Sunday, August 12, 2012

노래방 - Karaoke!

Noraebang, or NLB for the proud speakers of Konglish, is the Korean version of what seems to be an Asian trend: private rooms for friends to rent out for an hour and sing all the latest pop songs (or any song they like, really). They're usually BYOB, so anyone can get over "stage fright" before the evening really gets going. That said, noraebang makes for an excellent party space or just a fun place to chill and hang out.

Julia and I got "토네이도" (Tornado) desserts at Lotteria!
My first experience with a karaoke room was in Taiwan (where it's called 卡拉-OK), but the selection of English songs was paltry. Here in Korea, even the smallest of 노래 연습 방 (Yeah, some of the "classier" NLB are called "singing practice rooms" instead of "singing rooms") has hundreds of hits from the American songbook.

NLB was on my Korea bucket list, and I wanted to knock it out early on -- with friends from Orientation -- especially because I'd need some experience before my principal and co-teachers invite me out to a 회식 (hweshik, or dinner meeting that is commonly followed by 노래방). It was a couple of weeks into Orientation before I finally had the time and energy to spend a night out. It was the night after our placement ceremony, and I wanted to celebrate. My friends and I went into town (tiny little Goesan...) and hit up the Lotteria first. Lotteria is like the Korean version of McDonald's. I really wanted to try a "토네이도" (Tornado), which is like a McFlurry but much, much smaller. In fact, serving sizes of everything in Lotteria were rather meager. But I guess it keeps Koreans from overeating the way Americans do. Non-Olympic athlete Americans, that is.

After Lotteria and a quick round at B&B, it was NLB time! We went to a place called "스카이 노래 연습 방" and got a room for two hours for 30,000원 (a little less than $30). Because there were a dozen of us, it turned out really cheap for us all, so that was great. And then... let the singing begin!
Tyler and Sara jamming to Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend". Yup.
We didn't even try any of the Korean songs, except for one, but I didn't know it, so... oh well. Most of our time was spent in 90's pop, Disney songs, and "Call Me Maybe"-esque fare. My favorites were probably "Lady Marmalade" from Moulin Rouge, Blink 182's "Semi-Charmed Kind of Life" (although mid-way through the song I got really embarrassed because I remembered what the lyrics were actually referring to...) and "Colors of the Wind".

It was almost one in the morning when we finished -- I haven't been awake that late for the past month -- and we walked back to campus, singing Adele and the Pokémon theme song very loudly. All in all, it was tons of fun! Just the kind of thing I needed after a stressful week. I'd like to go again, but I don't think I'll have time, because Orientation is almost over. Who knows what it'll be like if I actually have to go to NLB with my colleagues? I swear it's a thing here. I guess I'll look forward to it, if it's anything close to this!
Toward the end of the night (like... 12:30am-ish), everyone was up and dancing. I forget what song this was, though!

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