The community of tiny half-dilapidated apartments where I spent my childhood was located in an old neighbourhood of my hometown, and every summer, there was a local festival held at the small shinto shrine right next to our community. On the day of event, many food and toy vendors lined up in the square, and on the pop-up stage, a karaoke contest was held which everyone living nearby could participate in free of charge.
In the summer when I was six, my two best friends and I were all going to participate in the karaoke contest at this summer festival. I wasn’t eager to sing in front of other people, but since my friends had decided to, that made me want to participate in the contest, too.
At the time, the three of us were all immersed in the Sailor Moon TV series. I wanted to sing the famous opening theme song, but my friends wanted to sing a song from the newest season, which I wasn’t so into. So, in the end, we entered the contest separately, my two friends as a team and me as an individual.
To be honest, I was feeling rather sad and disappointed that I had to sing alone while my friends were together. But since the song I wanted to sing was different from their choice, it was an inevitable arrangement.
Seeing my disappointment, my parents tried to cheer me up by taking me to the local CD store and buying me a CD album of Sailor Moon songs. It was the first time they took me to a CD store and bought a CD specifically for me according to my choice. Once back home, they helped me to practice singing by playing the song on the CD player. Slowly, I came out of my blue mood and started to look forward to the karaoke contest.
Many people participated in the karaoke contest, and there was a long queue of people in the back of the stage. With my entry number, my mother and I waited in the queue while other people sang on the stage. The stage and the backspace was separated by a red and white curtain, and when I pressed my eyes against the floor, I could see the singer’s feet and the faces of the audience from the gap.
As I nervously waited for my turn, we met my kindergarten classmate and her mother in front of us. The two mothers started to talk, and my mother told the girl’s mother that I was going to sing the Sailor Moon’s opening theme song.
“Oh, that one,” the girl’s mother said. “Everybody sings that song! My daughter also sang it last year. This year, she’s singing Doraemon’s theme song.”
I was a little offended to hear my song of choice being treated as a generic song that every girl sang. However popular the song was, it had a special meaning to me that was different from what it meant to others.
After the long wait, my turn finally arrived. My mother wished me good luck and I went on the stage. It was my very first karaoke experience and everything was new to me including the screen showing the lyrics. Greatly impressed by the way things were arranged, I was no longer nervous, and sang my favourite song in front of everybody as best as I could.
I don’t know what others thought of my singing that night. Nobody commented on it afterwards and I certainly didn’t get the prize. But my parents told me I sang well and I was quite happy about that.
This was the story of my first karaoke night.