BAR CRAWLER: Dashing through choice karaoke dens
The song list was extensive but lacked my planned-on Don McLean classic — which seemed out-of-place anyway amid such a demure crowd. Billy Joel's "Entertainer" popped into my head because it's light and mercifully fast. With hardly a wait, I was twanging, left leg trembling, a good half-octave below where my voice stops sounding like a woman's and starts sounding like the Marlboro Man's. I got a rush of mercy applause and swept my friends out the door.
1825A Post, SF. (415) 567-5866. www.festalounge.com
More than a week passed, and I was ready to go it alone. For a low-key bar with a neighborhood vibe, 500 Club is perfect. Karaoke Sundays start when the afternoon light is still streaming through large windows and a Tecate on the crowded benches feels just right. Audience participation — including some friendly heckling — is big here, and the singers heckle right back. Be warned: the front row, which is nearly every seat in the joint, is something akin to Sea World's splash zone. You may be personally serenaded, implored to sing backup, or even humped a bit — all in good fun.
500 Guerrero, SF. (415) 861-2500. www.500clubsf.com
Pandora begs a reference to the overstuffed box, and it's appropriate: this bar has it all — in a good way. Bins brim with cymbals, tambourines, silly hats, and other props. Candy Land and Jenga top a stack of board games. Flat-screen TVs flash the night's basketball scores. A disco ball sprinkles light over sleek silver couches, low coffee tables, and a posh lit-up bar.