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Top 5 karaoke spots

Where to get your moment in the spotlight

Love to sing? Show your stuff at the China Clipper. Photo credit:

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Karaoke can be a divisive thing: it's implicitly designed to let the singer let off a little bit of steam, to picture themselves fronting a band, to get their moment in the spotlight without anyone judging them. Karaoke is a place for amateurs to imagine being professionals, and I believe this is a healthy thing to do. Of course, some people are lousy at singing, but that's not even beside the point - it is the point. Where else do you get to belt out a song, regardless of your talent? In your car and in the shower. Karaoke, ideally, is a shame-free environment in which to express yourself. With this in mind, here are the five best karaoke spots to seek out in the South Sound.

The Mix

Let's begin with the reader-voted winner of Best Karaoke in the Weekly Volcano's 2015 Best of Tacoma reader's poll. The Mix was also voted the Best Overall Queer Party in that same poll, giving due to a bar that regularly fills to the rafters, in no small part due to its karaoke. Recently celebrating their eighth anniversary, The Mix leads the pack of karaoke spots with seven days a week featuring amateur singers getting onstage to show their stuff. The stage itself is mighty small, but with cordless microphones, you're able to work your way through the bar with a song in your heart.

(Karaoke seven nights a week, 635 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.4327)

Puget Sound Pizza

If you were to exit The Mix and go around the corner, you'd encounter Puget Sound Pizza, which has long traded win for win with The Mix when readers vote for their favorite Tacoma karaoke. Karaoke-wise, PSP is marked by a diversity of singers, with each night lending its own flavor. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are great nights to show your personality and to try something new; Fridays are busier, with the renowned Rev. Colin and his majestic kilt and beard hosting the night; Saturdays have Nicky Martin holding down the fort, resplendent with her bow tie and ginger pompadour. A little more low-key than The Mix, PSP's a good spot for those looking to try more unusual songs.

(Karaoke Tuesday through Saturday, 317 S. 7th St., Tacoma, 253.383.4777)


For those looking for a unique experience, Jazzbones hosts Rockaraoke every Monday. In contrast to other karaoke experiences, Rockaraoke offers a live band to accompany your song. The trio is insanely talented, though, because of the nature of the band having to learn the songs, the selection is very minimal. Still, it's a setup that can instill fear and excitement, even in a seasoned karaoke pro like me.

(Karaoke Mondays, 2803 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169)

Thunderbird Lounge

The Thunderbird Lounge distinguishes itself by allowing smoking in the bar. Situated on the outer edge of Tacoma, near Puyallup, the Thunderbird shares space with a cigar lounge, which then allows the adjacent bar to permit smokers, which is quite a rarity these days. Various nights offer chances to win prizes, thanks to karaoke contests and opportunities to win the contents of a mystery box.

(Karaoke seven nights a week, 7121 Waller Rd. E., Tacoma, 253.405.4380)

China Clipper

This Olympia karaoke spot is a classic. Look up footage of Mount Eerie frontman Phil Elverum singing Lil Wayne at the China Clipper, because it's absolutely delightful. One of the unique aspects of this joint is the host's policy: for every dollar you tip him, you move up one spot in the karaoke rotation. It's great if you have a little money and a perverse desire to sing. The China Clipper is conveniently located in a cluster of great bars in downtown Olympia.

(Karaoke seven nights a week, 402 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360.943.6300)

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