What’s with all these hidden gems in Toronto with the secret doors? Just like One Hour Cafe, you will no doubt miss the tiny little door leading to Studio Lounge. At this point, you may be wondering if Culture T.O. staff simply scan and search for establishments with miniature entrances. Speculate all you want; there is no denying the recent correlation between these uniquely styled doorways and great, fun joints.

Upon entering studio lounge the neon lights hit you and you really get the feeling you’ve stumbled upon something unique. The stairway is tucked away and slightly hidden and it reflects a huge theme for this karaoke bar and lounge; privacy. There are few places better for having an intimate singing and drinking experience with your closest companions.

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Studio Lounge is an exceptional private karaoke bar for the uninitiated. There are many reasons why the curious patrons choose this particular location for their first karaoke experience. As is the theme with many of our reviews, we at Culture Toronto find that it is the people that make an experience in the end, after the appearances and decor. While you already love the people in your party, those facilitating your enjoyment at Studio Lounge will win you over as well.

Before we get to breaking down the qualities and quirks of Studio Lounge, let’s take a look at the culture and history surrounding the private room karaoke experience. In many Asian countries, karaoke is more than just something to do.

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Private room karaoke has become ingrained in the culture of traveler hotspots like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Busan.

It isn’t just an experience reserved for special occasions either. Many people enjoy private room karaoke bars as a way to bond with friends, build camaraderie with their coworkers or to simply sing their hearts out to their favourite tracks. It’s been common for decades now all throughout Asia but these quaint bars have started creeping into even the most crowded downtown bar and lounge strips.

Now for all you extroverts who love to belt out a few chords to an audience rather than in the privacy of a karaoke room amongst friends, you might wonder why anyone would want to visit a place like Studio Lounge. The simple answer is that privacy and seclusion offer two key benefits: a controlled atmosphere and a place for even the most introverted partiers to let loose and enjoy their friends’ company. Many people immersed in Toronto nightlife complain that unknown elements and overly drunk patrons can ruin even the best of nights and this is something we know we’ll never have to deal with at Studio Lounge.

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During my discussion with Jason, the manager at Studio Lounge, I decided to ask about his experiences in Toronto’s nightlife scene. He really zeroed in on my comment about drunk and aggressive patrons dampening the mood. “What you said, Sean, pretty much describes my experiences in clubs,” said Jason. Jason along with his partner and co-manager Grace are the two people responsible for Studio Lounge’s unique feel and atmosphere. They always greet patrons with warm smiles, and provide excellent customer service. Jason expanded on his experience, “I am just not a club person. Especially after a few drinks, I can get a little paranoid.  I am always watching out for friends and want to make sure they are okay. I want to make sure everyone gets home safe. I am usually very quiet if I do end up at a club, and pretty much just observe. I will, however, do private room karaoke.

"I’ll sing, I’ll dance, I love to drink and can get pretty crazy too.” Jason laughed, “It only happens because this is all happening in a safe environment, in a private setting with people that I know.”

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The rooms in Studio Lounge are vibrant and very visually stimulating. It’s decorated with colourful lights and lasers, and of course there are comfortable couches for your tired drunken behinds. Without question, my favourite feature of the rooms is the multiple displays. Typically, the TV screen displaying the video and lyrics is set up facing the couches that fill the borders of the room. Studio Lounge, however, is a little bit different. It boasts a beautiful back wall display screen that gives me the freedom to stand up, face my audience and put on a show. This is perfect for borderline narcissists like myself, who enjoy an opportunity to indulge my inner performer. Hat down, Michael Jackson styles.

After my visit to Studio Lounge it was pretty clear that this was not an East Asian (only) style karaoke bar. Many of the karaoke bars that have sprung up in the last ten years have a very decided Asian feel and often employ staff with excellent foreign language skills but often poor mastery of English. Jason believes that the cultural and language barriers are the key reasons why private room Karaoke never went mainstream in Toronto.

“If English speaking patrons walk into a karaoke lounge, and the server cannot even communicate in English, how can private room karaoke ever become popular?” Jason rants.

Jason went on to discuss the importance of customer service and atmosphere.  By treating guests with hospitality and courtesy, most patrons, even some of the rowdier ones, tend to mirror staff behaviour and become more respectful.

Many partiers and frequent karaoke guests are also unaware of the pedigree that comes with Remy Martin sponsorship. Remy Martin selects only the finest establishments as any place that receives their sponsorship is representing the Remy Martin brand to a degree. The fact that Studio Lounge is the only karaoke lounge in Toronto to receive their sponsorship is a testament to the quality of the experience they deliver to their patrons.

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Studio Lounge doesn’t have a strict age limit. Whether you’re a high school student looking to have some clean fun with friends or a Bloor street banker trying to find a place to let loose with coworkers, Studio Lounge has something for you. Be sure to call ahead of time to make reservations and inform them of your party size and age range to ensure you get the best possible service they have to offer. Ultimately, if you want an experience that is as different as it is fun, you owe it to yourself to spend your next night out at Studio Lounge.

Sean Wang

 

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