We realise there is a very strong chance that you already know about the Bearpit Karaoke – it appears on almost every ‘must-do things in Berlin’ list and is a right of passage for any self-respecting visitor to the city, but you know what? We reckon most Berliner’s take it for granted and don’t go as often as they should. This failure to regularly worship at the altar of Bearpit Karaoke is ridiculous as it is fucking amazing on so many levels.
First off, the setting is unreal. In fact, it’s probably the best spot for public karaoke in the world. It’s as if the Mauerpark amphiteatre was built with the Bearpit in mind. Yes, of course, the space works well for other performances, but it works particularly perfectly for the karaoke. Every available seat is usually snatched up and even standing room is hard to come by. As a performer, taking the stage must feel like entering the lion’s den and we salute every person who is brave enough to take that leap.
When someone steps up to the mic, you never know what type of performance to expect – there is so much glorious anticipation in this unknown. Sometimes you’re privy to a sneaky trained singer who belts out a pitch perfect rendition of their song of choice. Other times you watch a tone deaf singer miss every note, but win over the crowd with their enthusiasm. Occasionally, you observe a perilously hungover person who hasn’t slept and has instead been forced by the rest of their hen/stag party to get up there and perform. Oftentimes you might even watch a celebrity from another country with a whole film crew in tow perform. The only thing that is certain, is that no matter what type of performer it is, the crowd are right there with them.
Speaking of the crowd, oh boy, are they special. If the performer picks a popular enough song, they don’t even really need to sing at all – the crowd will do that for them. Despite being called the Bearpit, the audience isn’t really in the business of eating anyone alive, and the whole vibe is encouraging and supportive. Being in the audience is like riding an emotional rollercoaster that has peaks of joy and laughter all over the show.
A huge amount of credit for the special nature of Bearpit Karaoke has to go to its creator and host, Joe Hatchiban. Over the years, the Irishman has perfected his craft and he keeps everything flowing with ease.
So if you’re thinking about what to do on a Sunday afternoon, stop taking the Bearpit Karaoke for granted and give it the love it deserves.