Music News

You Can Sing Karaoke Again at Bars Across Arizona

The karaoke mics are now on at bars across Arizona.
The karaoke mics are now on at bars across Arizona. Suvan Chowdhury
Karaoke fans, get ready to step up to the mic again as the Arizona Department of Health Services is allowing the popular activity to happen at bars across the state.

There’s a catch, though: You’ll have to wear a mask and follow other rules while belting out your favorite tunes.

On October 20, ADHS unveiled requirements allowing karaoke, parlor games, and other activities at Arizona bars that follow certain COVID-19 safety restrictions, including social distancing between patrons and sanitizing touch-points.

Bars, clubs, and other businesses offering karaoke will have to keep participants at least 6 feet away from other patrons if they have a plexiglass barrier installed or 12 feet if they don’t. Masks also must be worn by singers, microphones and other equipment will have to be disinfected or changed out between uses, and breaks must be taken between songs to “allow for proper ventilation.”

Bars in Arizona have been allowed to reopen for business since August under a series of safety restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, including operating at 50 percent capacity. Activities such as karaoke, dancing, and parlor games like pool and darts weren’t allowed under the guidelines until this week, though. (Dancing is still prohibited by ADHS for the time being.)

Owners and employees at several local bars told Phoenix New Times they were happy at the news and are embracing the new rules. The staff at The Grapevine in Scottsdale, a popular karaoke spot, are installing a three-sided plexiglass booth for patrons.

Over at Bridgett’s in north Phoenix, another karaoke destination, bartender Megan Lynn says they’ve resumed their nightly karaoke sessions on Wednesday and had a sizable turnout.

“We’re really excited to be doing it again since it seemed like forever since we’ve been allowed to have karaoke,” she says.

Spencer Golish, owner of 414 Pub & Pizza in Tempe, says that while he’s “grateful” to be able to offer karaoke, he finds the safety rules to be “a little difficult.”

“Am I happy to be able to do it again? Yes. Do I think the restrictions they're requiring us to do are ridiculous? Yes,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, we're going to be following the rules, but having people sing with a mask on will be tedious for some.”

Golish says that creating the required social distancing space will also be a “little tricky” at his spot, which is located in one of the smaller locations at the Mill Avenue Shops in downtown Tempe.

“Our place is kind of small, so creating that space is difficult, if not kind of impossible,” he says. “I'm taping a box on the floor that singers will have to stand in and I’ll have to move around or get rid of a lot of my tables to comply [with the rules].”

Golish says it's worth it, as karaoke is a popular draw at his business.

“We've been struggling without [karaoke] so it's great to have it back, especially before Halloween, because I wasn't sure what we were going to do,” he says. “I was trying to think of ideas and clever things to get people to come in, but now that we have karaoke again, we should be alright.”
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.