Karaoke Smackdown at local retro lounge The Duce closed this semester’s Discover Phoenix series Wednesday night.
The ASU event at the one-of-a-kind venue treated students to sliders, freshly squeezed lemonade and, of course, a lot of good old-fashioned karaoke.
Journalism sophomore Nick Prete, who kicked the evening off with his rendition of Josh Turner’s “Your Man,” said he thought the event was fun and the venue was interesting.
“Lots of good singers, good food and good fun,” Prete said.
Walter Cronkite School Outreach Director Liz Smith, who organized the Discover Phoenix series this semester, said she has wanted to host an event at The Duce for a long time.
“You can be under 21 and really have a good time here,” Smith said. “There are a lot of students who are truly passionate about this place. We really wanted to introduce it to students who maybe haven’t discovered it yet.”
With a boxing ring, milkshake bar and small movie theater all within the same room, Smith said it was difficult to decide what kind of event to host in such a dynamic venue.
“The Duce has so much to it, it was really hard to choose one event,” Smith said.
Ultimately, it was The Duce’s indoor boxing ring that gave Smith the idea to host a Karaoke Smackdown.
“The ambiance is really just perfect for karaoke,” Smith said. “You just get in here and want to let loose and have some fun.”
Steve Rosenstein, owner of The Duce, said he naturally seeks to partner with ASU as much as possible.
“ASU is an integral part of the downtown community, and so are we,” Rosenstein said. “It’s perfect because we’re open to anybody –– ASU students, the business community, local residents, anyone.”
Rosenstein said The Duce has proved to be a popular destination for ASU students because it’s “truly underground and authentic.”
“We get a lot of ASU students under 21 that just want to get out and dance,” Rosenstein said.
Although karaoke night was the last Discover Phoenix event of the semester, Smith said the series would be revamped in the fall.
“This semester was an experiment,” Smith said. “We wanted to see what worked and what resonated with students. I think we found that.”
Keith Chandler was recently brought on as an events coordinator for the Cronkite School and will be planning next year’s Discover Phoenix series.
“I’m really looking forward to doing this again and doing it better,” said Chandler, who belted Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You.” “The Duce is a great little community. I love karaoke.”
Students who sang at the event were entered into a drawing to win tickets to “American Idiot” at the Gammage Theater, and promotional shirts for the play were also given away.
Prete became a shirt recipient when Chandler crowned him the “People’s Choice” for his performance of The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird.”
“I only hope even more kids come out next time,” Prete said. “The more people, the more fun!”
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