Karaoke is fun, there’s never any doubt about that. The concept is simple: you blare out terrible renditions of well-known songs into the mic in front of a cheering crowd. But as with anything in life, humanity is in search of new ways of doing things – an approach that also applies to karaoke it seems. Nowadays, we’ve got drag queen karaoke, karaoke with a live band and karaoke with various themes such as, say, disco or Silvio Berlusconi (yeah, it’s a thing).
This brings us onto the theme of Bao Borough’s Karaoke Room, which is KTV (karaoke TV). KTV is the east-Asian version of karaoke, often seen on the late-night scene in China, Vietnam and Japan and involves the music video of the song you’re singing being played out on the big screen in front of you alongside the lyrics. It’s basically SingStar in a box.
The Karaoke Room can be activated with 'disco mode'
The box is located in the basement of Bao’s new restaurant in Borough and has a 14-person capacity, so it’s pretty intimate. It’s got monochrome tiles, red leather sofas and multi-coloured disco lights – in other words, it looks and feels suitably cheesy.
There’s also a tablet on the wall for you to do your food and drinks order from, which will be brought to you by staff. The menu differs from the a-la-carte of the main restaurant in that Bao’s signature dishes come in the form of sharing platters, and the cocktails come in pitchers, making it all very group-friendly. Chow down on the likes of fried chicken, spicy chicken wings and smoky aubergine. You’ll be glad to hear that the lovely bao buns are also available to order.
Bao's signature steamed buns
Now, onto the actual main event: the karaoke. It’s fair to say that the selection of songs is rather limited – you’ll struggle to find a song or artist from before 1985, but if you’re a young crowd, that might not be a problem at all. Your classic karaoke artists (Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton) are not available, which some punters might be disappointed about, but, hey, here’s the chance to find some new classics, right? On top of that, some of the original music videos are missing and replaced by Chinese interpretations that are sometimes entirely off topic and just utterly hilarious. This actually adds to the whole fun though and reinforces the Asian theme.
It’s also worth noting that this is a playback situation, so the songs are played in their entirety with the original vocals included. The volume of the speakers is also quite high but quite low on the mic, so you can’t hear the voice of the person singing very well, turning the whole thing into more of a sing-along. Again, this adds to the fun and is ideal for groups, as the entire team can get up and sing and dance along to the chosen tune.
As it’s situated right next to the toilets, people coming down to queue for the toilets can see you through the only window of the otherwise entirely closed-off room. If you don’t fancy an audience, you can close the curtains, but sadly, the walls aren’t thick enough to contain the sound, so they will definitively hear your group belting out the songs – this is sure to give them a good laugh.
All in all, a trip to Bao’s Karaoke Room can be an incredibly enjoyable experience filled with delicious food, tasty drinks and sore throats the morning after. It can be hired out for a minimum of six people for a minimum of two hours for an hourly charge per person. Lunchtime rates differ from evening ones – lunchtime will cost you £5 per person, per hour, whereas in the evening, you will have to pay £8 per person per hour.
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