Oliver, a sophomore majoring in public relations, is a regular at Lakeside Dining Hall each Tuesday-night where students are invited to perform karaoke.
The Tuesday night Lakeside goers typically sport more sweatpants than skirts and wait for food by tapping the toes of their sneakers instead of their high heels. Despite the casual attire, these college students have been known to shake the crumbs of their fourth meal off of their laps and rise to their feet to applaud karaoke performances, including Oliver’s first performance of “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men, he said.
“I got up there and I literally just said, ‘We belong together,’ and everybody went crazy before I even got a full line out of my mouth,” he said. “I got a standing ovation on that song. People were tweeting at me.”
Panga Wilson, the host of the karaoke nights, has other experiences hosting karaoke in the Tuscaloosa area and has been impressed with the consistently large crowd each Tuesday night. She said she always recognizes Oliver and remembered that he received another standing ovation after singing a song by Prince.
“[Oliver] will sing, dance, walk the floor, and he has a beautiful voice,” she said.
Oliver said performing karaoke is perfect for turning a normal world into a musical one, he said.
“You just don’t care how many times you go flat or sharp, you just want to sing,” Oliver said.
On Tuesday nights, Courtney Wood, a freshman majoring in aerospace and mechanical engineering, often stays to watch karaoke performances for more than an hour.
“I come every night to Lakeside [Dining Hall],” she said. “Not for the food, but for the karaoke.”
Although the students who perform aren’t always vocally talented, they are usually funny and entertaining, she said. Attending karaoke performances at Lakeside has made her want to go and watch karaoke at other venues as well.
Alex Hawkins, a May 2014 graduate of the University, attended Jackie’s Lounge to perform karaoke during her time in school. Hawkins had a background in musical theatre during high school and wanted to go and sing again in a fun environment.
“I feel like [karaoke] is different because when you’re trained, you take it more seriously since your friends know you were supposedly a good singer at some point,” she said. “Those who aren’t trained don’t feel the need to sound good.”
Despite the pressure, Hawkins enjoyed her time at Jackie’s Lounge, singing a few songs between the obvious regulars who would come and perform.
Rachel Solino, a senior majoring in Spanish and international relations, works with UA students in the English Language Institute at the University who wanted to make trips to Jackie’s Lounge and Jupiter Bar to sing karaoke, she said. She hosted a karaoke party for the ELI students to celebrate the end of their semester, about one month ago.
“[The ELI students] loved it. They all have great attitudes and are just so fun-loving, which is why we enjoy hanging out together,” She said. “So I did all the fun American songs I knew and a few Portuguese and Spanish songs I know.”
By the end of the party, the students were singing well-known hit songs like “Thriller” and “Dixieland Delight.” Singing karaoke was a familiar concept and obviously not just an American idea, Solino said.
Karaoke is held at Late Night Lakeside at 10 p.m. each Tuesday and continues until 1 a.m. Jackie’s Lounge hosts a karaoke night on Thursdays.