Belting out your favorite track in front of a bar full of strangers used to be a pretty harmless activity, at least as long as the singer could carry a tune. During a pandemic spread through respiratory droplets, though, it could prove to be deadly.
Which is why all Voicebox Karaoke venues will be closed for the foreseeable future, including two in Portland on Northwest Hoyt Street and Southeast 6th Avenue. The chain says that despite its efforts to create a safe atmosphere for guests and staff, the skyrocketing COVID-19 caseload prevents it from hosting guests at this time.
"Our business cannot withstand understandably cautious municipal mandates and consumer mindsets. It's just not the right time for doing what we do," Voicebox founder and CEO Scott Simon stated in a press release. "We have a duty to our employees, our guests, and our larger communities to stay closed until we can operate with 100% confidence."
Since in-person service is suspended at Multnomah County bars for at least four weeks, extrovert vocalists may be a bit bummed they've lost their outlet. However, Voicebox is offering an alternative that, depending on your level of Zoom fatigue, could prove to be fun or just plain annoying.
The company plans to use the platform to launch karaoke parties that can hold up to 25 people at a time. Voicebox's extensive library of songs will still be available in the online iteration of its business, and you can choose your tune using your smartphone as a remote.
A two-hour virtual session costs $20, but Voicebox is rolling out an introductory $10 rate. The parties operate 19 hours a day, which means if you have a hankering to start your day with a power ballad, Voicebox will be there for you as early as 7 am.