Kafeoke: Chennai’s first karaoke coffee lounge

Chennai has a new happening place that’s just three weeks old and creating waves. It’s Kafeoke, the karaoke coffee lounge in Valmiki Nagar. Located at the end of First Seaward Road, right on the beach and overlooking it, it’s a cool place to hang out and have fun, especially if you are gifted with the ability to sing! I decided to check it out Saturday night after hearing about it from colleagues at work. We landed up there at eight or so to find it packed! The crowd from the SearchCamp unconference being held at Tidel Park was there, having a blast and unwinding after the conference. I bumped into my friend Kiruba, who took me over to meet the person behind Kafeoke, Swapna Abraham. Actually Swapna didn’t need an introduction, for we knew who she was already, having seen and heard her perform in Kerala at a well known retreat centre. She is probably the best Gospel singer ever to come out of India, and could easily have been a pop star if she so desired. Her talent and singing ability, combined with intelligence and a vivacious personality make her a person who is much admired, but still easy to get along with. Check out Swapna on her website.

Swapna took us around the cafe and showed us its salient features. Kafeoke is located on the first floor of a beachside bungalow on stilts. The ground floor has a garden café around a fish pond beneath the building that you enter past a Japanese ‘Manga’ (comic book) style mural. The café itself is on the first floor, that you reach by an open staircase. The café is done up as a lounge, with long sofas with cushions encased in silk, with silk curtains on the windows. It is an exciting space with creative use of color on the walls, ceiling, curtains, sofas and cushions. It is an open plan with the spaces flowing into each other. At the far end from the door is a large screen for the karaoke, where the words of the songs appear for the singers to follow. Each area also has a flat screen, so one does not necessarily have to go in front to sing if one is shy. In fact, one young couple chose to sit in a far corner of a lounge space away from the large screen where you could barely see them and sing. There was also a software professional from Chennai who sang beautifully and did so from the main screen in front of everyone. There were families from as far away as Parry’s, a large business crowd with their wives and children in tow, all having a blast. It was a great atmosphere, where you can really relax, let your hair down, and if so inclined, sing! It’s also a great place to meet like minded people, and relax and have fun.

Swapna also took us into another lounge which was more Indian in style, with low cane furniture. This sound proof lounge is for Indian or Carnatic music for those who prefer it. There were also patrons in this lounge, obviously having a good time. She also showed us her studio where she trains young, aspiring singers. There is also a separate studio where they can record their songs to make albums! Each of these spaces is done very professionally, and with creative flair. The menu is quite like a coffee shop, with a range of fast food favorites such as hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches and the like, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The drinks include a range of mocktails, all with the names of songs, as well milk shakes, floats, coffee, tea etc. the prices are in the range of Café Coffee day and very affordable. There is an extensive menu for the songs as well, with hundreds of songs in English, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam. The charge is Rs 30 for every song you sing, just like a regular menu! The software for the karaoke system is quite professional, and the sound quality is superb. I suspect that if you do choose to sing, you will be stunned by the sound of your voice on this system! Next time I will post some pictures of Kafeoke., as I couldn’t this time due some technical difficulties with the camera. But hopefully, I’ve managed to give you a good idea of what its like.

So there you have it folks, Chennai’s first karaoke coffee lounge. Check it out with friends when you want to relax and have a blast!

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