And so it came that I was in Hong Kong for the last night, and had not yet sung any karaoke. Since I was alone, and singing karaoke alone in a foreign land does not make you pathetic, but strong and brave, and because I was worried about oversleeping for my flight, I made the only logical decision available to me: I would close the karaoke bars on a Wednesday night, pack whilst drunk, and stay up until it was time to fly home.
I started out at My Favor Bar in Nathan Street, a bar whose vodka selection was WHITE WOLF VODKA, the cheapest vodka available on the free market. It is so full of impurities, it has a thickness.
This is my friend Jacky, who taught me how to operate the DIY karaoke system. We sang I Love Rock and Roll, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and Don’t You Want Me, Baby. The barstaff was thrilled that someone who spoke English was singing.
On the one hand, you have to enter your own songs, but on the other hand, there did not appear to be any real stigma to singing again and again. Also, every song has a video. If it doesn’t have a video, it’s not karaoke in HK.
Karaoke is so prevalent that it’s hard to find a bar where it’s NOT offered, but hard to find one where it’s the focus. Out of the three bars I hit, the gain on the mike was so high that it’s best held waist level. The reverb is also turned way up, so you sound like you’re singing in an echoey bathroom. Also, there’s no stage or light, you just sing anonymously from your barstool.
On my way to my third karaoke bar, I cut myself on a glass elevator. This is considered an occupational hazard and is not a cause for concern.
Selection: The English selection holds all your standard favorites:
Centerfold by J.Geils, Spinning Wheel by Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and WHAM’S Careless Whispers. After that, there is an obscene amount of ABBA, Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Richard Marx (!). I was asked repeatedly to sing various Richard Marx songs that I had never heard before. No wonder they think we’re mentally challenged. They think we LOVE Richard Marx.
Facilities: This is a really nice way to say- UNISEX TOILETS.
My last bar was named after my vocal range, which is good because I can’t remember anything about it.
Style: The preferred microphone is wireless, and the preferred delivery is sitting, and the preferred song is Cantonese ballads. These are sung by superstars in outfits that make Bjork look like Kathie Lee Gifford. The Chinese find my style, which involves dancing, various attempts to “work the room”, and make eye contact, embarrassing.
By the way, staying up all night before a twenty-hour flight is a GREAT idea until you actually turn up at the airport at 6AM, strung out and surrounded by Australians.