Watching a room full of drunk people sing along to a Backstreet Boys song while filling out a trivia sheet somehow seemed so natural when it happened, even if it’s a bit hard to imagine. “Trivioke” is the collision of your two favorite late-night activities: trivia and karaoke. Jan 23 brought Trivioke to Boombox PVD as a new monthly tradition for those on the hunt to belt out the lyrics to classic songs and simultaneously flaunt their knowledge of pop trivia. This new fusion competition was dubbed by MCs John Taraborelli and Desiree Nash, but was originally the brainchild of The Dean Hotel’s branding and culture director, Aarin Clemens.
“We were really looking for an easy-going after work event that the locals could enjoy,” said Clemens. “As a hotel, a lot of what we do at The Dean sort of caters to out-of-towners visiting, but this allows us to really program for the locals. And I just love that it becomes a highly competitive team sport!”
Six teams of four packed into the main lounge area of Boombox, which felt like just the right number of people. Some teams, like “Farts & Trolls 420” came for the casual laughs, but others, like the competitive “Team Denim Jackets” (the very first to sign up) are veterans to both the mic and trivia sheet. The francophile “La femme dangereuse” sported chic clothing, huge sunglasses and notorious bad(ass) attitudes.
Gray Jones of “Gary Busey as Buddy Holly” said, “I’ve always just loved that Providence has this small town feel. Intimate places like Boombox really add to that. It’s a great place to come when we have guests because it’s just so unique.” When asked if they were fans of trivia or karaoke more, the team laughed and Gray said, “We’re just Boombox fans!”
The night started out tame enough, with nobody really knowing what to expect (myself included). All anyone knew was that there’d be trivia and karaoke with a fully stocked bar less than 10 feet away. Who could argue with that? The first two rounds featured your standard trivia with a lean toward pop culture. Each team had to properly identify an SNL celebrity impersonation for round one (“I can see Russia from my house!” anyone?). And in round two, called “You oughta’ know,” teams had to show their general knowledge of no-brainers like, “What is the first element on the periodic table?” Tell us: ARE you smarter than a fifth grader?
By round three, everyone was liquored up just enough to get to the good stuff: Based on a written clue of a commonly misquoted song, teams had to identify the song, find it in the karaoke song book, and sing it properly for their crowd of adoring fans.
In between and during rounds, a few mics drifted from MCs to players and from team to team. The main television in the lounge kept rolling popular karaoke songs. Individual contestants and whole teams would erupt into spontaneous renditions of whatever popped up. It was in these brief stretches when the element of competition faded and gave way to good old-fashioned drunken debauchery. Most of the players wanted to win, but everybody came to have a good time first and foremost.
Contestants stayed well past the scheduled end of Trivioke to mingle with their opponents and keep singing. And of course, they kept trash talking even after the final tallies came in.
The Dean Hotel opened its doors last April, and along the way has introduced gems like a German-style beer hall (Faust) and of course, the Korean-style karaoke lounge that fans have been mobbing every weekend for months (Boombox). Find it all on 122 Fountain St, PVD. Keep an eye on Boombox’s Facebook account for updates on next month’s Trivioke, which will happen on Feb 20.