You probably already know that "karaoke" is Japanese slang that shakes out to "empty orchestra” in translation. But really, the participatory NYC nightlife singalong staple should be called some variation of "Tawagoto to shite ōgoe de, tokiniha waruidesu," which loosely translates to, "loud as shit and sometimes bad," -- or "we are different, we laugh a lot and dance" (depending on whether you believe me or Google Translate).
In either form, the phrase adequately captures the true spirit of what karaoke means to New Yorkers. It’s a hoot-and-a-half whether you’re in a dark room the size of a closet with 10 of your closest friends, or on a pseudo-stage surrounded by 100 friends you haven’t met yet. You can join jams in Chinatown walk-ups, beneath bougie french bistros, and even in Staten Island.
Karaoke, at least in New York, isn't the realization of an empty orchestra. It's a night (or in some cases, a day) of unbridled fun. And these 11 venues are the absolute best places to experience the joys of what I now like to refer to as "Tawagoto to shite ōgoe de, tokiniha waruidesu."