All of a sudden there was silence. Conversations ended abruptly, the staff stopped serving tables. What could have possibly happened in that very fine establishment close to the waterfront?
It may not sound logic at first sight but that silence was due to a rather loud voice; the words silence and loud not normally go together very well. Yet on that evening they did just that, synergy. ‘Loud’, as in clearly audible, a true amateur pop star’s voice, but not as in ‘too much noise’!
A young lady in her early twenties who as a matter of fact is part of my wider Turkish family had picked up the microphone, asked a friendly member of staff to play a particular tune and off she went, vocalist wise. It was a Turkish song, a wonderful ballad about love and trust and loss and hope and despair yet in the end once again only about that magic four letter-word love.
It was a scene out of a movie, only better. Everyone listened in, looked at her performing her choice of music. Which brings me to the point: today’s article is about Karaoke. Yes, that is right: Karaoke.
I must admit and after all those years (nearly a decade and a half by now and counting) of close contacts with all things Turkey and Turkish I never had written about that so famous leisure pursuit before. Come to think of it many readers would probably have raised an eyebrow – or two – wondering what is newsworthy about such a purely fun and entertainment topic; others would at least have discreetly inquired about whether the author of that article perhaps had had a little bit of too much southern Aegean sunshine before eventually putting pen to paper. So this column should better be good.
Cards on the table: I was most definitely in that same group of naysayers with regards to ever stepping into a place where ‘Karaoke Tonight’ is advertised outside. I thought it is a bit tacky to use diplomatic wording. Then I had the chance of a lifetime and traveled to a far-off destination, Taiwan to be precise. Looking for a nice place to spend my evening with a fellow European traveling companion and not being able to read or understand Chinese of course, we looked here and there until we stood in front of a huge flashing light which read Karaoke, paired with some Chinese words either side. Maybe we were exhausted after such a long flight and it was our first night, or so much more courageous than back home – we went in.
Going to that club was such a great, memorable affair. At once did the lyrics sung by mostly younger locals enchant us, songs we did not understand but for sure with a deeper meaning. Anyone who ever listened to Chinese pop or love songs, respectively, knows what I refer to. Soft music, sweet voices even if performed by a male participant, no heavy metal for sure! Almost everyone in the room took to the floor at some point during the night.
It changed my perception for good. Karaoke only for older folk – not in Taipei! Karaoke out of fashion? The opposite was true – full house. Same songs everywhere all around the world, think of Dancing Queen but nothing much else? Wrong again.
The rest is Karaoke history so to speak. More encounters with the video prompter and the microphone followed in a fair number of locations. Hence when my family had relocated to Turkey it did not come as a surprise at all that I went to many a fine establishment offering Karaoke, too.
And what truly fascinates me is that here – where we all happily live together with our so welcoming Turkish hosts and neighbors – we share the joy of singing together, too. On that night English songs were performed as well as Turkish ballads. Applause all evening long yet with that extra-long united chorus of ‘one more, please’ addressed to our proud family member. She happily obliged.
So writing about a leisure pursuit is newsworthy indeed as long as it fits the bill, in our case the issue of how new foreign arrivals can mix and mingle with our long-time international residents and above all else with the Turkish community who is as keen on spending fun-filled quality time in the good company of like-minded others than we are.
We must be thankful for the Japanese who came up with the idea of inviting people who either go alone or in a group to perform songs accompanied by a playback tape with words shown in front of them by means of a small screen, or even computer. Karaoke since long is a global phenomenon. Should you have done it before, perfect! Are you considering a first stepping out? Super. Are you like me a (previous or current) naysayer? Well, go just this once, only one time. You might just as well become a regular much faster than you had ever expected. Enjoy; our resort offers many fantastic venues indeed.