karaoke night – korean style
goodbye, berlin. i’m sure one day i’ll be thinking these words. for now, i’m still getting used to hallöchen, berlin. like in paris, you meet your share of other displaced peoples who aren’t sure how they got here and may be leaving soon. and that’s how i ended up at Kim’s Karaoke on saturday night. it’s a small bar in a hinterhaus right by the Mehringdamm U-Bahn station, boasting international, korean, japanese, and chinese. there’s a noun missing somewhere so i assume it refers to songs; the only thing else available is alcohol and pretzel sticks.
this girl i know was told by one of the major postdamer platz conglomerates that she could keep her job if she moved out of berlin. she said no, thanks and decided to move back to paris. i ended up as part of the franco-german contingent on the right side of the karaoke bar for the ensuing celebrations. on the left side, there were three tables full of older korean folk. the playlist went back and forth between melancholy korean love songs and abba’s greatest hits. one of the highlights was Frank Sinatra’s I Did It My Way which was hijacked by one of the french guys who sang comme d’habitude, the original french version, with huge audience participation.
surprisingly enough, after a few beers, the segregation line became a bit blurry. i was hauled out to the dance floor by the president of a berlin korean cultural association. schöne frau! he exclaimed.
out of the dance floor alone, i tried to impress my partner with one of the two korean words i remember from my korean immersion class in culinary school. i can say hey, what’s up and one. my cooking school class had 3 korean guys, 2 japanese girls, 4 americans and 1 mexican who made up the nafta contingent. i really wanted to learn korean but we had other things to worry about like falling souffles. mr. president was so impressed by my one word of korean that he invited me to sing at the association’s gala affair!
the problem being… i don’t sing. i didn’t even sing at karaoke night, where off-tune singing was the norm. can you sing an american song? he asked. at this point i was past the whole singing issue. my mind went straight to free korean food. one of my classmates, now an executive chef, invited us over for dinner once. the memories still make my mouth water. maybe i could hum yankee doodle dandy. if i practiced, i could work out an old negro spiritual. swing low, sweet chariot or a remix. i decided that i would take his contact info and see if i could get anyone i knew to do some sort of performance. if i work it out, the performer and i can come to the event with guests! anyone willing to sing for food?