There comes a time in your life when you need to kiss any dignity you have goodbye, pick up the microphone and belt out 'My heart will go on'. Where would you most likely do this? In a Korean Noraebang (노래방) of course!
I have visited these singing rooms three times thus far during my two months here in South Korea. Each time brings new experiences and good laughs with mates. Last night (Saturday) I got back from a friend's birthday party in Hwamyeong, which consisted of good old-fashion Korean BBQ, followed by an intense Noraebang session... as you can see in the video. Samantha and I have Celine down! :)
As you arrive in the building, your ears are met with renditions of K-Pop songs, and sometimes, unfortunately... a Bieber number. The host shows you to an available room which is usually kitted-out with couches, a table, a disco ball and flashing lights which would leave any person feeling like a star! Soon after, he sets you up with snacks, Soju and beer. I am always surprised by what snacks we will be brought during each singing-session. It's like taking a lottery! When I unashamedly killed 'Uptown Girl' during my staff Noraebang session, they served us fresh fruits, nuts and chips. Can I just mention that there were strawberries on that mega fruit platter too!
Anyway, I digress! So once you are served with snacks, you are drawn to explore the Noreabang song-book. I have can't read Korean (yet) so I generally choose a cheesy English song. Two mates of mine can read Korean and sorted out the square-remote with too many buttons for my liking. The remote is aimed at a receiver thingy under the large TV screen at the front of the room, numbers are entered using the remote and BOOM, your song starts to play!
At this stage of the session we are grabbing one of the two microphones, watching the screen and waiting for the first words to show up. Being a radio kid, I love how the cheesy (but awesome) levels are turned up to let off hectic echo from the mics. This can get addictive as my friends can testify. I was talking into the echo-mics, just because it's so cool speaking 'in echo'! On the table you can also find.... wait for it... tambourines!! I love instruments and I lurrrvvv getting straight into some beat banging as my mates sing an old number.
Last night was excellent because as the evening progressed, we found ourselves shimmying in the background with our tambourines, acting as if we were Dream Girls, or Madonna's back-up singers. And can I just say that we don't only sing back-up, oh we get down too! Sometimes twerking is even added to the festivities...
By the end of the evening of Korean noraebang, for two hours in the dimly lit haven for wannabe Celine Dions, the bill came up to 34 000won (around R340 or $34). Korean noraebangs are a hit here in Korea and they're so much fun! You can find one just about anywhere!
My advice to anyone here in Korea or still coming across? Pick up that mic and let rip on the small dance-floor! Shame is always left at the Noraebang door on arrival; pick it up on your way out.
Are you a big Noraebang/ singing room fan? What do you enjoy most about the experience?