VIP or Nah?

Liam Mooney - July 11, 2016

Did you know the boys are back in town?

Until last Friday night, I didn’t. Cue VIP Karaoke; which upon hearing about, I thought was a pretty cool rename to auditions for local talent show contests in the Ottawa region. Following this thought, my colleagues and I would double as contestants and judges. We would have to take turns displaying and scrutinizing our talent. Or lack of talent. Great.

Turns out I was wrong.

This was different. It was Korean-style karaoke. Sure enough, it promised vocal catharsis (any catharsis) as karaoke was made for, but with people of your choosing in attendance, and behind closed doors. In this case, it was co-workers. As a major stakeholder in introversion, this was heaven for me in a 10 by 12 room. Portable heaven.

As one co-worker led the way with drinks, I wasn’t so sure. These people were more chill at work. When another colleague had told me that people from work would be in there he said it would be “just the squad,” but he’d said it casually and you gotta watch out for such stuff sometimes. He probably meant everyone—maybe their pets too?—all suited up. For Karaoke. It’s possible.

We pushed against door #7, struggling to open it. Remember those Scooby-Doo scenes? With doors and a hallway? That’s what this place looked like. Only God knows what goes on behind all of these soundproof doors. For all I knew, the whole place was crowded. Crowded in portions. Crowd cubicles. Talk about crowd control. The floorboards vibrated. When we finally succeeded, I wasn’t ready for the blast that followed.

The sound pulled us inside and snapped the door shut. I counted ten figures bobbing, hidden in dim lights. One person stood on a stage, clutching a mic, in charge of a song, and everyone sang along. Before long, I relaxed, there would be no judging here, just pure fun!

But again I was wrong.

Because there was judging. By a machine. After each song, the karaoke deck would reel out figures up to a hundred, grading our combined effort. Oh wow. That was cool. We went on, becoming Bowie, Thin Lizzy, Céline Dion, and Bruce Springsteen many times over, as much as we wanted, and soon I was at complete ease. Sort of.

The "stage" at VIP Karaoke

The “Stage” by Emma Cochrane


The group sang ABBA’s ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!’ (a song which should enter the Karaoke Hall of Fame worldwide), while I chewed and swallowed most of the lyrics to the thousands of other tracks I didn’t know. I didn’t mind too much. I just wanted to be a part of the fray. Eventually I got pumped too, so I keyed in a couple of songs. ‘Unbelievable’ by Craig David, was one of them. The feedback and support? Epic! Yay!

A couple of weeks back, we had a company retreat. It was a more mellow, reclusive kinda deal for a few days. Good stuff. Yeah well, VIP Karaoke last Friday night was the real ‘re-treat.’ It was a well-timed, high-energy cool-off, and as trivial as it seemed, a bonding session. VIP Karaoke with Jackpine showed me what I see all day here in the office, even if in disorganized bursts: inclusive action, and a focused passion to create.

If these humans want to create, you’d better let ‘em.