강남가라오케 literally means “empty orchestra” in Japanese. This refers to the fact that amateur singers with a microphone sing by following the lyrics presented on a screen and accompanied by a song track with low or no vocals. It is a popular form of interactive entertainment, with karaoke machines featured in many bars and restaurants as well as parties and events.
Karaoke may have originated in Asia, but it has become a hit with other nationalities as well. Aside from being a good icebreaker, karaoke singing is a way of socializing with friends. It also provides inexpensive full-scale entertainment without having to hire professional singers and DJs or renting expensive sound systems.
Karaoke singing can be done in various public venues. Asia has its karaoke boxes, which are small to medium-sized rooms equipped with a karaoke player, tables and couches and rented by the hour or half-hour. KTVs have one or more floors of karaoke boxes and offer amenities such as food and drinks. In fact, karaoke singing is a common after-office activity, which is taken advantage of by some hotels and business establishments by having karaoke boxes in the premises.
Karaoke bars are to North America and Europe what karaoke boxes are to Asia. Here, singing is done in public, sometimes on a small stage. People usually sing for free, provided they order food and drinks. Some places charge a small fee for each song.
In any case, these places do not need to hire professional singers to provide the entertainment. Nor do they pay a cabaret tax, which is usually applicable to any entertainment of more than one person. Some place like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto have significant Asian communities, which is probably why private karaoke rooms are popular here.
A karaoke contest or a karaoke show can liven up parties, events and gatherings. A karaoke DJ (“KJ”) can be hired to facilitate this, while a karaoke machine can be rented, along with at least a couple of microphones and a selection of songs, for this purpose. More songs are available for an additional fee, as well as a monitor, but the latter is not necessary if a TV with A/V input is available.
Some people are fond of karaoke, but don’t like going to KTVs or karaoke bars. Aside from renting the equipment, buying a home karaoke system is another option. Portability, sound quality and programmability are some of the qualities to check.
Nowadays, karaoke entertainment is popular, not only in Asian countries but in other parts of the world as well. It can be enjoyed at home and at private functions by purchasing or renting a karaoke machine. It is also available in many public venues such as bars, clubs, restaurants and even hotels and business establishments.