District Karaoke League becomes a place of solace from pandemic life


WASHINGTON (WDVM) — With the pandemic, we all experienced putting some of our favorite hobbies on hold. One group in D.C., District Karaoke, took their events online, and one year later it has become an important part of life for many.

Over the last year, it has become an escape from quarantine and has brought a renewed sense of community for those who go every week. Laura Silverman joined District Karaoke in 2020, after her typical Thursday night activity was canceled. She said, “It’s become an important part of my life.”

The league was started nine years ago by Jesse Rauch and became popular almost instantly. Rauch explained, “We put it online saying, register for a karaoke league and it filled up in six days.”

Now, it serves as a getaway from work-from-home life. Joseph Kennedy, who has been a member of District Karaoke since 2015, said, “It’s kind of a release. You’re going through the week and don’t realize you’ve only talked to coworkers in a meeting. You’ve only talked about work. I feel like when it’s time to go to sleep at night and I’m going to dream about something, I don’t want it to only be work.”

Weekly Zoom calls that make up the District Karaoke are filled with songs and fun, but over time, the virtual event has also been a place for celebrating successes and supporting those who have lost. Rauch said, “I’ve definitely heard from folks that without the virtual karaoke they really would have been worried for their ability to get through the pandemic.”

Silverman added, “There is this sense of comradery, and obviously we all wanna sing and we’re all going to sing, but that is sort of secondary.”

“We’re there for each other. Even if we’re not there physically, we’re there in our little rectangular box for each other,” said Rauch.

Most of the people attending are from the D.C. area, but there are people who join from across the country, and even across the world. Rauch said, “We have regulars from Brazil, from England and all over the country.” Kennedy adds it has led to friendships with people he may not have ever met. “You don’t think a karaoke league or a Zoom call will broaden your horizons or socialize you, but it can happen.”

All of the events happen while keeping an upbeat atmosphere to have fun. Rauch said, “We really have no expectations other than everyone being as kind and loving to each other as humanly possible.”

The no-judgement zone spreads farther than the singing. For Silverman, who is the founder of Booze Free in DC, it’s also nice to be in an environment where she can have fun without feeling pressured to drink. “It’s just great to sing with people who are non-judgemental and the range of talent is from tone deaf to The Voice worthy.”

District Karaoke meets every Thursday night at 8 o’clock and goes for hours. You can learn more about signing up here.

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