When Sean asked me if B and I would attend his girlfriend’s surprise birthday party, I was excited.
When Sean told me it was a surprise birthday party at a Korean karaoke bar, I was confused.
Nevertheless, B and I dutifully arrived at the bar on time, along with our friends Brad and Megan. We approached the storefront, which was in a strip mall, and rang a doorbell to get inside. Within seconds, a woman greeted us, then led us through another door and into the establishment.
Once inside, I became even more confused. To the left was a little bar, with stools and a small wine and beer selection. Ahead of us was a long hallway with numbered, closed doors on each side. It was silent, except for a quiet radio playing behind the bar.
“Are we in a massage parlor?” I whispered to Megan.
The woman opened the door labeled “4” and motioned us inside. There, we found a long conference table in the center of the room, surrounded by a cushioned bench that ran along three sides of the room. Large televisions hung on opposite walls, streaming videos ranging from a dog chasing a frisbee to a recorded Korean concert. A karaoke machine sat on a smaller table, and a light hanging from the ceiling projected effects across the room. Only then did I understand how it worked. It was just like regular karaoke, except we had our own private room!
Little by little, partygoers filed into the room, filling the benches. We perused the song book, eventually finding an English section. Finally, Sean and his girlfriend, Lisa, arrived for the party, and the karaoke really got underway.
At first, it was a little awkward singing in such close proximity to everyone else in the room – I mean, it wasn’t that large. Alcohol definitely helped people loosen up, though, and by the end, there was a lot of perspiration and group vocals.