photo by Angelina Aragon

’Raoke Dokie

Written by Craig Outhier Category: Lifestyle Issue: August 2018
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Attention, amateur warblers: A new wave of Valley karaoke bars is singing your tune.

The art and business of karaoke has come a long way since the early 1980s, when the first Valley entrepreneur – we’re speculating here – showed up at a Downtown bar with some text-generating video equipment and a box of Neil Diamond CDs. In contrast, today’s karaoke fan has a multitude of genres, price-points and performance platforms from which to choose, including the Valley’s newest, swankiest karaoke palace: Blind Dragon in Old Town Scottsdale, an 8,500-square-foot nightclub where patrons can hog the mic until last call.

Multicultural Karaoke
Rosie McCaffrey’s
Want to mentally globe-trot? Come to this Irish bar (that used to be a German restaurant) on Wednesday night and enjoy a $3-off Scottish whiskey (we recommend the 12-year Balvenie, only $7), while the chica in the next booth belts out “Como La Flor.” Every Tuesday and Wednesday, the beloved pub becomes Camelback’s karaoke haunt of choice, with a broad, bilingual playlist.
906 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix

Aspirational Karaoke
Blind Dragon (pictured above)
Six private rooms, each with a distinct theme (example: the Veuve Cliquot Champagne room), sit off the main lounge at this lavish, TAO-esque nightclub. Known as “karaoke boxes” in Asia, the private-room model allows patrons to select and moderate their own music, in this case with iPad-style tablets. After your alone time is up (room rates start at $100 for two hours), join the party in the lounge, where Shanghai lanterns and Buddha art effects help inform the exotic ambiance.
7419 E. Indian Plz., Scottsdale

Trans-Positive Karaoke
Sing Your Face Off! at Crescent Ballroom
Hosted by drag queen Pandora Destrange, this weekly karaoke takeover at Crescent – which runs from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. if it doesn’t conflict with a show – offers Downtown’s most rambunctious open-mic experience. It can also be cruelly exacting: For a small fee, hostile audience members can banish underperforming singers from the stage with the summary strike of a gong. The blood money is donated to charity.
308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix

Hipster Karaoke
Tokyo Tonic
Adjacent mothership Geisha A Go Go pioneered the karaoke box concept in the Valley, but this high-energy offshoot brings the open-audience format back to the Old Town property. It’s essentially a micro-lounge, with a small row of booths, a stage and a bar – the holy troika of vicarious rock-star thrills.
7140 E. Sixth Ave., Scottsdale