Today’s Korean word is noraebang (노래방) – meaning “singing room”. I absolutely love noraebanging! Yes, I like to make up words. Just roll with it. While I’ve only been to the ones in Koreatown in NYC and my actual Korean town of Uijeongbu, they are all equally fantastic. There’s nothing better than tearing up (in a good or bad way) your favorite tunes while being shown random videos that have absolutely nothing to do with the song you’re singing. Here are my top 5 reasons why I love it so.
1. Price – Last weekend, a group of 8 friends and I spent 5 hours singing the night away for less than 60,000 KRW (about $52 USD) total. That’s less than 2,000 KRW (a little more than $1 USD) per person per hour. And this was one of the more expensive places in my city. If you’re strapped on cash and want a night out with friends, go to a noraebang. It’s an inexpensive and fun way to pass the time.
2. Privacy – Unlike the public display of “karaoke” you’re likely accustomed to back in the US, noraebang is much more private. You can sing incredibly off-key at the top of your lungs in the privacy of your own mostly sound-proof room. All of the rooms are set up like living rooms with a banquette of couches and a table in the center. No need to worry about the judgmental guffaws of strangers, you’ve only your friends to entertain. Sing that incredibly emo song with reckless abandon – no one outside of the room will be the wiser.
3. You can have whatever you like! – You can bring in your own food and drinks. And since this is Korea, those drinks can most certainly be alcoholic if you choose. I especially love having birthday parties here since you can bring in your own cake, sparklers, and whatever else you want to enjoy. Many places will even provide you with chopsticks, plates, cups, or napkins for free. Now, that’s service.
4. Wacky extras – A few microphones and tambourines are pretty standard fare at most places, but some places are known to throw in a few extras. My favorite spot gives away complimentary ice cream and has a drum set and stripper pole in most rooms. Even the most prude people will open up with a pole in a private room. Trust me on this one.
5. Keep the party going! – I’m not really sure how these places make their money because they’re so inexpensive and it seems like they’re open all day and all night. I know a group of friends that left the noraebang well past 5 a.m. one weekend. It’s almost like they never want you to leave. Let’s say your pre-paid time is running low and you’ve only got 4 minutes left… Somewhere around minute 2 the counter magically goes back up to 50 minutes – free of charge. This has happened to me quite a few times in one visit and is the reason why it’s so easy to be there for 5 hours. Say it with me now, “service-uh”!
If you like open mic night or doing Karaoke, then you’ll probably enjoy noraebang. Head to your local Koreatown (or town in Korea) and have a blast.