Japanese cultural traditions have generally had a good run on the Russian market. In most Russian towns you would be hard pushed to find a restaurant or café that doesn’t sell sushi.
But Japan’s second major cultural export, karaoke, is also booming in the country. While the trend for home karaoke sets popular a decade ago may be fading, karaoke bars in the capital are thriving.
Karaoke lovers have two options when it comes to showing off their vocal skills in public: they can wait their turn for a song in a public karaoke hall, or they can book a private room with friends.
Karaoke halls usually charge a fairly high entrance fee, but once inside the customer can sing an unlimited number of songs for free. Guests are sat at tables and each table is allowed to sing two or three songs in turn.
The Krik (Scream) karaoke bar at Strastnoy Bulvar charges 1,000 rubles ($34) per person for entrance Tuesday to Saturday and a 2,000 ruble ($68) deposit on Sundays and Mondays.
The major downside of going to a karaoke hall is that you have to listen to complete strangers attempting to sing before your turn comes around. The management of Who is Who club at Mayakovskaya found a simple solution to this problem – by denying singers who lack decent vocal skills access to the microphone.
VIP rooms are a good option for parties and large groups of friends
VIP rooms are a good option for parties and big groups of friends. The fairly authentic An Sun and Yan Pen bars at Sukharevskaya and Kitai Gorod charge 700 rubles ($24) per hour for a 6-8 person room and 1,700 rubles ($58) per hour for a 20- 25 person VIP lounge.
Upmarket GQ bar and IndaBar, both owned by famous restaurateur Arkady Novikov, have several karaoke rooms which should be booked in advance. IndaBar at Arbatskaya charges a 25,000 ruble ($825) non-returnable deposit per room which is taken off the bar bill, while songs are free of charge. Krik club’s VIP room is a comparatively cheap1,500 rubles ($51) per hour.
While Russian songs do feature fairly prominently on the lists of most Moscow karaoke clubs, English is the language of choice for most amateur singers.
“There are far more English songs on our playlists than Russian songs, partly because karaoke appeared in the West before it came to Russia,” said Grigory Goryachev, creative director at the Karaoke Boom club. “We have some 64,000 English-language songs.
The bar at Novoslobodskaya charges 500 rubles ($17) entrance fee or a non-returnable deposit (spend at the bar) of 2000 rubles ($68) per person. At weekends both the 500 ruble fee and a 1500 ruble ($51) deposit are required.
For a small additional fee, most karaoke clubs also offer to record the songs performed by you. The price for this service ranges from 300 rubles ($10) to 800 rubles ($27), depending on the location.
Moscow karaoke bars:
46 Novoslobodskaya Ulitsa
Who is Who,
15A Oruzheiny Pereulok
24 Novy Arbat
5 Balchug street
16 Strastnoy Bulvar
9 Ascheulov Pereulok
3/7 Pokrovka Ulitsa
Read other articles of the print issue “The Moscow News #70”