As a native Chinese, I love KTV. My cultural bias aside, I love KTV for a number of reasons. It’s a chance to sing in front of other people without feeling like a weirdo, and I always feel a sense of release after the night is over.
However, many foreigners are apprehensive about trying KTV for the first time. I’ve been told that many North American “KTV” bars are actually public stages where the entire bar gets to hear the aspiring performer – for better or for worse. Don’t worry; it’s not like that here. You’re in the safety of a private room, surrounded by friends who are just as terrible at singing (or worse).
Here’s a rough guide to KTV:
1. Gather a group of people
KTV places have different-sized rooms that can accommodate anywhere from three to 20 people. It’s your choice if you’d rather sing alone or have a romantic date, but let’s not kid ourselves; the best KTV parties consist of raucous, wailing groups of people. Since there are typically only three mics per room, 10-14 is a good number for those who are still a bit stage-shy or want to take frequent breaks between songs; microphone hogs should stick to smaller groups, where they’ll get more turns.
2. Choose the right KTV place
KTV prices vary widely according to their location and facilities, ranging from RMB 30-200 per hour. Popular KTV chains include Party World and Melody, both of which have a good reputation for service and quality. You can also try Wain Wain – which has great views of Beijing – or Tango, popular with the late-night crowd.
3. Book an appropriate room for over two hours
KTV places usually offer three room sizes: small (xiaobao, 小包) for 2-6 people, medium (zhongbao, 中包) for 6-10 people, and big (dabao, 大包) for 10-20 people. Picking the right size room is crucial; you don’t want to your vocal stylings to be wasted in a cavernous space, do you? Likewise, squeezing too many people in a xiaobao is a recipe for discomfort and discord. Definitely book for more than two hours – you’d be surprised how fast time flies! You can always extend the time later.
4. Sing! And Eat! And Sing!
I am a mic hogger, when I get into the room, I immediately take the seat near the jukebox and start choosing the songs I want to sing. I don’t always know how to sing them, but that’s OK; the spirit of KTV is that nobody is ashamed of their non-professional singing skills. The more you participate, the more fun you’ll have. To sweeten the pot, most KTV places have free snacks or self-serve buffet, as well as non-alcoholic drinks like juice and pop.
So, KTV this weekend?
Photo by Augapfel of flickr