In the dim lighting of downtown Miami's Transit Lounge, sushi chef Ed Deposoy's ponytail sways back and forth as he sings Rod Stewart's "You're in my Heart." Surprisingly, the Manila, Philippines native sounds a lot like Stewart. A couple dances in front of the stage, and Deposoy smiles at his audience - some laughing and cheering.
Patrons look trendy and a few came straight from the office. The small industrial-warehouse-looking bar gets a little crowded, but the bartenders are quick and attentive. It's decorated with red lights, chandeliers and dark artwork, but on Wednesday nights, the large stage is the main attraction. Before the karaoke madness begins, patrons compete for the biggest score in the popular video game, Rock Band. The winner is awarded a $50 bar tab.
"You're a rhapsody, a comedy/ you're a symphony and a play/ you're every love song ever written/ but honey what do you see in me.'' Deposoy finishes and hops off the stage to laughs and raucous applause from the sociable spectators. He tells me in an exclusive interview that mastering Stewart's raspy intonation didn't happen overnight. It took diligence and discipline.
Karaoke is "truly just a way to make fun of yourself,'' says Maytee Valenzuela, who runs a tuxedo shop. She heads to the dance area for the next karaoke artist, a blond who's clearly nervous and asks the crowd for a drink. Valenzuela runs to the rescue with a cocktail, and DJ Richard Bedrossian hops on stage to help out with an extra voice. Bedrossian works for Kara-O-King, which sends its "KJs'' out to other bars, like Bar-B-Que Beach, Sky Bar and Gusto's Raw Grill and Bar.
A couple bellows a tearful rendition of "Piano Man" by Billy Joel, while co-workers and old friends sloppily sing in unison - almost. Young professional Danny Rodriguez, still wearing his office attire, breaks off a little "Bump and Grind" by R. Kelly for the ladies. He can't make it through one verse without laughing.
Transit Lounge; 729 SW First Ave., Miami; 305-377-4628; Rock Band from 7 to 11 p.m. and regular karaoke from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Wednesday.
-- KYLE TEAL