The A.K. “Singing Policy”

Photo: Naria Caamaño

Hi everyone, it’s Rachel. I’ve wanted to talk for some time about some issues regarding how Anti-Karaoke functions, so here I go.

The Anti begins at 10 pm and has a strict cut-off time of 1 am. That’s because 1 is the hour that the DJs begin their session. Until now, the club was opening its doors at 9:30 pm in order to give everyone ample time to arrive and get settled in before starting the show. However, because of the consistent absence of attendees at that hour, the club has decided to open its doors right at the hour the show is supposed to start, at 10 pm. I know that this is España and we do everything fashionably late, so the A.K. adapts as well 😉

Now I would love to offer 3 complete hours of Anti-Karaoke goodness to its faithful followers, but as we all know, without a crowd, there not only is no ambiance for festivities — after all, the energetic atmosphere of the A.K. is precisely what makes it the A.K. — but there’s also no show, because YOU are the show!

So we begin late, with few people, and then the same thing always happens: everyone else shows up at the same time. Late. All of a sudden we have a mountain of requests to fit in, and only an hour or an hour-and-a-half to do so. It’s imposible. People will go home disappointed that they didn’t get onstage. And it disappoints me most of all, because I want everyone to get the most that they can out of this amazing show. But the show has a schedule. The club doesn’t give us the entire night; it gives us till one A.M. No exceptions. Because there are other things programmed after we get done.

So what I’m asking everyone is to be conscious of these factors and, as much as you can, please try to get here as close to the opening hour as you can, at 10 pm. There are two motivations: one, to support the show in general with your presence and great energy. Two, to enable everyone who signs up within a reasonable time frame to sing.

Now on to another thing:

Every once in a while, someone asks me what the “policy” is to people getting onstage to sing. What’s the game, they want to know. Is there a strategy? Is the system rigged? It’s a fair question, and a good one, because I myself have spent years struggling against the bad vibes created by the old way of doing things, when there was someone else in the D.J. booth who decided the order of performers instead of me, who tended to favor the “regulars” over newcomers. The accusation that “the same people always sing” is a refrain that always annoyed me for its simplistic take on reality, but also because it contained a grain of truth.

For this reason, I am openly announcing here that the “policy”, the “game”, the “strategy” of getting onstage to sing is this: whoever signs up first. That’s it. Whoever comes and signs up, sings. If that person arrives at the very first moments of the show, when the doors open, and I call them onstage immediately, and they stay at the show all night and sign up more times, and it’s not one of those highly unusual occasions where the club is jam-packed with hundreds of people, half of whom want to sing, I’ll make sure they get onstage again.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I do play a bit with the order, according to the genre and energy of the particular song as well as the characteristics of the performer who plans to sing it(provided I’m privy to that information). I do have my tricks to constructing a fun and interesting arc to the show each night, in spite of having much uncertainty to work with, due to the amount of newcomers in every show. But this degree of risk is precisely what makes this show so unpredictably dangerous and fun!

What I don’t want to do is stagnate this show in a rancid policy of “V.I.P.’s” at the cost of those who have shown up in good faith, paid their admission fee, and signed up to sing. I refuse to do this out of respect for them, and in the very interest of the show.

In fact, one of the most exciting aspects of the A.K. is that there are always new people flowing into the ranks, and good of them eventually become regulars. This is how the A.K. stays fresh and alive! New faces, new generations, one after the other. [I still laugh when I think back to the initial complaints, back in the 1st era of A.K. Sidecar, complaining about the “new” generation of A.K. fans in the winter of 2007, and hearkening back to the “good old days” of summer 2006 😉 ]

To wrap it up: today the Anti-Karaoke, more than ever, is dedicated to the fair treatment of everyone who attends. This means that the show rewards those who support it: the people who are there, ready to rock from the moment the doors open, forming part of the audience, devoting as much energy to supporting those who are onstage as much as they do to getting the spotlight and the microphone themselves.

Look: everyone can and should do what they want, and I certainly understand that there are people who simply can’t arrive on time when the doors open, just as there are many people who make it to the A.K. when they can, but certainly are not able to every Thursday. I know that we’re in the shitter with this economic crisis and there are too many people without work or cash to spend on luxuries like nightlife. The A.K., Sidecar club, every other club in this country, and the business of authentic, quality, non-touristic nightlife in general are all struggling against the odds, for our own survival.

I’m only asking the folks who get down to the club around midnight, when the show is now rockin’ steady although the first hour took a while to get off the ground, when there is now a list of people who’ve all signed up pretty much at the same late hour and all are waiting to sing, not to approach the issue of singing with an attitude of entitlement when there is only one hour left of the show. Some people might make it onstage, some might not. I appreciate everyone’s attendance, no matter what hour they showed up. But out of respect for those who were there one or two hours before, I must prioritize them when the time comes to sing. That’s fair, right?

I hope that those of you who have been coming to the A.K. for years understand this point. Because no one knows better than you what has happened with this show. Some of you truly cherish it and wish for it to continue. So I know you will understand, and offer your support regarding these matters.

There are two types of antikaraokeans: those who come because they have a great time, because it’s their chance to stand out or hook up or whatever else it gets them; and those who come because they love what the show represents for themselves on a deeper level. I appreciate both types of attendees. But the second group is the one that supports this show, and the one that maintains it alive and kicking during all these years, since 2006.

So now I address the hard-core supporters of the A.K. Please help me get the word out about this show: the date of the week it’s on, and the club it’s at. “Thursdays at 10 pm, at Sidecar.” That’s all. It’s amazing the amount of people who still have the old information in their heads, who have the date and the club wrong.

Help me with these simple details. For example, if you’re on Facebook and you plan on attending, say so on your wall and put the link to the event. Speak about the show to your friends who’ve meant to come by but still, after all these years, never have. There are always yellow flyers on the counter next to the entrance to the club, as well as downstairs on the table with the song-lists and stickers. Take a small stack and hand them out to your friends or in a few shops. Grab some stickers and put them somewhere that someone else will see them. It’s very easy and it only takes a minute to do, but if just a few people do it, it’ll help a lot.

Thanks for getting through this long post, which at times, I realize, has sounded somewhat like something written by a grade-school teacher.

So now let’s go rock our asses off Thursday at 10 pm. See you soon, Barnaf*ckers!

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