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Beijing's new one-man KTV booths are everything

Sing like nobody’s watching in your own private song cell

As a rule, a course of karaoke is a dish best served under the cover of darkness, alongside liberal measures of alcohol. But now, thanks to the team at MBar and their 2sqm KTV cubicle, casual crooners can enjoy a tuneful quickie in broad, sober daylight.

Once you’re in, all you need to do is scan the QR code and pay via WeChat (20RMB for 15 minutes) and you’re good to go. Select your unchained melodies by searching on the touch screen, don your headphones, crank the reverb to 11 and let rip.

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Tenacious D: early adopters

The repertoire is largely Chinese, though hundreds of English tunes are on offer too, including all the usual karaoke suspects. Your booth is also kitted out with two perches for that big key change, Westlife off-the-stool bit.

You can even take this moment and make it last forever, as it’s also a studio of sorts: you instantly receive recordings of each of the songs you have so wonderfully interpreted to your WeChat, which can then be shared with and rated by friends and fellow singers. The masses scored us a 29 percent for our rendition of ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’. Fair.

Given the transparency of the box – and the enthusiasm of your loud singing – it’s not always an entirely private affair; a small crowd of adoring (or potentially abhorring) fans had gathered by the time we roared into the final chorus of Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’.


MBar KTV There are currently boxes dotted across the city, including at Chaoyang’s Joy City and the in88 mall in Wangfujing; the Mandarin-savvy can find their nearest and reserve a slot – at a discount too – through MBar’s WeChat account (youchangMbar).

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