The bass turns off, the lights go on and the club comes to a standstill. The smoke from all the cigarettes gives the Chinese guy holding the mic a dramatic entrance and as he shouts something hysterically all eyes turn to the huge boxing ring in the middle of the dance floor. It was time.
After a long, exhausting week at school a night in heels by the speakers wasn’t my idea of the perfect Friday night, more like a massage and a movie. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in Taiwan it’s that they take hard work very seriously and play even more so. The club has incredible décor, a DJ flown in straight from Sophie’s iPod and perhaps most interestingly – a boxing ring.
Security guards and referees appear out of nowhere and I manage to squeeze through the crowd to the front of the ring. There’s another announcement in Chinese and the 2 regular club goers step inside wearing gloves, a helmet and a mouth guard. The referee blows the whistle, the music goes up, people drink and cheer. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. After 3 rounds it’s obvious the guy on his back is the loser, the referee hands the winner a line of tequila shots and a bottle of some sort, the bass returns and the cigarette smoke disappears.
This process continues throughout the night and with an amazing DJ blasting out tunes I never ever thought they’d have heard of on the other side of the world (would you risk it for a chocolate biscuit?) I dance till the sun comes up, screaming at the losing opponents and egging on my male friends to get in there and get us some free drinks. Taiwan knows how to party.
The next morning, awoken by the Trash Truck that comes past twice a day (1:30pm and 6:30pm) to collect rubbish, my feet hurt, my throat hurt and my head was banging. But I didn’t care. Today was KTV day. What’s KTV I hear you say… Well my friends, only the most amazing place in the entire world. Picture this. You pull up outside a very posh hotel building. Go through the glitzy gold doors to be greeted by the receptionist who asks your reservation name. She tells you you’re in room 410 on the 4th floor. You take the glitzy gold lift up there and open the door. Its not a hotel room. It’s a lounge area, complete with ridiculously comfortable sofas for 15 people, tables, 50 inch plasma, and most importantly – 2 microphones. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Karaoke Television. The free buffet is just outside and caters for all 3 of your daily meals, including croissants, ice cream, fries, spaghetti carbonara, spring rolls, coffee and beer. On the black and silver tables there are 2 folders, one lists 1000 songs in Chinese and the other in English. You use the small computer to the left to input the songs you want to belt out to and they appear on the screen one by one. It was 3pm. I scoured the file for Beyoncé, but was later told her songs were too hard for Chinese people to sing. Nice. So I chose Lady Marmalade, took off my shoes, stood on the sofa and was transported back to the night before. We had the room for 6 hours and the 11 of us ate, drank and sang our hearts out. I actually sang so much I lost my voice for a little while (nothing a bit of free ice cream couldn’t handle).
It was strange being sober and singing like a complete idiot in front of people. Back home, most people would never dream of doing such a thing unless heavily under the influence. But here in Taiwan, there are children and adults alike, all piling in for some good old karaoke fun. For the grand price of £8 you can eat, drink and sing as much as you can. And after representing my home country with as many songs as possible (think ‘walking 500 miles’, ‘flying without wings’ and ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’) we were sadly booted out. Everyone made their way to Red Bar where the birthday boy with us managed to (somehow) wangle a ‘buy one get one free’ deal. I then spent the night drinking 2 Coronas for a pound, singing far too loudly to all the Beyonce tracks they put on (which heavily increased after my first stunning performance let me tell you) preaching about how amazing London is (I do this a lot when under the influence) and attempting to teach people dance routines from times of the past I try to deny and repress when sober.
If last weekend was a weekend of culture and history, this weekend takes the crown for ridiculous amounts of crazy carousing and making new friends. I wonder what next weekend will be…