By Mandi Donohue

I adore going to weddings. Not only is it a moving experience watching two individuals express their love for each other, shaped with the support of a caring community, but it is also the opportunity to let loose and dance! Aside from the get-down funk of Laura Love and the Family Dog (truly doing God’s work), when else in our lives do we have the opportunity to “shake our tail feathers?” As we get older, it seems fewer and far between. This makes me sad!

This is also what I love about karaoke — the idea of people coming together over a few drinks, collectively singing songs we all know or have long forgotten, from various genres and eras. Now before I lose you because I said the “k” work, just let me tell you that I understand. You probably fall into one of three categories: those that are enthusiasts, those that are in physical discomfort at the word karaoke, and the “too-cool-for-school” eye-rollers.

Whatever group you fall into, that’s OK. I would like to mention to you, though, that like an unbelievable golden unicorn of sparkles, I have seen all three groups of people magically represented at karaoke, killing it and having a good time!

• “I can’t sing!” Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sing well. My sister is a professional singer and has gone down in her glory days as karaoke legend shredding Heart’s “Barracuda,” and was prone to closing down the bar with Pat Benatar’s “All Fired Up.” But no matter when I put my ticket in, the karaoke jockey would always say, “And next up, Darci’s little kid sister, Maaaaaaandi!” — total gut punch I chalked up to good sisterly duty.

Needless to say, I got funny fast. Soon, I realized it just wasn’t a big deal and I stopped singing goofy renditions of “Makin’ Whoopee” and started failing miserably at giant Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Martina McBride ballads. My voice cracked, I couldn’t hit notes. I sound “screechy” (a technical term), and people cheered me on just the same. I even got a smidgen better!

• “I don’t like to get on stage — ever!” My best friend adamantly will not sing karaoke “until she sells a screenplay” (oh brother), but she loves to have a drink and always sings along from her seat, watching the show. So know that you don’t even have to sing! Also, anything goes at karaoke. I once saw a 60-plus-year-old man sing “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” exactly like Patti Page in an octave I couldn’t hit if you pinched me. I also saw a man get up and sing “We Are the World,” doing all the voices like a champ. And then, there’s the dancing!

Why am I talking karaoke? Because on Saturday, Feb. 11, the amazing McKenzie Reeve will be hosting karaoke at The Branding Iron in Twisp starting at 9 p.m., and a group of us from The Freestone will be there. Our community, not to mention the nation, is politically divided right now and while I know that I work with people whose opinions are completely different than mine, they are still good people that I adore.

Karaoke doesn’t discriminate. It has nothing to do with politics. It just allows us all to come together, have fun and let loose.  Remember — we like each other! We really do!  And if it’s just me and my girl McKenzie?  “I Got You Babe!” 

“But I want community now, Mandi!” Well, you are in luck. This Sunday (Feb. 5), join us on the tracks for the fourth annual Methow Valley Ski for Women in Mazama. For all ages and abilities, this “donations only” event will be full of fun and games. For more information, visit www.roomone.org or e-mail mvskiwomen@yahoo.com. Here’s to community!

PREVIOUSLY, IN MAZAMA