Me and Chairman Mao
10.16.2005
  Sing along.
Saturday night we went out and had a quintessential Asian experience. Yes, we went to karaoke. Unlike the States, where karaoke generally takes place in a dive or near-dive bar that's selling Old Milwaukee for a dollar a glass as a special and where the entire process usually involves eight or ten people, only one of whom can actually sing, rotating continually onto the stage to butcher a variety of Eighties classics and country songs, karaoke in China is ... well, it's just better. First of all, instead of being on a stage in the corner where your singing annoys anyone in the bar who aren't there for the karaoke--that is, most people--in China you get your own private karaoke room, which is much better. Plus, while the quality of the karaoke places obviously vary, the most popular places are really nice, with marble, chandeliers, and the whole bit. We went to Party World!, which is definitely one of the nicer places, as you can see.

Here's the lobby:





Here's the hallway outside our eight-person karaoke room. (Each room also has its own bathroom right outside, which is also nice.) That might be the smallest room they have, but they definitely have bigger ones. One time in Beijing we were in a room that could hold 50--it was basically a small bar, complete with a big stage, couches, tables, and even a disco ball, which was sort of cool.



The karaoke setup, including a TV playing the most annoying video/song I have ever heard--that little cartoon guy was bouncing around and singing something in a high, Alvin and the Chipmunks style voice. It was great. Luckily, he stopped singing once we started selecting songs. The computer screen on the right is how you pick the songs, of which there were--thankfully--tons in English.



Needless to say, you can get drinks and food delivered to your room. We got plenty of drinks--watermelon juice, water, pop, and of course beer--but stayed away from the food. Some of it looked good, but as you can see, some of it didn’t. It's hard to read, but this particular page offers "seasoned duck's necks," "fried chicken gristle with chili flavour," and "seasoned duck's chins." I know, I know--ducks have chins? Who would have guessed?



One constant in karaoke seems to be that the videos make no sense whatsoever. This one--for a song I assume you all know--seemed to have a lot of shots of people who shouldn't have been wearing spandex riding around on bikes. Luckily for you, I never managed to get a picture of that.



Holly singing a Chinese song by some famous Chinese singer whose name I have completely forgotten, and wouldn't be able to spell even if I remembered it. (Note the many cans of Tsing Tao on the table. Beer is apparently a karaoke staple in Asia as well as everywhere else in the world.)



Everyone, sing along!



And that, my friends, is our karaoke night. Why no pictures of me? Because I cleverly kept the camera in my pocket at all times, meaning that no one else could use it to take a picture--or, God forbid, a video--of me singing. But if you must know, when it was all said and done, I sang duets with Holly on both "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day and "Float On" by Modest Mouse, and for my big solo number did Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."

Crazy little thing called love.

Crazy little thing called love ...
 
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