Now, with me being in L.A. for the years between 2002 and 2006, I'm not exactly sure when the Nerolux decided to abandon this time honored tradition of getting drunk Friday nights and heading down to the Nerolux for some good old fashioned karaoke. Let me point that I've never been a big fan of getting on stage and singing. I've probably sang karaoke less than a total of twenty times in my life, and when we first started going to the Nerolux, I had never sang before. Early on in our travels there, I kind of detested going to this bar mostly for that fact. I would tell my friends that I didn't like karaoke, but in fact, it was probably because I didn't have the balls to go attempt to sing. Over time, I learned that it was just about going and having fun. Or for some people I know, if they are good at entertaining while on stage, perhaps a free drink or two. Never really saw it happen at the Nerolux, but like I said, I didn't like it as much back then so I missed many early adventures to this lovely bar.
On with the show. Back then, the area where the two pool tables was not built yet. The stage was towards the back of the bar, as it is today. The same giant neon crown also covered the wall. On Fridays and Saturdays, the stage was used for hours and hours of karaoke. If you were lucky and got there during the first part of the night, you could probably get four or five songs in. The neat thing about singing karaoke here was that if someone really sucked at a song, another person could challenge them and sing the same song. I don't believe there were any prizes, unless you count your pride be ripped apart if someone challenged you and just blew you out of the park. Of course, if your pride is being wounded by karaoke challenges, then you should probably seek some medical help. I was unlucky enough to be challenged on a song I did. It was probably only my third time singing and my friend Paul decided to put in a song for us. (A little back story on that. We were doing a play called The Visit and we played characters who lip synced to a song called Some Kind of Wonderful. That's the song he put in.) When we got up there to sing, the version Paul choose was a quicker version than we were used to, so we completely butchered it. Luckily, the people who challenged us were friends of ours. Being the smart asses they were, they thought they were going to knock it out of the park. Needless to say, they may have been worse than us.
Back tracking a little, the very first time I sang karaoke was at the Nerolux. After a fair amount of alcoholic beverages, I was convinced by my friend Scott to sing a song with him. The song he had chosen was Summer Nights from the Grease soundtrack. Being easily influenced at that point, I agreed to sing on the condition that I get to sing the boys part. Scott agreed and the rest they say, is history. [Ed. note: I have performed this song at various points of the years, always agreeing to it on the condition that I get to sing the boys part. Maybe I performed it about 8 months ago at Quinns with Ryan A. Who's to say?] There were no challenges that night, but I think that's mostly because the Challenge rule wasn't in effect.
Despite the Nerolux ridding itself of the karaoke and putting a ping pong table in front of the stage, I still go from time to time on Sunday nights or in the late afternoons on the weekends before the bands trickle in. I have many memories of the place, from Ken and Greg singing Friends in Low Places with a beer in their hand and a dip in their mouth to watching plays that friends put on. There's nothing like going here at a quiet time, putting a dollar in the jukebox, and listening to the sweet sounds of Elvis Costello and Elliot Smith. Most of the time, it's a good place for friends to get together and talk about the times of old. Whether its in times of happiness or times of sorrow, the Nerolux usually provides the release you're looking for. All of this while enjoying a $2 Pabst. Now, if they'd only bring back karaoke so I could sing Some Kind of Wonderful and maybe a boozed up rendition of Friends in Low Places in memory of a friend lost. Hell, I'd even put in a dip. And maybe sing the girls version of Summer Nights. Just maybe...
"The past is the present, isn't it? It's the future too. We all try to lie out of it, but life won't let us."- Mary from Long Days Journey into Night