The Travel + Leisure Guide to Kitsch-Free Karaoke
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The Travel + Leisure Guide to Kitsch-Free Karaoke

Nathaniel Wood

At L.A.’s latest hot spot, a who’s who of Hollywood gets its groove on. (And you can, too.) Eviana Hartman grabs a mic.

It's late on a Wednesday (or is it Thursday by now?) off the Sunset Strip, and I, an early-to-bed bookworm of otherwise modest comportment, am performing Nate Dogg and Warren G’s 1990s hit “Regulate” in front of what appears to be a roomful of escapees from a Coachella fashion shoot. I laid all them busters down, I let my gat explode / Now I’m switching my mind back into freak mode.…

Karaoke, like Halloween, has a Jekyll and Hyde effect on its participants: fueled by booze and pseudoanonymity, we can all be stars for a night. But at the Blind Dragon, local impresario John Terzian’s latest opening, the onlookers probably are stars. That’s because this karaoke lounge, unlike the laser-lit strip-mall dives and gimmicky Koreatown palaces of yore, is as hard to crack as any high-end WeHo boîte. Cocktails are served with pizza and dim sum in a space that blends old-school glam (leopard-print carpeting, mod chandeliers) with Brooklyn-style grit (walls and doors resemble dismantled shipping containers). Miley Cyrus and Cara Delevingne are regulars. A waitress clad in a chinoiserie robe assures me that “Gigi and Cody”—that’s model Gigi Hadid and her then boyfriend Cody Simpson—may show up tonight. (Wait, aren’t they underage?)

Terzian’s partner in the project, DJ Wade Crescent, hosts at-home karaoke parties for famous friends like Adam Levine, and the duo conceived the Blind Dragon as the same sort of secret late-night hideout (complete with a hidden entrance in an unmarked parking garage) for scenesters who’d rather not face down a phalanx of TMZ stringers. The main room is list-only (if you have to ask, you’re not getting in), but mere mortals can reserve one of four private rooms with state-of-the-art touch-screen systems. In the words of Warren G: Step to this, I dare ya. From $200 for a private room.

Nathaniel Wood

More kitsch-free karaoke:

Rock Box, Seattle
This minimalist, wood-accented lounge has translucent-walled rooms and even one tiny chamber where you can sing solo. On the menu: fine sakes plus charcuterie and cheeses from neighboring restaurant Cure.

Sing Sing Karaoke, Miami Beach
The décor isn’t much to rave about, but locals swear by this high-tech party palace, which is open seven nights a week.

Amour, Tokyo
An annex of the brutally hip nightclub Le Baron, this luxe den draws an international fashion crowd to its four private rooms, two of which were designed by Marc Newson.

Break Room 86, Los Angeles
Housed in the hipster-pedigreed Line Hotel in Koreatown, this 1980s-theme hangout has high school lockers, a Pac-Man machine, and throwback cocktails.

Bam Karaoke Box, Paris
The airy lounge and four private rooms have a deco vibe with graphic wallpaper, mood lighting, and contemporary furniture.

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