Where’s a good bar to sing karaoke in Canberra? If I had a dollar for every time I’d been asked that question, I’d have five dollars. Well ask no more, my fellow songsters, that question has now been answered. Read on, it’s Canberra’s ultimate karaoke guide.
Transit Bar, City
Tuesdays from 8 pm
The Transit Bar was already more than half full when I arrived at the scene at 10 pm. By 10.30 it was standing room only, by 11 the punters were two deep at the bar and the bouncer had assumed a suitably menacing pose at the entrance. The place was packed and pumping.
Apparently I had chosen the night of a competition final where the winner would take home $1,000, so I was treated to a couple of fine performances. No Eagles or Bublé on this line-up though. With the participants predominately a crowd of under 30s and the rest of them under 25, it was mostly contemporary song choice. Being one of the half dozen or so “over 30s” who were clearly out of place, I struggled to recognise the tunes. But it all sounded pretty good and the energy was high.
The host was not exactly the entertaining type. For a while there, it wasn’t apparent there was a host. Although to be fair, with the competition in full swing, it probably wasn’t necessary to rally the crowd as they were already engaged in the proceedings. Still, as most of my night was spent on tippy-toe trying to catch a glimpse of the stage, a more genial host would have been helpful.
Transit runs karaoke competitions a couple of times a year, so if you’re a singing star, follow them on Facebook for the next round of heats. And in the meantime, if you’re young and like a noisy, crowded bar with high energy, then shimmy down any old Tuesday and grab the microphone.
The Irish Club, Weston
Fridays from 8.30 pm
I wandered into the Irish Club one freezing Friday night thinking I had stumbled through a vortex and into the Dubbo RSL in 1986. The dank, heavy scent of beer, the ring-a-ding of pokies, the disco ball, the workers’ bar. Eerily, people were wearing head-bands, leg-warmers and shoulder-pads and someone was singing Olivia Newton-John’s Physical. Thankfully, these last things were explained by the fact that it was a special 1980s karaoke party.
The place was crowded and there was a fun, happy vibe. Host Kirsten was bright, bubbly and a bodacious singer, ready to assist with back-up support for strugglers. The abundant karaokers were obviously seasoned locals and a nice blend of the polished and the raw and everything in between. No matter the level of vocal prowess, all singers were applauded and supported with equal gusto.
There were a few technical glitches and the sound system could do with an update but this is another good place to cut your karaoke teeth. This karaoke-loving crowd will wrap you in a warm hug of acceptance and make even the most humble screecher feel like a rock-star for 3 minutes.
The Durham, Kingston
Check with venue
There were a dozen or so drinkers in The Durham on my arrival at 10 pm one particularly frosty Wednesday evening. A mix of out-of-towners, a few hardened locals and oddly, a couple of tables of drinkers oblivious to the onstage antics. Our young host, Steven, doubled as bartender so there were a few gaps here and there while he waited tables. But this informality lent itself to the evening and didn’t appear to dampen the audience spirits. Steven also tested his own mighty fine vocals from time to time when the energy lapsed.
There was very little waiting for your number to come up. By the time I’d chosen my song and headed back to my seat, my name had been called. This gave everyone the opportunity to sing several times during the night which in some cases, wasn’t entirely a good thing. The pick of the night was a rousing rendition of New York, New York from a visiting New Yorker, and a medley of hits from the 70s and 80s from a trio of inebriated public servants from Melbourne.
The intimacy of the space and the encouragement from fellow singers brought we disparate individuals together, so by the end of the night, we felt like one big happy family. Lots of singalong support from the audience and a feel good vibe. So if you’re looking to belt out a few tunes without judgement, The Durham is a forgiving and very laid-back space.
Murrumbidgee Country Club
The Murrumbidgee Country Club hosts karaoke just a few times throughout the year. We have it on good authority through the underground karaoke network that it is a corker of a night!
PJ O’Reilly’s, Tuggeranong
Thursdays from 8.30 pm
PJ O’Reilly’s Tuggeranong hosts a karaoke party every Thursday night from 8.30pm. We haven’t tried it out, but let us know your what your experience is like.
Polit Bar, Manuka
Polit Bar has karaoke facilities and can accommodate groups for karaoke parties on request.
Private karaoke rooms
Love karaoke but not a fan of performing in front of total strangers? We get it – and so do the owners of Canberra’s private karaoke venues. Grab some friends, make a booking and enjoy an hour – or more – singing your hearts out.
Cut the lights, queue the tunes and grab the mic – 88mph is bringing the 80’s back. Its three private karaoke rooms are “decked out with comfy benches, awesome sound systems and full table service.” A 90-minute karaoke session for up to ten people will set you back $130, with party packages available.
K Bar Karaoke, Belconnen
Sign along in Mandarin, Cantonese, English, Japanese or Korean in one of K Bar’s 12 private karaoke rooms. Each room of the Belconnen venue is equipped with LED lighting and an on-demand karaoke system. Prices start at $40 per hour for four people.
Soundbox Karaoke & Bar, Dickson
Soundbox in Dickson has eight private themed karaoke rooms. A one-hour karaoke session for up to eight people costs $50, with happy hour deals Sunday to Thursday between 1 pm and 10 pm.
This post was updated for currency in June 2019.