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

Day 5

Last night I drove late into the night, wipers going all the time, the miles passing by steadily, and it was well after Midnight when I suddenly decided that I was tired and still a fair way from Melbourne. Signs along the edge of the road tried to convince me that, variously, my eyes were closing, that I was yawning, that something called a 'microsleep' would kill, and that a 'powernap' was a beautiful thing. Not that I was sleepy, but the very early morning hours are notoriously bad for all those driving monster trucks who are popping pills, so I wedged myself into a gap between two large trucks in a truckstop, reclined the seat, and slept.

Eight hours later, and well after nine o'clock in the morning, I awoke in bright sunshine to find the truckstop deserted.

The drive this morning is pleasant, traffic getting a little busier as the signs for Melbourne say I'm getting closer. The trip is rainy, and windy, and I look forward to getting in an out of Melbourne in the next couple of days. Melbourne and I don't do anything for each other - I dislike the weather (forget climate, Melbourne has 'weather', and I should know because I'm a Pom), and driving in Melbourne's slow streets bores me to death.

The outskirts of Melbourne brought consistent rain, the traffic slowed to a crawl, and we followed regularly stopping trams down a very long and narrow road. At one point I decided food was in order, and stepped from the car to find my shoes leaked (only in Melbourne does one seem to notice this). Happily, the road also contained a barrage of discount shoe shops, so it was 'shoes and food'.

I also had a good look at the W2S listings, found that two Monday night venues were within a few metres of each other, and I found an F1 Motel not far away. If neither of the two venues were good, I'd head on into the centre of Melbourne.

It's early evening, and I'm heading to Prahran where two karaoke venues are remarkably close to one another. I haven't confirmed them because they've both been confirmed quite recently by hosts who I imagine would have let me know if there were any change in the details. Bad move...

Chapel Street in Prahran is one of those typically Melbourne streets lined with shops, but for a Monday night this street seems particularly busy. Nevertheless I'm able to park on the side of the road very close to the street numbers that I'm seeking, and only a few paces up the road I see the Revolver shop which surely means that the Nightclub is very close. Yes, beside the shop is a wide staircase leading directly off the street, but the type of people ascending the stairs are hardly those for which I imagine karaoke would hold any attraction. Indeed, they are almost all totally dressed in black, for this seems to be a Goth nightclub - the W2S listing had said '$5 cover charge, prizes to be won, normal sized crowd (40-60)'. I doubt it!

I walk up the stairs, pretty sure that this is either going to be the first Goth Karaoke I have ever found, or that I'm going to be disappointed. I hope I'm going to be disappointed, and when I get to the top and see a hundred Goths ranged around a blackened room in varous poses and ask the surly bouncer about karaoke, he is almost amused (I am very amused) and suggests that this is hardly the place for karaoke. In fact, he has never heard of karaoke being run here. So I go back down the stairs and check that this is indeed the correct street number, and that the karaoke listed on the site can be in no other place. (The host was later to tell me 'Hi David - They canned us after two weeks....')

Never mind, just a few more metres up the street should be Strike On Chapel Bowling Bar, and indeed this is easy to find, and has wide stairs down from the street. It's a nice looking place, modern and smallish, but with an area just right of the foot of the stairs in which karaoke could be hold. But it isn't - the DJ in the console is definitely set up for music, not karaoke, and they's be enough room for about 20 people in the small area, and even those would need to be good friends (or would soon become so). I had previously received an email from 'Blaise Witnish and I am the marketing Manager of Strike Bowling Bar', but when I later email his to question his karaoke, I receive no answer.

There's not much else in the way of Karaoke listed for Mondays in Melbourne, so I call the only other possible - Charlton's Entertainment Centre off Little Bourke Street. Yes, they have karaoke every night, at a fairly indeterminate time (though 'what time you starting..?' is shouted in the background and the reply comes back 'soon, mate'), and I therefore head into the centre of town.

Now the name 'Charlton's Entertainment Centre' suggests to be a fun-filled and vibrant place full of youngsters, chrome and neon. But, following the address, I head down a narrow toilet named Coverlid Place, espy a battered sign for the entertainment centre, and pop into a cubicle posing as a lift, holding my breath until we reach the second floor and I'm in the rundown foyer of some dark and dingy Asian poolhall. But there's a bar, and I walk over there, get a beer for which a modest mortgage is required, and wander around the venue.

The place is pretty dark, there's a karaoke setup in the corner - looking rather battered but serviceable, music is playing, and down the stairs at one end of the room is a computer room with kids playing games, and some other rooms looking as though they may be small karaoke rooms. Back up the stairs and off in the other direction is the large pool hall, also dark and dingy. I sit in the very downmarket foyer, the only other occupants being a couple at another table who are talking loudly and don't look as though they're awaiting the karaoke. It's well after 11pm now, and there's no sign of karaoke - indeed, there's not even anyone there to sing. I have a second beer.

So this is the sum total of Melbourne karaoke on a Monday? I leave shortly afterwards.

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