Well, this pandemic made me reevaluate the people I choose to associate with. After 9 months unemployed (with very little government assistance because I was self-employed), I decided to get a full time job in January. This job has a schedule that is incompatible with karaoke hosting. I could have done karaoke at some of my venues in May 2020, but chose to not put strangers at risk of something that I heard was horrible and possibly fatal, first-hand from friends and family. After finding myself replaced by 2 venues, that apparently don’t take these things into consideration, and then finding out some bartenders at another venue are actively discouraging people from getting vaccinated, I couldn’t go back to working with these venues even if I could. I love karaoke. I love being a part of the entertainment, ensuring the most people in a room are enjoying themselves and the feeling that came from being told when people noticed I was good at it. I wish this pandemic hadn’t, as my good friend Mackie pointed out, showed us everyone “without masks,” that is, as the selfish people they had been all along.
Being out of the downtown bar scene for 14 months, I may as well not have worked there at all. 21-year-olds won’t remember me. With a bar now doing karaoke every night, using an online subscription karaoke service, I don’t think my style of curated songlist and exclusive venue choices will even matter, especially to people who spent the pandemic encouraging strangers to gather indoors singing together maskless.
Yeah, I’m bitter. I took the high road. I had worked for 15 years to be the best at hosting karaoke in this area, and was recognized with 4 “Best of Charleston” awards. I might add, I’m the only karaoke host who has any of those, as every other year, the winner was a live-band-karaoke or a venue with multiple nights of karaoke weekly with different hosts. After that work, I had to give up my business, my only source of income, while others kept on doing it, because I listened to public health officials who said avoiding these activities would save lives. I kept thinking this pandemic would end if everyone did the bare minimum and avoided spreading the virus to strangers, then I would be able to go back to doing what I loved. That didn’t happen.
So, I am available to be booked for private events on weekends, with enough advance notice. I changed my weekly schedule page to reflect that I have no weekly schedule. Maybe things will change, but I can’t imagine working with any of my old venues, with the exception of Local 616. Dwayne has kept public safety in mind with every step of his reopening and should ge celebrated for it. The others… I dunno. Not gonna name names, but I am disappointed in people I once thought of as friends.