Now, I have been to multiple noraebang ("singing rooms") in Korea, but I must say the softest spot in my heart is for the one we frequented in Andong, there in lovable Ok-dong with the woman who I developed quite a rapport with throughout our year of late night arrivals. The place is tiny, cheap, and a little dingy, with a convenience store cooler-like fridge of beer in the lobby. It's like home. If home had squat toilets and a few disco balls.
Here in China the karaoke magic happens in KTV establishments. Due to our whirlwind of activity these first few months as well as the general (and annoying) tendency of most people I know to not want to go singing every week (I mean, why not people? Really, why not?) I had not even been to KTV yet (I know! the horror!) until last night.
But about last night:
Wow! This was our company party for the center where I work, a reward for hitting all of our sales and numbers targets for the quarter. The place we went, apparently a favorite of our staff, is quite the posh karaoke joint. First, you walk down a wide, marble-like hallway lined with aquarium walls -- fish on one side and sharks on the other. I mean, they're little but geez! And no, I do not approve whatsoever of imprisoning little sharklets but I'm just trying to convey the sort of "glamorous" approach this place takes. Then you check in at a desk that looks more like a hotel reception. I happen to know that our center director made a reservation for our group, although I don't think you have to do that. Then, we go into our absolutely palatial suite. Did I say suite? Why yes, there was more than just the room with couches and tables -- there was also a wet bar and a private bathroom. (With a western toilet!) The biggest screen was HUGE, and there were two smaller screens on each of the side walls. Then we got a printed menu (Chinese and English) and proceeded to order beer, and bottles of wine, which were brought to us along with wine glasses (!) by uniformed service staff. Our snacks included things like M&Ms, popcorn, noodle dishes, and god knows what else we ordered up, plus fruit baskets -- really beautifully arranged with the fruit of many colors all carved in spirals and whatnot.
Meanwhile, rather than punching numbers into a grubby keypad, you have a touch-plasma screen to scroll through and search by artist or title (with Roman alphabet options) as well as a one-touch button to move your song to the top of the queue, which by the way you can see on the side of the screen the whole time, or minimize if you prefer. Note: I do not approve of skip-your-song-to-the-top features any more than I approve of the sharks, as they are constantly abused despite a noble effort to keep the Chinese-English-Chinese-English rotation balanced.
Needless to say, I won't be spending all of my hard-earned yuan at this place, but when the boss is paying? Yeah, fill up that wine glass and let's sing!
For those interested in the set list, I believe I was involved with Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne, "The Loco-Motion," "American Pie," "Single Ladies," and "Waka Waka," among others. But I may have been at my
I would not really like to discuss the hangover with which the KTV gods saw fit to punish me this morning. Didn't someone once say that there's no such thing as a free night of luxurious karaoke? I have certainly paid the price.