I arrived around 7:15PM, Stephanie was there already. We ate gator. Around 8:30PM, karaoke started. By the time I left, before 11:00PM, I had sung seven songs:
"Honky Tonk Women" (Rolling Stones)
"River Deep, Mountain High" (Tina Turner)
"Hold The Line" (Toto)
"9 To 5" (Dolly Parton)
"Burnin' Love" (Elvis Presley)
"Whiskey Girl" (Toby Keith) (THAT'S RIGHT, YOU MISSED ME SINGING TOBY KEITH!)
"I Put A Spell On You" (Screamin' Jay Hawkins) (Intentionally blowing out my voice before I left)
Yes, seven songs in under 2.5 hours. That is an average of one song around every 20 minutes. Quite a far cry from the Thursday nights of yore at Blueberry Hill (like seven years ago) where you were lucky to get in two songs within a three-hour period. I mean, if Stephanie and I (and Bill, for a little while) hadn't been there, this one guy Skeet and the karaoke DJ and maybe the bartender gal woulda been the only people singing (toward the end as I was the only person remaining, another guy joined in with some Counting Crows). As it was, the DJ (Tim) had to pull the old "play a regular version of a song between karaoke tracks just to fill the time or keep someone from going twice in a row" trick here and there. I really think there was a point at which Stephanie turned in a song and before she had gotten back to her seat she was being called up there.
Anyway, the reasons to co-opt Rockin' Gators on Thursday nights are as follows:
I) Gator-meat menu items. They don't have a gator burger like I thought, and the brain sandwich is now off the menu, unfortunately. BUT they have a variety of gator offerings still (including gator pizza or just plain ol' gator-dipped-in-some-honey-mustard). It does NOT taste like chicken, but it does taste MORE like chicken than it does like, say, pork or beef. This shouldn't be surprising or even noteworthy to anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of animal biology, though. It's really good, in any case. The decor, also gator-themed, is pretty unstoppable as well.
II) Wireless microphones on karaoke. Why hasn't every karaoke place adopted this yet? I'm pretty sure the setup that Tim had was like some crappy $40 mic rig. It really wasn't that great of a wireless, but it sounded fine and allowed one to travel all over (and even outside) the joint with ease. They have a big screen TV showing the lyrics to the karaoke that essentially is viewable to the entire bar but NOT a person singing karaoke in the traditionally-designated spot. HOWEVER if you take advantage of the wirelessness, and do some walking around the bar, this much-larger monitor is fully availed to your karaoke purposes.
III) The largest catalogue of karaoke songs I've ever seen, by far. Seriously, they have a 3.5-inch-thick binder of songs, and then you realize that's just half the alphabet. There was a whole page (so, like, between 30 and 45?) of ROXETTE songs (let's have a contest, how many Roxette songs can YOU name without looking them up? I got TWO), large sections of "Jewish" and "Gospel" music, and even two Joe Tex songs for crying out loud. Del Shannon was represented by like 10 songs. The guy's setup was such that you didn't even need some fancy number, just the artist and song title names. If a song has ever appeared on commercial radio, you can pretty much guaranteed just walk in there, write it down on the slip, sign yer name, turn it in, and in (almost literally) no time you'll be singing it (if it's a Thursday). El Scorcho is a joke by comparison, I think their entire catalogue is like an inch and a half thick. I was pretty disappointed by their selection the other week, and pretty much figured Talayna's was the way to go.
IV) Like I said, we were a group of 2 and we essentially owned the joint (Fridays and Saturdays, when they also do karaoke, are a different story, but points I-III do not change on those days). Seven songs, I did! What if we got even the low-end of our average Tuesday Hideaway crowd numbers in there? It could be most righteous.
V) It's sort of a combination of III and IV, but I've sorta been making multiple points in several of the outline bullets above so I don't feel too bad about making this a separate one: It's basically a place you can go to shamelessly try out new karaoke cuts. Of the seven I did, three were ones I had never done before. It's easy to experiment and not feel too bad if you fail when you can get in a song every 20 minutes (or at a rate better than one song every two hours or whatever).
I even got a sweet (orange) koozie and (coral? Salmon?) T-Shirt from Rockin' Gators. I haven't written off the Hideaway or anything, but it's true that I stopped going 2 or 3 weeks ago, and I haven't been back since I stopped going (and I hadn't stopped going since I started back in early December). Al is a skinflint (which means a lot coming from me, I think) and Bob apparently refuses to learn any new (even if they're old) songs. I expect/intend that we may well hit the Hideaway again, perhaps multiple times, on the post-Squidgame circuit. But boy is Rockin' Gators lookin' fine on the Thursday night front. Maybe just 1-3 times a month. THINK ABOUT IT!