|The Precisions are strictly live music entertainers. However, these days many Doo Wop crooners, oldie cover and
so-called tribute groups are opting for performances that are characteristically karaoke. In place of live music, they
use prerecorded instrument backing tracks. Some of these performers rely on pre-recorded background vocal
tracks, as well. Karaoke has traditionally been the preferred medium for amateur singers. There is one place
known as a mecca for "wanna-be" singers. Where they can sign to their hearts content. Let's visit Party World
What sort of karaoke joint offers 18 kinds of bubble tea but only one Abba song? If you're a Chinese immigrant living in metropolitan Vancouver, then
you've probably already been there: Party World KTV; a branch of the Asian karaoke chain, which looks as if a wedding cake-inspired UFO had just
landed in the middle of this majority ethnic Chinese city.
It's a popular destination for anyone looking to warble a favorite Chinese pop song, accompanied by
music videos occasionally set in the Ming Dynasty and frequently featuring people crying.
With thousands of songs in Mandarin and Cantonese, platters of cured beef and a maze of private
rooms packed almost entirely with Chinese immigrants, the Richmond, BC satellite of Party World, long a
karaoke staple across China, is a crooning microcosm of Canada's rapidly shifting urban cultural
Channeling their Inner-Diva
"KTV is crazy fun because you can act ridiculous together," said Jeffrey Hou,20, a student at the
University of British Columbia, as he waited for a private room with a large group of friends, all of whom
were of Asian descent. Mr. Hou said he did karaoke every few weeks, with a well-practiced set-list that
includes Eminem, Taylor Swift and Linkin Park.
In the spirit of the art form's cheesiness, his friend and fellow university student, Evan Wang, 20,
confessed to a preference for Christmas songs.
For many of Richmond's Party World customers, crooning on a couch for around $18 an hour is a chance to relive their youth and a rare )or frequent)
opportunity to let loose their insanely talented inner diva.
Upstairs, in the Empress Lounge, a karaoke bar outfitted with fuchsia chandeliers, copious amounts of alcohol and booths facing a gigantic projector
screen, four cellphone salespeople had gathered for an evening of song and beer. "We came here because we can drink, " said Bang Ben, 28, a
Chinese immigrant whose parents sent him to Canada to study six years ago, and who regularly sings karaoke, "Twice a month for sure, no lie."
Later Wang Yeng, one of the other party-goers explained why Chinese tend to favor heartbreaking solo performances, in contrast to Westerners
preferences for raucous group renditions of say, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."
"Asians are introverted." he said. 'We hide our emotions inside, so KTV lets us express our feelings about sad times, like high school breakups."
"This totally takes me back."
For most of the evening,his co-worker, QiQi, 23, a woman from China's coastal Jiangsu Province, kept quiet. "I'm shy," she said.
But even Ms. Qi could not resist Party World's siren song, or at least Celine Dion. As the theme from "Titanic" began to gush from the speakers, she
grabbed the microphone and let it out, singing as if no one were listening, even though they were.