Have you ever tried to do karaoke in Finland? Have you ever visited a Finnish karaoke bar? If not, please, do. It is something no foreigner should ever miss. Because if you have never experienced Finnish people singing karaoke, you have missed a crucial part of Finnish cultural heritage, and you will never get a complete picture of the mentality of the typical Fin 🙂
Did you know that in Finland karaoke is so big deal that they actually came up with the Karaoke World Championship (KWC)? It is true. It has been organized since 2003.
So, before you embark on your first Finnish karaoke journey, here goes some Finnish karaoke etiquette…
1. Do not give in to the first impression
In the past, if I ever walked by a karaoke bar in Helsinki, I would usually speed up and not look around. I have no idea why, but from the outside karaoke bars in Helsinki look so uninviting (no offence!), a little bit like a cheap night club or a game room. It must be the windows, which are darkened or totally black and the flashing signs. For example, the karaoke bar Erottaja is a great example. I would never enter it if one of my friends had not recommended it to me.
Although, some of the karaoke bars are uninviting also from the in side… It is all about personal preferences.
2. Pick your audience. It all depends on what kind of experience you want to have and what is your type of karaoke
Do you like to sing without waiting, do you not care about the size of your audience and do you not need to be drunk? Go to the bar right after it opened. The bartender might look weird at you (like when I asked at Erottaja karaoke when I entered into the empty bar if it is usually so quiet in here and the bartender answered astonished: “Madam, we have literally just opened 30 seconds ago.“), but what the hell! It is your night out and you can have it your way 🙂 I sure will!
Do you feel more comfortable singing a little bit drunk, you want an audience and you do not mind waiting for your turn? Come to the bar as any other regular customer – between 9 and 10 p.m. At that time bars usually get more crowded, so you get more fun but also less of a singing (waiting queue 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the place). Mind you, people usually come to the karaoke bar to sing. If they want just to drink or pick girls/boys, they go at that time to a regular bar.
Do you prefer a “wasted karaoke-style”? Do you want to laugh at other people singing or do you want to sing without remembering it? Go to the bar after midnight, when you have already been drinking some time somewhere else. Although, be ready that they might not let you in – depending on who you come with and how drunk you look. Yup. Bouncers in Finland are tough. And you will most probably wait for your one and only song for about 75 to 90 minutes.
3. Don’t expect usual
Have you ever been to a Finnish bar? Finnish KARAOKE bar is nothing like that! I was so surprised when I found out how nice, warm and social people one can meet in a karaoke bar. They were talking to each other, smiling, cheering up for everybody. If somebody did not know the tune or fell out of rhythm, others helped him/her out and sang along. I have never sung Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody along with a full bar. Until I came to Kaivopihan karaokekellari one evening 🙂 It was great. No laughing and picking on other singers, no spiteful comments…
All I can say: “Karaoke people are nice and fun. Finns included.” 🙂