With the increasing popularity of video games like Rock Band, one worries about the state of the nation's karaoke bars. One of the most beloved singing haunts around, the Courtside in Inman Square, doesn't seem to be in any danger, however - though it's only a matter of time before they develop waitresses for the Xbox.
The Courtside is separated into two rooms: business in front, party in the back - a sort of mullet of neighborhood bars. One room is a traditional sports pub setup. The other is furnished in a basement birthday party chic with drop tile ceilings, well-worn carpets, and dangling Christmas lights. In other words it's karaoke nirvana - polish and sheen being the natural adversaries of the ramshackle karaoke spirit.
The room was packed and boisterous on a recent Thursday when we joined a group of regular-going friends. One, just back from a year in Italy, made this his first stop. A group of girls had just finished squawking their way through "Sweet Caroline."
"Karaoke was made for young women," owner John Alberts said the next day on the phone. "They love to sing, like they love to dance at weddings." And we're so thankful for that.
A romance-minded crooner eased his way into an earnest Justin Timberlake groove while rival kickball gangs fresh from a game carried on alongside drunk college kids sweating beer and enacting bizarre mating rituals.
Before long a biker chick in short-shorts mangled a Guns N' Roses song. We contemplated singing a song and trying to enjoy karaoke (or anything) for once in our lives. Instead we sipped our beer and let waves of other people's giddy excitement wash over us and, for a while anyway, reveled in the contact high.
The Courtside, 291 Cambridge St., Cambridge. 617-547-4374. courtsidekaraoke.com