Riddle me this: What happens when you confine 20-some travel bloggers to a private karaoke room in New York City, with easy access to a bar, and a whole lotta music?
Answer: Heaps of laughter, singing, dancing, drinking, networking, and a few unexpected breakout performances!
Such was the scene for #Twitaoke 2009, which offered travel bloggers in New York City and Washington, DC a great chance to come together for a common cause – bad singing…err, I mean networking.
I met Sean, Alisha, and Stacey from Sosauce outside Duet 35 in Koreatown. It was chilly, but since we were about 15 minutes early, we hung out there thinking nobody else had arrived. Of course we were wrong, as a bunch of people were already upstairs enjoying the warmth of our large, private room overlooking the street.
The order of arrivals is now lost on me, and in the absence of a roll call, (though not an icebreaker which Alisha had us go through), I believe the following people were present:
Dave (me) – Go Backpacking
Stephanie (also from VA)- Twenty-Something Travel
Sean, Alisha, Stacey – Sosauce
Michaela – Briefcase to Backpack
Amanda, Jen, and Holly – The Lost Girls
Andrew – The Brooklyn Nomad
Brian Peters – No Debt Travel World
Grant – Imagine: A Vagabond Story
Jodi – Legal Nomads
Melanie and Paul – Wayward Winos
Bruce – GAP Adventures (honorable mention – we meant to have him there!)
There were also a few friends of the Lost Girls that joined us, including Courtney (amazing singer) and Stephanie who was celebrating her last day of work with Seventeen magazine.
Not only was this a room full of travel bloggers, 7 of them had been on trips around the world! Amanda, Jen, Holly, Sherry, Brian and I had completed RTW trips, while Jodi was on a break from hers. As I type this up, she has already continued onward to Asia (follow her at Legal Nomads).
I had the honor of being nominated to sing first, before I’d even had a chance to drink half a beer and meet everyone. I chose “It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll To Me” by Billy Joel, which also happened to be the last song I sang for karoke with colleagues in Richmond before leaving on my RTW trip.
Unfortunately, the staff lady punched the code in wrong and a song by The Cars came on instead. I hesitated, not knowing it, and Andrew stepped up to officially break the ice. Then, I belted (ok, sang quietly) Billy Joel, and by then the girls started inputting the songs they knew and loved.
Best all around: Paul and Melanie’s duet of Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”
Best voices: Jodi and The Lost Girls, plus Courtney, a friend of the LG’s
Best dancing: Michaela (all of her songs)
Best avoidance of singing: Grant and Sherry
Best avoidance of the event altogether: Mike Barish (who was cooking reindeer fried rice in Canada)
Best song selection: Danielle and Leslie for Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin”
Most songs sung by a guy: Sean
Best comeback: Dave (me) for Blink 182’s “Dammit” (Alisha joining me, and some Grey Goose helped)
Best props: Michaela (who brought muppets for the finale – “Bohemian Rhapsody”)
As the event unfolded, I realized a raucous karaoke night isn’t especially conducive for getting to know new people. It was a lot of fun, of course, and I give big credit to those who sang in front of so many people they were meeting for the first time (Brian, Stephanie, Andrew).
Special thanks to Alisha from Sosauce for helping to book the room and organize us travel bloggers into a cohesive unit, if only for a few short hours on a Friday night in NYC.
Photo credit: Billy Joel courtesy of Stephanie Yoder