The young couple who stayed at our house while we were in Buenos Aires was enthralled with the karaoke equipment that we brought with us. It is a very sophisticated system, with over 1300 digitized, high quality songs. Denise and I enjoy it on our own and we have shared it with others over the years. So, last week, Carolina and Hugo (our friends) suggested that we host a karaoke party at the soonest opportunity. Since the special assembly day was last weekend, last night (Saturday) after the meeting (which ends at 9 pm) was the earliest possible date and we decided on that. It was to be a "lluvia". While the word means rain, apparently it also refers to a social, where everyone brings food and drink and share in the evening.
Saturday morning, however, was Denise's appointment for the "revision" of her tooth problem at the main office of Medical Uruguaya in Montevideo. So, we dutifully trooped into town in the morning. Spent several hours waiting (much of it trying to figure out where we were supposed to pay the statement we had received (a small amount of $8 US). Turns out that we didn't have to pay and the dentist couldn't figure out why they gave that to us in the first place.
Eventually Denise was called in, they looked at the tooth and said, yes it needed to be filled (that took about 5 minutes). All that took only a little under 2 months. That must be a record in Uruguay. Anyway, it turns out that they only fill one tooth per customer under our plan (which is OK for this time). They looked at a filling that Denise had and she explained that it was from New York, so they agreed to do the work. We will try and get it filled in a couple of weeks. By now, we realize it might have been better to get it done locally, but at this point it is more of an interesting experience than anything.
After getting home, we cleaned up the house and prepared for the evening. Even though it would be a "lluvia", I planned on having food on hand. I made chicken, potato salad, corn and a nice peach shortcake, plus had enough beer, wine and sodas available for a small army. We had planned on having as many as 20. About 15 showed up, starting around 9:30, after going home and changing out of suits.
They brought fixings for chorizo (sausages) and hamburgers, which would be BBQ'd and put on buns. They were intrigued by my US-style BBQ and while they enjoy a good asado from the parrilla (the UY BBQ), the 10 minutes or so that it took to heat and cook the food drew admiration. I finished up the chicken I had cooked in the oven on the BBQ and we started eating. When we started it looked like we had enough food for about 30, but I was impressed how the food was enjoyed so thoroughly. I actually had forgotten about some corn that I had cooked, and even though the eating had slowed down, they all accepted and enjoyed the corn when Denise brought it out. Even though these people tend to be thin and fit- they can sure eat!
Surprisingly, little beer, wine and sodas were consumed. I guess I'll have beer for months to come. We all lingered on the patio for hours, enjoying conversation and the cool breeze that had managed to come up. By the time 11:00 came, I wasn't even sure that we would get to karaoke. Was I wrong.
We cleaned up the dishes, then Carolina (who proved to be the musical director for the night) got us all inside, and looking over the song list, they started singing. The system is pretty complicated. It requires selecting a USB hard drive from the player, selecting the proper folder and then entering song numbers. Since I had only briefly shown them how it works, I was pretty sure I would have to do all the work. I couldn't have been more wrong. I was a spectator the whole night and enjoyed every minute.
I had found and entered a couple dozen Spanish songs, which they took to with delight. There was a big difference between karaoke in the US and karaoke here. In the states, each singer sings his song. They may be good, bad or positively horrible- but it is more of an individual effort. Here- it was a group effort. Everybody sang and they just handed the 2 wireless mics around from one to another, but nobody stopped singing.
After an hour or so of Spanish songs (and Denise reminded me how happy I was that I found them), they started on good old standards. We had several who accompanied the songs on our conga drums (they finally got put to use). Finally, at about 2:30 in the morning, it started breaking up. I think that if nobody had taken the initiative, they would have stayed all night, and with the fun we were having, I would have loved it.