It has been a long time since I have been to a Karaoke place or Nori Bang (노래방). It has also been the first time I have been to one stone sober. The place was massive. We were put in room 1976, which I think was the number of rooms there were. The crowds were mostly in their 20’s but I did see some older people as well. There was a grocery area in the middle of the maze of rooms. The ‘store’ had a wide range of booze and instant noodles. While walking, there were sounds of people singing; poorly.
We were taken to our room and went in. Two wireless microphones on the table surrounded by black couches. A 60 inch TV screen was in front of us and speakers around us. The sounds were deafening. My friends started singing while I sat slouched on the couch. All the songs for the night were in putonghua. Everyone sang in groups or on their own. My friends were kind enough to put on “Yesterday” by the Beatles but, well, I didn’t want to sing in front of my new friends alone. We had booked 2 hours and my friends continued to sing through the time.
Half way through, I walked out towards the washroom. Along the walls were posters in Chinese with drugs in a big cross through them. There were blurred pictures of half naked people basically emphasizing anti-drugs and sex in the rooms. The rooms I walked by, had tables filled with bottles of whiskey and beer. At the washroom, people were leaning and smelled of drink. Walking back to the room, everyone was looking at me with curious looks as if to say “why are you here?” I love that look.