddy Maguires at Star City, across the road from home, but the hosting is getting more painful there by the week, so why bother? It's back to the Covent, and the regular faces. I reviewed the COvent some months ago, and it hasn't changed - it's still a pleasant place in which to fall across both regulars and newcomers, both types which are normally happy to chat. Singers here are often rewarded with the huge applause of an alcohol-fuelled crowd, and although the sound can be a bit variable, it's just one of those must-sing places in Sydney. It's a pleasant night, I chat to Sue who is singing so well these days, stand and watch a few great singers and many more who aren't, and a couple of hours pass easily. Then I wander home.

What was I looking for tonight, and why the restless wandering? It was good to see some of the same old faces in the Covent Garden, and a shame that the other two places weren't so much fun, but I just get to feeling that there must be a heap more places out there - out there somewhere else in Australia.

Read more singers' stories, and write your own karaoke story, on Where2sing.com . . .

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