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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Singing at the top of their lungs “Oops! ... I Did It Again,” “Material Girl” and “What Makes You Beautiful,” six girls stood — microphones in hand — belting, laughing and dancing the night away.

It seemed like the girls were in their living room, surrounded by sofas, ottomans and a big screen TV, shedding inhibitions with each lyric.

Then, they opened the door.

The room that made them feel at home was rented from Stage 7-KTV, a new private karaoke-room venue and bar that celebrated its grand opening Friday.

Stage 7, 4110 SW 34th St., Suite 1, is open from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday.

Patrons can reserve private soundproof rooms with high-end karaoke equipment, mood lighting, microphones, a speaker system, furniture and a large screen TV. Stage 7’s bar sells snacks and serves alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.

The venue offers varying sizes of rooms that can hold up to 30 people. Prices per room range from $19 to $119 an hour depending on the day of the week, time and room size.

Cecilla Padilla, a 20-year-old English and theater sophomore, was one of the girls singing at a birthday party during Stage 7’s grand opening weekend.

“It’s great for college students,” Padilla said. “Pricing wasn’t too expensive, and you can bring big groups with you.”

Founders Martin Elkins, a 24-year-old UF business administration graduate student, and Wei Fan, a 24-year-old UF alumnus, met at The Entrepreneurship Club at UF in April of last year.

Fan wanted to bring his knowledge of the Karaoke TV — abbreviated KTV — craze in China to the U.S. So, he partnered with Elkins, who has experience with American bars and clubs, to create Stage 7.

In Asia, Karaoke venues are more popular than bars are in America, Elkins said.

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“It’s everything you want to do at karaoke, but not in front of strangers,” he said.

There are more than 50,000 songs to choose from in several languages including English, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese and Filipino.

Jisoo Kim, a 20-year-old UF biology sophomore, said she often sees the karaoke bars on Korean news. The venues are extremely competitive, sometimes lining entire streets.

She has been to places like Stage 7 in Orlando and Jacksonville with her friends and family for stress relief and relaxation, singing in both English and Korean.

“It’s just fun bonding time,” she said.

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