Saturday Night Fever

Tom Buhr from Green Bay and Yuoper Maria Galeazzi all the way from Norway (Michigan) singing in the shower.

A mustached man from the end of the bar is first to approach the microphone as the seats fill up at the Peninsula Pub on Saturday night. DJ Hope Reyes introduces Dave as, “someone who finally drank enough to get up here,” but he approaches the stage with calm excitement expected from a regular on the karaoke scene.

Two young couples near the stage look on with curiosity at the back of his shirt that reads, “The liver is evil, it must be punished!” Dave stiffly grabs the microphone and looks at the screen to his left as the words to the jazz standard “Mack the Knife” roll across the screen.

Saturday night karaoke at the Peninsula Pub has become a staple for locals and tourists over the five years since it began.

“We do this every Saturday throughout the year without missing one. Sometimes there’s just two people at the bar with me but we still have it,” said bartender Rob Buchner.

Despite the occasional low numbers during the offseason, the Pub recognizes the importance of consistency with weekly events and Reyes devotes her Saturday nights as emcee to those at the bar.

The summer brings significantly more visitors to the Pub with the Door County Trolley haunted pub-crawl. The Pub, located outside of Baileys Harbor and outside of walking distance from most hotels, takes advantage of the trolley that can often bring nearly 100 people into the bar at once. With the high numbers, which often includes wedding parties and family reunions, Reyes worked with owner Kyle Blank to set some ground rules for smooth-running Saturday nights.

“I don’t do the whole ‘sign your friends’ up thing because I don’t want people to be surprised when I call their name. I never want to force anyone to sing,” said Reyes. Some gentle prodding is often all it takes, she joked.

One quirk of Peninsula Pub karaoke, and the idea that gave Saturday nights the name “Shower-oke,” was the installation of a stand-up shower stall next to the stage (running water not included). Karaoke singers have the option of stepping into the shower, adorned with beach-themed shower curtain, to sing their song. Blank hatched the idea after consistently hearing “the only place I sing is in the car and in the shower.”

“It’s for shy people,” said Reyes. “The idea of singing in public is terrifying to a lot of people and the shower is a bit more comforting.”

Although the shower is primarily used as a funny picture moment for visitors, the occasional singer will close the curtain and belt out their favorite tune. Dave was not one of those people as he stood front and center, this time with a harmonica, to add more flavor to the blues classic “Sweet Home Chicago,” which expectedly brought some friendly Chicago banter.

DJ Hope Reyes spins the tunes and has an incredible singing voice as well.

With the season slowing down, the locals start to perform more regularly at karaoke night as the tourist count drops. Small pockets of friends can badger each other to take the stage and when one performer steps up, the number can quickly grow as others in the bar join.

Still, the occasional tourist makes their way into the Pub on a quiet Door County weekend, certainly not expecting a rowdy karaoke night. Reyes’ first goal is always to get new participation.

“I know when my singers walk in. I have my locals but the locals know they take a back seat to the newbies,” said Reyes.

Two young couples sat at the end of the bar watching a college football showdown while equally entertained by Dave’s repeated appearances on stage. Reyes recognized some potential new voices and set out to hook them in. The two women, dancing on their bar stools and singing in quiet voices, began warming up as Reyes ran through a list of songs she hoped would tip the scales for the women to participate.

Calling for another bottle, Jessica Haufschildt of Sherwood, Wisconsin said, “There is no song she could play to get me up there. My family told me years ago that I wasn’t a singer.”

Temporarily accepting this resistance, Reyes brought up bartender Rob Buchner to sing “What Does the Fox Say?” an electronic dance song by Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis. The song, with its comedic approach to different animal noises, turned heads and inspired a few more singers to approach the stage.

Neil Diamond’s bar-scene classic “Sweet Caroline” and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” were soon to follow and from that point, the night flowed into pop hits sung throughout the bar.

Following a busy fall season, Reyes hopes numbers will stay steady through the quieter winter months. Reyes said things begin picking up around January and the running of the haunted pub-crawl trolley marks the true season.

“Hope does a great job for us. She’s good to us and we’re good to her,” said Buchner, who is looking forward to the quieter months after the fall season. “People say things shut down right after Fall Fest and I’m thinking, ‘Walk a mile in my shoes at this restaurant for three weeks after Fall Fest.’”

Sheila Biskupski and Margo Dietman, Dave Burke, Tom Buhr and Maria Galeazzi prove It’s A Family Tradition.

Although the last Saturday in November did not see any singers take to the shower, Blank is playing with other ideas that revert back to the only places people like to sing.

“He’s been talking about putting a car in here. Not a whole car, but the front half so it is like you’re singing while you’re driving,” said Reyes.

Although those plans may be in the distant future, the Peninsula Pub will still have a shower in place every Saturday throughout the year for Door County’s boldest singers.