Tuesday, September 30, 2008

노래방 파이팅!

Every now and again, a normal night out at the bar turns epic. You know this. The change can be shocking. Last Friday, I was at my usual haunt with the usual crowd, ordering my usual drinks from the usual bartenders, and chatting up the same questionable blonde girl that I see at the usual bar every single time I go there. She is, to some extent, a human B.A.C. machine, commencing conversation with her (as I do every damn Friday) pretty much means I am no longer capable of driving, if driving were an option here. Then somebody, likely me but maybe one of my friends, mentions the noraebang. The night just got interesting.

I’ve spoken of the noraebang before, and if you are familiar with the concept, feel free to skip this paragraph. Noraebang (노래방) directly translated means “singing room.” It is Korean karaoke. However, unlike karaoke bars in the U.S., there is not one bar with a stage, but a series of private rooms that hold anywhere from 2 to 20 people. Unlike the rugged individualist West where one could walk into a karaoke bar alone and make a drunken ass of oneself in front of a large group of strangers, the collectivist East runs rooms like these, where one goes with a group of friends to make a drunken ass of oneself in front of only one’s friends. Noraebangs sell beer, but it is outrageously overpriced, so nobody (at least no westerner) goes to a noraebang before getting railroaded, and everybody smuggles booze in and the guys that work there never try to prevent this, despite the fact that the customer obviously has 6 litres of beer under their T-shirt.

Anyway, only three people, all dudes, were in to the noraebang idea, so clearly it wouldn’t due for us to get our own room to serenade each other. I suggested we that we crash one, thus making our noraebang adventure much more interesting and cheaper, ie, free. We headed off to a nearby noraebang (they’re on pretty much every corner in this country) and attempted to walk through to the hallway to the rooms. Unfortunately, as we walked the wrong way at first, the guy that worked there was on to us instantly. He asked us in broken English which room we were in. We ignored him, and started walking down the correct hallway (taking our shoes off before entering the hallway, of course, we aren’t jackals) to the rooms. He followed us, still asking where we were going. Our plan seemed doomed to fail.

My buddy Martin, in an absolutely brilliant move, whipped out his phone and started pretending to talk to a nonexistent friend that we planned to meet. The noraebang guy kept asking us where we where going, but Martin, in an Oscar-worthy twist, held his finger in one ear while yelling repeatedly into the phone “I can’t hear you. What room number?” Two random Koreans, on cue, walked out of a room just in front of us, and Martin said, “Okay, I can see you now,” and hung up the phone.

As the strangers walked out of the room, we walked in to a large group that seemed as excited to see us as we were to see them. The group accepted us instantly, and Martin and Ryan offered to go buy some booze, which the group of Koreans were also happy to hear. Probably happier than they were to hear our renditions of American rock songs, as none of us have much aptitude for K-pop. After a half hour or so, most of the Koreans still in the room were asleep, so we took our leave. Still, I’d like to think that while making our night with silly random drunken party-crashing, we also made the nights of the crashees.

These people are all total strangers

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