Autumn Bolton’s nights out usually start exactly the same way: with her friends and a karaoke machine.
The sport business graduate student said even after they’ve left her apartment, she and her friends look out for a karaoke bar in the city before returning home to her own machine for even more singing.
“Mostly, I’m the one who only ever really does karaoke,” Bolton said. “My friends always just sort of laugh at me while I do it, but I just enjoy doing it. I don’t mind getting up in front of people and doing it. I think it’s a lot of fun.”
Bolton and other Temple students let loose with karaoke on Tuesdays at bars around campus like Draught Horse Pub & Grill and Maxi’s Pizza, Subs & Bar. Karaoke has become a staple entertainment source for the musically-inclined members of the student body.
Maxi’s hosts karaoke on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m., one of the restaurant’s busiest nights, said employee Elaina Graca.
“Karaoke is one of those fun things that drunk people love to do,” she said. “They like to get up in front of a ton of people and belt out songs that they love.”
The singers’ excitement makes working karaoke nights fun, Graca added. She enjoys seeing the regulars’ faces and hearing familiar songs.
“There’s something fun about getting up in front of a bunch of people and just messing around and doing something lighthearted like singing, and knowing that you’re probably not going to be the best singer and it’s going to be funny,” she said.
Junior criminal justice major Julissa Lengua and her friends have attended every karaoke night for the past two months at the Draught Horse. They’ve performed songs like “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and “Gotta Go My Own Way” from the Disney Channel original movie “High School Musical 2.”
Lengua never shies away from pulling her friends on stage and having them sing as a group, she said.
“I always drag everyone to come up there and sing one good song because ‘why not?’” she said. “We’re making memories here.”
Karaoke has always been part of junior biology major Raina Seonmi So’s life. As Seonmi So grew up in South Korea, karaoke was a way to for she and her family to celebrate. They often rented out a private room during holidays, she said.
“We are a very humbled tribe,” Seonmi So added. “It’s not a weird place to cry or like yell. We’re super hype no matter what, because it is a place for stress relief.”
Developed in Japan in the 1970s, karaoke remains popular and ingrained in many Asian cultures as a symbol of family and friendship.
Many bars in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, like Yakitori Boy, Tango and Canton 11 Restaurant offer private rooms where groups can sing without the stress of public performances.
Tuesday night Draught Horse DJ Matt Krause, whose stage name is Dablz, said the best part of karaoke nights is seeing people laugh and have a good time.
“I find that with the karaoke, once you get that first couple of people singing, then more people will sing and it’ll loosen up the mood and you see people laughing,” Krause said. “If someone’s a bad singer, you’ll see others be like, ‘What the f— is going on?’”
Many student performers find the best part of karaoke to be belting out classic songs from their youth.
“We all have our favorite songs, and my favorite song to do is ‘Follow Me’ by Uncle Kracker, or any old song by Blink-182,” Bolton said. “It gets everyone up on their feet and happy and ready to have a good night.”