BEST KARAOKE Minneapolis 2005 - U Otter Stop Inn
617 Central Ave. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Ask anyone who's ever launched into "Purple Rain" on the encouragement of a roomful of strangers and a half-dozen cold ones: Karaoke is empowering. Like double vision in reverse, these often-hideous forays into barroom crooning blur the distinction between audience and performer, magically morphing glamorous superstars and fans into single sweaty entities. And nowhere is that comradeship more apparent than in the tiny U Otter Stop Inn. This triangular neighborhood watering hole, squatting quietly at the cusp of Northeast and Marcy Holmes, can't even accommodate a legitimate pool table (there's bumper pool, but if more than 10 people show up it gets repurposed as a drink holder), much less a karaoke stage. The result is an environment where, half an hour into the show, everyone smells like everyone else, and no one's more than 10 feet from some lady pouring all she's got into "Total Eclipse of the Heart." That's brotherhood, sister. Cramped though it may be, the Otter's got a knack for cramming a lot into a little room, and on karaoke nights the seething crowd produces enough joviality to burst the little pub's seams. And while it's easy to want to bask in that halcyon glow, the Otter's sardine-can environs have a way of discouraging the spotlight-seeking breed of karaoke whore, another bonus in a scene consistently spoiled by the actually talented. After all, no matter how akin to Billy Idol you think you are, nothing puts things in perspective quite like belting out a spot-on "White Wedding" into the shoulder blades of an entirely disinterested bystander.