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Posted at 1:10 PM ET, 01/13/2011

H Street NE becomes D.C.'s karaoke capital

By Fritz Hahn

Two of the coolest regular karaoke nights in D.C. occur just a block apart on H Street NE: The wacky Kostume Karaoke, where performers don wigs and costumes before getting on stage at Little Miss Whiskey's, and the rockin' Sticky Rice Karaoke, where singers throw themselves into the act and wind up dancing on the tables.

Every year, the two team up for the H Street Karaoke Championship -- a sing-off on the hallowed stage of the Rock and Roll Hotel. (If you've ever wanted to boast you sang on the same stage as Vampire Weekend, Phoenix or Best Coast, this is your chance.)

Of course, you can't just show up for the championship, which takes place on Jan. 27. The 25 participants will be chosen based on their performances at Kostume Karaoke (Jan. 19) and Sticky Rice (Jan. 13 and 20). But before you start thinking about which Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey tune will wow the judges, a word of warning: Sticky Rice host/judge Andrew Herndon says that an entertaining performance with costumes and props and an okay voice will get more votes than just an amazing set of pipes. "You're going to perform on the stage of Rock and Roll Hotel," he says. "If you have a good voice and you stand there and you don't do anything, you're going to suck."

In previous years, winners have included dance routines, worn outlandish makeup, mimed performing on instruments, even "taped computer parts to their clothes," Herndon says. In other words, don't take it too seriously.

The grand prizes for the winners have yet to be determined, Herndon says, though past winners have taken home $500 in cash or tabs at the bars. "It's more for fun than for prizes," he says. "You get to win a lot of street cred."

To enter, just show up at one of the three qualifiers and make sure you include an e-mail address on the karaoke song slip when you turn it in, because Herndon doesn't always decide who's going to make the finals on the spot. "Sometimes... the next day, when I wake up, I'll be like, 'Oh, this person was good,'" and I'll ask them [to be in the contest]."

By Fritz Hahn  | January 13, 2011; 1:10 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events  
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