When my taxi driver from the airport dropped me off at my hotel in downtown Chișinău, he shook my hand and wished me a good night. His friendliness was typical of the people I would meet in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova. I found the inhabitants of that city to be extremely welcoming — with the notable exception of the two bouncers who tried to keep me out of a karaoke bar.
That bar was called Art Club Karaoke; and my encounter with its overzealous gatekeepers occurred on Friday, May 24, 2013. I’d been excited to enter Art Club, as I was embarking on the most significant evening to date in all of my karaoke travels. After my singing appearance in the Ukraine the previous Monday, I could say that I’d sung in 29 different countries — thus tying me for the distinction of having performed karaoke in more nations than anyone else on the planet. But I wanted that record all to myself. I looked forward to making Moldova the record-breaking 30th country. But as soon as I entered the foyer that led into the bar, the bouncers gleefully informed me that their establishment was closed for the evening.
I didn’t believe them for a second. I mean, really? A karaoke bar shuttered on a Friday night? That just wasn’t credible. Clearly these bouncers were making up stuff, in a lame attempt to discourage me from entering the premises. They had no idea with whom they were dealing. Their tactics wouldn’t work on me.
Pushing back, I advised the bouncers that my hotel had telephoned Art Club just a few hours earlier — and the bar had confirmed to my hotel’s front desk clerk that there would be a karaoke show that evening. In other words, I let them know that I knew they were lying to me. I added that I’d traveled all the way from New York to sing; the unspoken subtext was that I wasn’t about to be denied.
The bouncers withdrew into another room. When they emerged, their story had changed. Now, while conceding that the place was open for business, they claimed that all the tables were already reserved, so that they still couldn’t accommodate me. Still I persisted, explaining that if I couldn’t sit at a table, I wouldn’t mind standing. The bouncers eventually relented and said I could sit at the bar. H-Bomb 1, bouncers 0. It was time to make some karaoke history!
For the momentous occasion, I chose to open with “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison:
My second song at Art Club was “What is Love” by Haddaway. With a packed house full of exuberant young Chișinăuians, it was a fun song to perform. However, much to my later regret, that number was not recorded on video.
With those songs, Moldova became the 30th country on my World Karaoke Tour. I now hold sole possession of the record for most countries on such a tour! And I have no intention of letting up. This November, Peru and Panama will become the 31st and 32nd countries to have had an H-Bomb karaoke appearance!