When Baby Ketten Klub opened last September, it gave a permanent home to John Brophy’s much-lauded, long-roving karaoke night, which had previous regular popups at bars like Mississippi Pizza, Double Dragon, Kelly’s Olympian, Valentines, and such retired hipster havens as the Woods.
But the real action at the SE Powell basement bar started in December, with the opening of Baby Ketten’s decade-themed private rooms. The brown banquettes and hexagonal tables in the ’70s room (fits up to 15, from $60/hour) could host an Ice Storm-esque key party or spur a sudden interest in macrame, while the wall-sconced ’80s setup (fits up to 10, from $40/hour) could be straight out of Less than Zero.
“I spent all last year going through Craigslist, going through vintage shops, going through estate sales,” Brophy says, “finding things that I thought would work and filling up my garage, and then piecing it all together and building out stuff.”
And his garage is still full, even after the rooms are fully decorated. Why? A lot of it was bound for an intended third room, a space that ended up becoming Baby Ketten Klub’s arcade room (complete with four pinball machines, Big Buck Hunter, Pac Man Battle Royale, and a photo booth) instead.
“We had a ’90s Saved by the Bell room that was going to be the big space,” says Brophy, “but we had to nix it just for construction and budget purposes.” The two existing rooms had their own hiccups, too, while Brophy’s team figured out their climate control. “When we first opened them ... we were having to run them with the doors open because they were getting a little hot.” They sorted out the individual settings earlier this month, and now the doors can be closed.
While singers may lack that perfect setting to channel their inner Kelly Kapowski or A. C. Slater in a private room, Baby Ketten’s main karaoke area welcomes all comers, with well-timed spurts from smoke machines and Ketten’s famously curated song lists. Brophy hopes the private rooms and main floor will prove symbiotic.
“It’s giving people the option to go from a private singing situation to a public singing situation, in the same night in the same space, which is nice,” he says. “Maybe their reservation is at 10, so they’ll come in at 9 and sing in the public space while they wait for everyone to show up. And then they’ll go into their room. And when their hour or two hours or however much they’ve reserved is over, they’ll come out and maybe sing in the public space again."
We don’t recommend putting up songs in the public space while you’re in a room, because then we’re looking for you,” Brophy warns, “and it’s kind of double dipping.”