Fade to grey: the Chinese pensioners drowning out other customers in city’s karaoke bars

Special offers and plenty of free time draw large groups of elderly customers to afternoon song and dance sessions

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2017, 3:38pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2017, 4:08pm

Pensioners have become the most regular afternoon customers of Chengdu’s karaoke bars, proving that they are not just places for the young.

Groups of retirees regularly attend afternoon singing sessions at the Sichuan city’s popular KTV bars

Shanghai-based news website ThePaper.cn reported on Tuesday.

“The old rule is that you sing whatever you want, wait for your turn,” one of the group’s organisers, surnamed Li, was quoted as saying.

The elderly patrons often dance and crack jokes in the background while one of their group is singing.

At one particular bar, over half of its 60-odd karaoke suites are booked out every afternoon by groups of pensioners, reported the paper.

Other bars in the area found that over 80 per cent of their afternoon customers were elderly people.

“The fact is that this phenomenon has been going on for a long time,” said an unnamed staff member at one karaoke bar named Wego Pure K.

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The most popular time for visiting KTV bars is in the evenings so they are practically empty during the day, they explained. “Most people are still at work, so we typically don’t get many customers.”

Many karaoke lounges have special afternoon offers to entice customers in for as little as 40 yuan (US$6) per room. In large groups, this can amount to a few yuan per person.

Cheap prices seem to be a crucial factor in attracting older customers.

“We are all retired and have a lot of free time... For a few yuan each, we can practise singing, have entertainment and improve everyone’s mood,” said one 60-year-old grandmother who was interviewed.

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“In the karaoke bars you don’t have many people disturbing you, unlike when you sing in the public parks,” said another elderly person in a KTV bar.

“Sometimes you feel embarrassed when singing outside, but here you can sing your heart out.”

Many elderly people often enjoy singing the Communist propaganda songs of their youth, according to the report.