Wanderlust: Los Angeles “Karaoke Bars”

Karaoke. One of Los Angeles’ favorite past-times, because we are a sea of self-indulgent, wannabe performers who will do anything for attention, including, but not limited to, singing badly off-key and dancing unnaturally with props all the while intoxicated.

Having had two separate karaoke outings in one week, I thought I’d showcase a few of LA’s favorite karaoke institutions.

Max’s Karaoke – West LA

Last Tuesday, a group of 8 of us met at Max’s to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Max’s is located on Sawtelle in the Little Osaka neighborhood. Max is as close to authentic Asian karaoke as you can get. At Max’s you rent out rooms by the hour. They have Japanese, Chinese and English songbooks. Prices range depending on group size but on average it’s about $6-$7 a per person per hour with the more people in the room the cheaper it gets. For $1 more per person, you can bring in your own food and drinks. They say no alcohol but when they ask you up front, you just say no and no questions are asked. Make sure to get some delicious cream puffs from Beard Papa’s in the plaza. What’s cool is that they now have iPads to key in your song queue instead of those clunky songbooks and old school remotes and they’re open to 4am on Fri and Sat.


On Friday, it was a bachelorette party at Dimples Showcase. According to the website, Dimples was the first karaoke club in America. It’s a quirky dive bar with dining rooms and a stage that sits front and center. But, there’s no bad seat in the house because there are cameras that project on every wall and tv in the place! They also live stream karaoke performances on their website and if that’s not enough, if you’re celebrating a birthday or special event (especially if you’re a big group of all girls), owner Sal Ferarro will hook you up with free copies of your performances on DVD and souvenir photographs to take home. It’s right across the street from NBC and Warner Bros Studios, so the clientele is mostly entertainment biz folk and those who wish to be discovered by them. Dimples is legendary, with celebrities stopping in to sing sometimes their own songs. (Though that isn’t really karaoke anymore now, is it?) Cover was $5 on a Friday night.

Watch the video of our performance of Michael Jackson’s PYT. By the way, I am completely sober as you can probably tell. Awkward much? Lol.

Brass Monkey – K-town

I’ll always have a soft spot for Brass Monkey on Wilshire because it was the first ever karaoke bar that I visited and reluctantly became a regular at during the early years of my bar-hopping youth. It was there that I popped my karaoke cherry ironically singing Madonna’s Like a Virgin. It was there that I spent a many nights hurling in their tiny bathroom stalls after one too many Jack and Cokes. It was there that I met Elton from Clueless and acted out “Rolling with the Homies” for him. Brass Monkey is ALWAYS packed. It makes for a fun crowd. Downside, for those who want a lot of mic time, you’ll probably only get in 1-2 songs unless you go early or buy the KJ, karaoke jockey, lots of drinks. They have great greasy bar food to help soak up the Jack and Cokes. Best nachos ever! Brass Monkey is always a fun time. Great crowd who dances with you during your performances and an awesome KJ who keeps the energy up between songs.

Love it or hate, karaoke is here to stay. It’s a past-time everyone either loves to hate or hates to love. I fall into the latter cateogry. It’s like an addiction. What can I say or sing? Except…nah, nah, na, na…

Sing it, baby! Tell me, what’s your favorite place to karaoke?


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