Australia’s location in Oceania—close enough to Asia that its cultural, gastronomical and economic interests often overlap—also means there’s a large Asian expat population making new homes in its cities and small towns alike. Karaoke nights can be had all over Sydney, especially the Haymarket area, which is also home to the city’s Chinatown, and not far from its Thai and Korean neighbors, either. As with most karaoke palaces, what you see when you walking into these dens is pretty much what you get—an offbeat, anything-goes atmosphere, illogically arranged furniture and neon lights that lend a dash of seediness, and customers who aren’t really there for anything but a good time and a chance to belt out some Journey songs. But hey, karaoke wouldn’t be any fun if it were fancy, now would it?
Ding Dong Dang
Aside from having the coolest name of any karaoke joint in Sydney, it also has nifty fluorescent hieroglyphics and a snack bar. This is one of the older-school singing emporiums in town, which gives it a down-at-the-heels vibe suitable for warbling out a sloppy version of your favorite Kenny Loggins tune.
A clutch of celebrities from Hong Kong founded this sprawling complex that houses a wine bar, restaurant, lounge, and two choices for those who want to sing: private rooms or a main area where you’re right onstage in front of the crowd.
This unassuming spot on a very busy stretch of George Street also doubles as a Japanese restaurant and bar, so you can order drinks and hand rolls to one of the 24 (tiny) rooms and get the sustenance you need to sing your best Celine Dion ballad.
Sydney’s oldest spot for karaoke has, thankfully, been renovated, so you can sing in spic-and-span surroundings. It has a huge song selection, and the rooms are dark to protect those off-pitch. Plus: lasers!
Eastern Suburbs Legion Club
Each Wednesday and Sunday evening, this old-school watering hole near Bronte Beach hosts an impromptu, David Lynch-ian karaoke night that turns into a dance party populated by some of the most unusual characters in Sydney. I once met John Denver’s stepmother there—and I’ll tell you, the woman could sing.