One of my most fun memories in Vietnam is Karaoke Night at my Vietnamese school principal’s house.
I had been warned again and again about the dangers of ‘karaoke’ bars in the city, so when my principal invited me for karaoke night at his house, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m a bit of a ‘rock star’ back home with a garage band.
Dressed up in ripped jeans and a Nirvana t-shirt, I was solemnly greeted at the door by my principal in his usual dress pant and button down shirt. I entered a traditionally decorated living room filled with a bunch of serious-looking young Vietnamese formally dressed. Feeling a bit of an idiot, I smiled widely at everyone, hoping to win them over with my winning personality.
Everybody nibbled politely at the platters of snacks served by our sweet and polite hostess, and then started on the beer. Half an hour later, our host walked proudly to a big karaoke machine, wheeled it to the centre of the wall, and with a flourish whipped off the flowered cloth that kept off the all-pervading dust. And then the fun began.
All the solemn guests turned into banshees, shrieking and singing at the top of their lungs, completely out of tune, to the incomprehensible music that jumped out from the machine. Then they each took turns dancing and prancing and singing and making total asses of themselves. I could not wait my turn to show off my impressive skills – and honestly compared to them, I was a true Adam Levine! But it was not to be! The karaoke machine was programmed with only Vpop. But, like any true professional, I sang my heart out – singing all my favourite rock songs to the accompaniment of Vietnamese music! The other guests looked completely bewildered at first, but then sportingly (and loudly) started singing the very few Western songs they knew over and over – Thriller, We Will Rock You, Friends, and Pokerface. All to Vpop in the background! The din was deafening, but soon everybody was having the time of their life. Nothing breaks the ice faster than alcohol and men making fools of themselves!
Next morning at school, the principal and I were back on employee/boss terms, although I found it very difficult to look him in the eye and pretend I had not seen him prance around to Thriller.