In Belize, karaoke machines appear in bars and hotel ballrooms with guests wearing Wal-Mart pineapple and palm tree short sleeved perma-press shirts. They sing into late hours and consume vast quantities of rum.
In Mogpog, karaoke machines appear in people’s front yards, or living rooms, and friends and family wear Rock and Roll T shirts, shorts, flip flops, sing into late hours and consume even larger quantities of Red Horse beer and home cooked food.
As competitors sing they are heckled, make mistakes and laugh. The music has to shut down at ten in the evening and each party gets a party permit from city officials before it can begin.
Holding a microphone, the star of the moment follows lyrics on a tv screen and sings the melody, adding emotion and dynamics. Some of the lyrics are in English and some are in Tagalog. When a song ends, there is a moment of silence as the machine calculates a final score and flashes it on the screen.
One hundred is the best score you can make from the machine,and, when someone gets a hundred, there are whoops and hollers.
One of the things I need to practice, before going back to Mogpog, is my singing.
The best way to describe my singing is that it sounds like a hungry cat with a tooth missing.