[My third trip to Lao, November 2012, continued...]
Karaoke is big in Lao, at least amongst the ages of 14 and 40. Most restaurants in the country have karaoke set-ups, whether they are actively used or not. The fancier setups include a TV monitor showing the original artists singing the song, linked to external speakers, controlled by a computerized menu operated behind the bar. More simple approaches are basically just a speaker hooked up to a computer that just has the music and words to the song on it. Most all the songs are Lao Luktung and Lao pop, but not an insignificant amount are Thai Luktung, Thai pop and Thai rock. Even an occasional song in English sometimes makes its way into someone’s collection.
I was especially excited to see that Thai singers and musicians Pongsit and Carabao are both held in high esteem by many Lao. Loso is also heard often.
There’s nothing like watching and listening to beautiful teenage girls get into singing; or girls in their 20s; or even older! Guys get into it, too. Everyone’s having fun, otherwise they’d stay home.
What I found myself doing was ordering two Beer Lao’s (1.25 liter bottles) – they didn’t give you just one. It was considered poor form, I think. And, they wouldn't take your order at your table, either. You had to order at the bar. After getting the beer and ice in a bucket delivered, I’d wait to see what happened cuz sooner or later something would. Usually, I would be invited to someone’s table and end up moving over.
In fact, this is when I decided that I would never turn down an invite, as long as it was practical. The possibilities, should I accept, were not only unknown, but seemingly endless.
Let me step back a bit, to clarify: if a table of two couples invited me over, I would probably decline, as the numbers would not be right with me being the odd man out. But, if there was an odd number of people and/or an imbalance in the male/female ratio, then I definitely would.
Of course, there are always exceptions. There was one time I did not follow this formula and I’m so glad I did not and that I had the guts to see it through… But, that brings me to another thing… Having To Unlearn and then Learn a New Way…