Brief history of karaoke (and where to do it)


Imagine the scene. A darkly lit bar with someone who has had a little too much to drink belting out the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” on stage. Who would subject themselves to such embarrassment in front of complete and total strangers?

Karaoke is one of America’s favorite pastimes, but the activity actually started in Asia.

The word “karaoke” stems from the Japanese words “karappo,” meaning “empty,” and “okesutura,” meaning “orchestra,” combining to make the phrase “empty orchestra.”

While the origins of karaoke are debated, Daisuke Inoue is credited as its inventor. After not being able to read a note of music, he became a drummer because he said that all you had to do was hit them. Then, Inoue and six of his co-workers started playing in the dives of Kobe, Japan.

As his boss came to love Inoue’s drum solos, he asked him to play the drums for him on an overnight trip. Unable to leave his job, Inoue gave his boss a tape of his drumming, which he would be able to sing over.

Inoue thought that if company presidents wanted to do this, wouldn’t the everyday man? Thus, karaoke was born. Soon after, karaoke became popular in East and Southeast Asia and spread overseas. It is now a popular icebreaker in all corners of the world.

Inoue barely made any money off of his discovery, and many people in his hometown don’t even know who he is. He said that as its creator, he neglected it and let big companies and businesses run the newly found industry.

But he did change the way that people around the world socialize. In preparation for this post, I asked almost everyone I knew if they had sung at a karaoke night, and the overwhelming response was “yes.” Karaoke is such a commonly shared experience, no wonder it grew in so popular so quickly.

Maybe this new age of technology will deter the popularity of singing karaoke in public places, especially with the rise of gaming consoles. However, if you want to test out the your skills in the vocal department, check out this list below for weekly karaoke nights in Gainesville.

High Dive: every Monday night. The bar opens at 6 p.m., and there’s free beer until 10 p.m. 210 Southwest 2 Ave.

Boca Fiesta: on select Monday nights. In The Back Yard Bar, karaoke starts at 9 p.m. 232 Southeast 1 St.

Mars Pub and Arcade: every Tuesday night. Sign in starts at 8:30 p.m. in the arcade. 239 W. University Ave.

Loosey’s: every Saturday night. From 9 p.m. until 2 a.m., karaoke is hosted by DJ Wolfman Kelly. 101 SW 1 Ave.

Alley Katz: every Saturday night. With bowling and drink offers, the music starts at 9 p.m. 3705 SW 42 Ave.


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