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A few years back karaoke was really only seen as a tacky machine for hens and stags in the back of a stretch hummer. But now the global karaoke market has been estimated to be worth nearly $10 billion and bars have capitalized on this popularity, with chains like Lucky Voice popping up across the capital, counting Prince Harry, Harry Styles, Paul McCartney and Gwyneth Paltrow among its customers. These kind of establishments have encouraged London’s karaoke scene to shift from its humble beginnings, toward the more corporate Japanese style of Karaoke, which offers groups of friends private rooms to enjoy. But this kind of segregation isn’t what London nightlife is about. It reeks of Brexit and all the social division that comes with it. In these dark times we need to come together to support each other. And where should we come together? In the consensual, safe place that is Peckham of course!

 

Some of Peckham’s hotspots offer the kind of classic, no thrills karaoke that we as a society need most right now: Open, inexpensive spaces where you can get lit, chat shit and sing in front of a crowd of strangers, peers and queers. Because that's what makes karaoke the social adhesive that it is, it's one of the best and worst parts of karaoke that makes Peckham’s offerings so special in 2018. Karaoke translates as ‘empty orchestra’ (thanks Wikipedia) but go to a karaoke night in Peckham on a Sunday night and you’ll find the opposite of empty (thanks joke cliche).

 

Like many Peckham haunts, karaoke crowds proffer an interesting look at a cross section of society that one would find within the tall walls of SE5. You’ll find old favourites amongst the peckham set, new additions and skating upstarts looking for cheap drinks. It’s a rich tapestry of  escapism, amoralism and alcoholism. Canavans has long been regarded as one of the jewels in the crown of Peckham. A literal hotbed of pool games and art school dames it has fast become the go-to for a good night, no less as result of the seminal karaoke nights on Wednesdays and Sundays. The karaoke schedule's complete disregard of the working week adds to the flavour of the night that occurs in front of the pool room glass and reflects the kind of carefree hedonism that everyone yearns for. 

 

Another karaoke destination is The Greyhound on a Saturday night. The Greyhound feels like the no man's land between a cheap wedding and an irish wake. The unassuming venue can surprisingly create some good vibes. With less red tape than Canavans and its proximity to the Kentish Drovers, The Greyhound is fast becoming another Peckham karaoke mecca. Even Prince of Peckham is getting involved. Seeing a gap in the market, they’ve thrown down the gauntlet and started their own Hip Hop V Grime karaoke night. Fancy yourself as a bit of a Mike Skinner? Maybe you’re more J Hus? Or do you love yourself as much as Kanye loves Kanye? And it’s got £5 cocktails all night!

 

Forget Infernos (if you ever remembered it), don’t bother with All Star Lanes (who does) and allow Lucky Voice! Peckham is the place to lose your inhibitions in front of a crowd of collective inebriation and more importantly, find your voice! Whether its lucky or not is up to whether you can handle all the cheap beer you’ve necked.

 

 
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Ronan Smith
Journalist
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