As Monday was Mid-Autumn Festival, I was told on Friday that we were going to celebrate it that night with Karaoke. I had been well aware that as I was in China, it was only a matter of time before I’d find myself standing in front of a TV with a microphone in my hand. This however made the prospect no less daunting. I have always possessed a horrible singing voice, and so although I was looking forward to having fun with all the others at Lotus, I was a little apprehensive too.
No one knows for sure why karaoke is such a huge part of popular culture in the Far East compared with the rest of the world, but one thing is for sure – it is huge. You only have to walk down a street in Beijing to notice how popular the pastime is, as everywhere you look you will see ‘KTV’ written in large neon letters.
The venue we chose to go to was enormous. It had a large bar area, with a buffet restaurant and a huge corridor running from the restaurant. On either side of the corridor you could see people belting out classics in private rooms. It was interesting to see that in some rooms the audience were rolling around in laughter while the singer(s) crooned, yet in others they sat still and sober, diligently listening to the man or woman with the microphone. It seemed to me that the atmosphere of KTV can vary hugely, and it can be both a laid-back and serious affair.
I am pleased to say that after we were shown to our karaoke room, and a few drinks had been had, I took my turn to sing a song and had a great time. It didn’t seem to matter that I followed some of the excellent singing of my Lotus colleagues with tone-deaf screeching.
I would thoroughly recommend anyone who spends time in China to go to a KTV bar and try it out, as not only is it an important part of Chinese popular culture, but it’s also a lot of fun. I would also however recommend that they choose their songs carefully, as I experienced firsthand the terrible moment of realisation that the song you have chosen to sing has a chorus with a brutally long and sustained high-note…