|Friends Xie and Zheng don't let the blues get them down at Coolth KTV in Sanlitun. (CRIENGLISH.com/William Wang)|
In China, karaoke bars and KTV are one and the same. Guests book private rooms where they can scream out the hits without the judgment of strangers. In Beijing, KTV bars run the full gamut, from opulent hi-tech environments down to seedy cramped quarters which more focus on the renting of women than the singing of Jay Zhou. Reporter William Wang visits some of the city's most talked about KTVs to see who's hitting the high notes.
Occupying some key real estate in the basement of Sanlitun's 3.3 Market, Coolth KTV has managed to succeed where a number of other club ventures have not. Its Chinglish name doesn't do much to set high expectations, but in 2009 Coolth in Wangjing raised the KTV bar, setting the standard for every room to have its own unique theme. The newer Sanlitun Coolth continues the trend in a more central spot, with a smidgen more gloss and bulkier customer base.
Oddly enough, prior to this Coolth opening its doors in 2011, KTV presence in Sanlitun was lacking. Its arrival provided a much-needed opportunity for Beijingers to get the hell out of the Apple store and into a multi-dimensional subterranean world fueled by vodka, Bananarama's "Venus" and wavering Teresa Tan covers. Its themed rooms aren't just decorated. They're sculpted. Architecturally, a lot of work has gone into creating these rooms with layered walls, curvaceous ceilings, and mini lofts.
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