RVIP Lounge & Karaoke Cabaret got its start in 2007.
Kestrin Pantera and Jonathan Grubb—a couple who, brought together through the power of karaoke, and now married—wanted to have the “awesomest party there was” at SXSW (South by Southwest), but it had to be cheaper than a hotel room which their budget would barely cover.
And so the Karaoke RV was born, Laughing Squid reports.
They “tricked out a (rented) RV with a karaoke rig and cases of top-shelf liquor”, drove around downtown Austin during the festival and parked outside other people’s parties, and opened their doors to anyone and everyone who wanted to sing their hearts out.
They became a huge success.
And each year they make it “bigger and ballerer”.
Born out of a desire to celebrate technology, independent film, and music through the combined forces of karaoke, carpooling, and spontaneous rockage, RVIP is as much an art project as it is transportation.
Pantera and Grubb, along with new team member and partner, Disney Imagineering CTO Scott Watson who adds layers of technology, magic, and fun, RVIP takes online community and unites people in the flesh.
While twittering location updates to friends and followers, the trio drives the RV, complete with a mobile karaoke lounge, to venues where people wait outside in long lines, and invite unwitting bystanders aboard to sing their hearts out.
A by-product of RVIP’s mobile nature is a safe ride to parties, screenings, and events.
As people move from one party to the next party, the lounge became a kind of late night public transportation karaoke carpool, shuttling friends and colleagues to the official events, the unofficial afterparties, the late night city tours, the early morning breakfast stops, and finally back to their hotels when the sun got too bright to keep going.
And now the RVIP Karaoke RV is ready to take the country by storm.
And then, thanks to the generosity of entrepreneur Tara Hunt, who heads Buyosphere, RVIP had an RV to call its own, Tech Crunch reports.
Hunt gave them a 27-foot Winnebago because “she liked what we were doing and wanted us to do it more.” And so they have.
The team has systematically demolished and rebuilt the interior of the vehicle to maximize its Karaokeing Capacity, and spent much of last year driving it to events across the country, making appearances at venues including TC Disrupt SF and the Sundance film festival.
The people behind the RVIP recently purchased a second, much larger RV (a 37-foot Diesel Pusher), to expand their potential reach—and participants’ shoulder room.
They’ve announced that they’re turning their passion into a full-fledged company. The papers have been filed, they’re fully insured.
Pantera, an actress and musician by trade—who has worked with Weezer and Beck and has made appearances in films that debuted at Sundance and Cannes—is the company’s CEO.
Grubb, who cofounded Get Satisfaction and Rubyred Labs and was previously head of Lookout Mobile Security’s product team, will take the helm as the RV’s chairman, builder, and driver. Grubb was most recently the lead product designer of Isis, the mobile industry’s NFC solution — he quips, “I feel like I’m leaving the hottest industry in the world to have parties all the time, which is awesome.”
Rounding out the executive team is Watson who will keep his position at Disney while he simultaneously works at RVIP. Watson is responsible for converting the RVs into the best karaoke machines they can be—and some of the techniques developed for the RVs are being incorporated into Disney rides.
RVIP Lounge & Karaoke Cabaret
The RVIP Lounge is a mobile karaoke unit housed in a renovated RV, which serves as equal parts transportation and entertainment (Transportainment). They recently announced that the RVIP Lounge has left the hobby-zone, and is now our full time pursuit.
RVIP, for me, is an obsessive labor of love. I hope that the friendships forged here expand beyond the RV, beyond the karaoke, into someplace where people feel an exhilarating sense of love, creativity and liberation.