Friday, October 1, 2010

Mandarin Gate

So it's Tuesday night and my first opportunity to take Mr. E out since I decided to head down this path. There are two places that I have already done a lot of karaoke during my "Karaoke is a great thing to do with a huge group of friends as a security blanket" phase- Bush Garden and Mandarin Gate. Being my first night, I had done a little bit of research about who has karaoke when and I can now inform you that Tuesday is the night that Karaoke DJ's (or KJ's as I will refer to them from here on out) like to stay at home watching TV and drinking cocoa. Since I didn't want to head downtown or up capitol hill my options were severely limited. Mandarin Gate was the easy way out of this and since I still had the whole song book to pick from I knew this was going to be a very low impact entry to the tour.

There were five other people in the place when I came in. I grabbed a few request slips on my way to the bar, ordered a ginger ale, and surveyed the room to see what I was working with. As I was writing down my first selection (Eminem's "The Way I Am") the KJ gestured towards me and announced "Looks like tonight is about to get interesting!".

And so it was.

The next person up to sing was absolutely stunning. He was like a cross between BB King and Jimi Hendrix three-quarters of the way through the movie Cast Away and that was before he even opened up his mouth. He did a haunting version of House of the Rising Sun and later he treated us to 99 Problems but a Bitch Ain't One (Entertaining side note- I went to google that phrase to see if it was the actual song title and didn't realize our google page was on "image search" I was very surprised to find that the majority of the pictures that showed up were of OJ Simpson).

The barmaid asked if she knew me from somewhere. I asked her if she'd forget a face like this.

My name got called pretty quick so I put on my "Yeah, I'm a white girl in a fake mustache AND I can (sort of) rap" face and didn't do a half-ass job of it. I noticed some ladies had shown up one or two at a time and were sitting around perusing the books. Feeling a little girl-powery I decided to channel my friend Beth and sing "So What" by Pink. As I was handing my paper to the KJ he couldn't resist asking what I was up to. "Are you hiding from your ex or spying on them?" I didn't have a smart answer for that so I just said "I like to sing?". He wanted to know what the mustache was about so I told him it makes me sound better and headed back to the bar.

Nobody really talked to me at Mandarin Gate but a lot of people smiled and after I sang my second song I got a couple you-go-girls and a round of applause. I felt okay about how it had gone but I didn't really feel like I had done a show-stopper and the rotation was 15 minutes at most so I decided to go for an extra song and picked Sleep To Dream by Fiona Apple.

That was a show-stopper. Pretty much everyone stopped talking for a few minutes to let me have my moment. It was pretty special.

I wasn't expecting to have a wild and crazy night and I didn't but I had grabbed a wild and crazy idea and run with it. I had taken the first step and, in doing so, intentionally headed down a path that was distinctly out of my comfort zone and general realm of experience. There was a story on NPR today about why Habits are a Curse and I can totally relate. Doing things that are completely out of your norm is exhilarating.

I felt accomplished and ready for bed. As I walked out some people said goodnight, once I was out the door some guy having a smoke stopped me and asked me who the real me was. I said "Who's asking?". So he told me a little about himself, his name, where he worked, something funny that happened to him that day. I wasn't ready to take off the glasses and mustache but I did tell him my name was Kat and just said the disguise helped me feel more confident. He said he thought it was unfortunate that I didn't feel confident enough to just go up on stage as myself and sing. It wasn't like I was going to stand here and tell my life story to the drunk guy outside Mandarin Gate for 20 minutes so I shrugged and said "If I was we probably wouldn't be having this conversation." He asked if he could give me a hug and then asked if I was trying to get produced. Not really knowing what that was supposed to mean I just laughed and headed to my car.

Three songs in less than 90 minutes, a fairly decent song selection, and a really comfortable interior make the mandarin gate a great place to go sing karaoke if you're not looking for a big audience and like an eclectic mix of song choices.

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