Singing in Cafe: It’s more than just singing!


Last Monday, my friend and I were invited to perform at this new, middle-class cafe called Jams Cafe. It is still fresh and just opens its very first building and restaurant in Jatinangor, Sumedang, West Java. Anyway, it is constructed upon the wild, yet mild idea of my seniors in English Literature UNPAD. With their vast passion in music and people’s performance, they built it with the pleasure of classy food and beverages served.

For your information, I do love singing. I mean, singing is not far different from delivering what I feel rather than “saying” it. But I have never performed in a cafe, for christ’s sake. Although I have performed in front of a (pretty) large number of people–which is at this so-called art-related performance at my senior high school that I would prefer call it PENSI (Pentas Seni)–I have never before sung in a cafe.

So, what is so terrifying about performing in a cafe?

You will never know what kind of people you are going to face when you stand on stage and have to sing. There would be many people smoking, not to mention the girls. or guys I would never see with their gadgets hanging on their hands. Or a couple of newly weds with their babies and toddlers. At the moment, I fell into a lapse of nervousness that made me barely think of anything.

Shortly, there were only a few people that night eating out at the cafe, which settled me enough, though. I stood on the stage and found out that this was what cafe singers would look like. I grasped the microphone, gazed to my guitar-playing fellow, and started to sing. It was…swell. Nothing happened.

But this.

When I just finished doing one song, a pile of Chinese-looking persons looked at me in an arduous way. I could barely realize that perhaps I had done something wrong, or hit off tone. As I hit the final tone of the song “Pandangan Pertama” by RAN, one of those slanted-eyed people rose from his perpetuatingly-structured wooden bench, and gave a piece of paper to me, saying “Lyla – Jantung Hatiku.” This was the first request! Yeehee! Nevertheless, I couldn’t settle because the name of the band was pretty much peculiar as to my dull experience of singing. And it was Indonesian song, which I don’t give really much care about. Teehee.

So I asked my fellow whether or not he knew the song, but he didn’t, as well. Two seconds after he kept the words on the paper, he saluted his forefinger and seemed to think hard. Maybe he was trying to memorize the song or whatever, but I, truly, didn’t know the song. I looked out the audience, and the man who gave me the paper seemed a little bit strenuous, for I took (maybe) too much time to think about the song’s melodies and the cords.

At last, my fellow gave up, and I announced that I couldn’t retrieve the song because I barely remembered the lyrics, which was a kind of lame reason. C’mon! You’re a cafe singer, I self-centeredly cried to myself. SIngers who would sing at public place would have remembered ALL songs, indeed. Never mind. I settled and smiled. Never did it come to my mind that when I announced my failure of the song, the man, as well as the others, directed their heads at me with their eyes zooming.

“Sorry, kita gak hafal lagunya. I’m sorry. We don’t remember the lyrics.” said I.

“Maaf, bisa ulang lagi? Pardon me, would you say that again?” one of the girls in the group revealingly shouted to me.

“Kita gak hafal lagunya. Jadi mungkin kita ganti dengan lagu lain. We don’t remember the lyrics. So perhaps we would change the song with another.” And a sudden shame feeling mounted into my brain, shivering my body.

“Oh, gak papa. Oh, never mind.” said the same girl with her eyes rolling, and leaned her body back to the table where her meal was.

Like the girl, the other people at that table leaned their bodies back almost altogether at a time. I continued singing with a feel of uncertainty and uneasiness, for that should have been much more appropriately put. As the time jetted, I sang 20 songs that I would never stop. Maybe this was the comfort of being a singer, in a cafe especially. You can sing as much as you want, even if you feel like not doing it, and nobody can complain about it. People in cafe would just eat their meals, or hang out, or do anything else while listening to the glancing music playing in the background.

And I came to love it even more than now.

In short, from this moment, I think of taking a vocal class not only to endorse my that “dull experience of singing” thing, but also to…enjoy people. I would memorize songs as many as I never thought I would count and maybe try something bigger. This is what I have often belittled from the past days. I do have gone to some cafes and see some singers who have a wide range of vocal, which I think they would have been probably better to be professional singers on stage at TV or other media, not in cafe. But that is what the whole point is about.

Singing is how you can enjoy both yourself and other people. Not only does it lead you to a rich, not-so-crowdy atmosphere where you can sing a head-voice, falsetto, or even whistle voice. It’s about how people can direct their heads toward you and hear you sing while they have food to eat and things to share.

At the end of the day, while walking toward the Exit Door, though feeling a little bit dissatisfied, I saw these people’s faces watching me walk and smiling in an inexplicable way.



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