Westport’s new Offkey Karaoke Lounge & Suites is designed to take the “performance anxiety” out of karaoke.
Karaoke venues typically have the amateur singers stand on a stage as they follow the lyrics and sing along to prerecorded popular music.
But at Offkey, customers can sing their hearts out in one of five private karaoke party rooms. Or they can head to the main bar where microphones are passed around the crowd.
Either way, if they hit a wrong note or two, they’re not stuck in the spotlight on stage. They can just hand off the microphone to the next singer or an Offkey employee.
The new venue is next to the new Bridger’s Bottle Shop/Preservation Market and has the same owners — Eric Flanagan, Aaron Beatty and Philip Thies. The partners took over a 9,000-square-foot space at 510 Westport Road that formerly housed America’s Pub and spent a year redeveloping the corner for the new businesses.
On Saturday, 10 friends started a bachelorette party at 11 a.m. that didn’t wrap up until about 1 a.m. Sunday. They hit several of the metro’s top wine spots — Swirl Wine Bar & Shoppe in the Northland, Cellar & Loft in the River Market, an area vineyard and more. But for karaoke, they chose Westport’s Offkey, which was having its grand opening weekend.
“You aren’t humiliated in front of everyone else,” the women said.
“We wanted to do something fun together, something interactive,” said Kendra Schultz, 25, of Springfield. “A lot of people want to do karaoke but they are nervous to perform in front of others. This is such a neat idea — the private rooms, the disco lights, your own server. We absolutely loved it.”
The cost for the rooms at prime time (after 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday) is $30 for six people or fewer; $40 for 7 to 10 people; or $50 for 11 or more. It is cheaper on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Along with English, Offkey offers karaoke in nine other languages. Customers also can see — but not hear — the private party rooms by a video monitor at the hostess stand.
The Offkey menu includes signature shots and cocktails, sake, beer and wine. Customers also can order food and drink items from Bridger’s Bottle Shop/Preservation Market.
The owners also plan to add a VIP karaoke room holding up to 50 people by the holidays.
“The one thing I love about it — you can’t plan crazy. Crazy just happens,” Thies said. “At the main bar it might be the worst singer you’ve ever heard next to you, or someone who blows you away.”
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