Ever wonder what goes on inside a KTV club?
For many westerners, a KTV is just a simple karaoke bar offering an evening of singing, dancing and drinking, yet the culture of KTV clubs is more complex. These establishments are split into two very distinct sectors; one offering a good night out and the other offering much more of good night out.
Adult KTVS offer plenty of erotic entertainment and have become an embedded part of Asian culture. Most commonly found in China and used as a way for businessmen to build strong ‘guanxi’, KTVs are as popular in Asia as strip clubs are in the West.
In this feature we take an in-depth look at what a KTV club is and what goes on inside one. We’ll also look at the culture of the KTV club in Chinese culture as well as their role in other Asian countries.
And, of course, we’ll answer: how do KTV clubs work?
What is a KTV Club?
KTVs, or Karaoke Television is a style of club where the entertainment is centered around a lively evening of singing, drinking and having fun with a group of friends, family or business partners.
Unlike a Western karaoke bar where you basically end up in one big room full of strangers, KTV clubs in Asia (specifically in China) offer private rooms for hire where guests can host their own parties.
They are extremely popular in Hong Kong.
Often paid for by the hour, you can find clubs with small rooms for up to 6 people or larger halls where you can bring along 20 or more guests.
There are two distinct kinds of KTV clubs around Asia; those that are family friendly and those that aren’t.
Both kind of venues operate in a similar way to hostess bars of Japan and will offer the company of a selection of ladies to help make your evening get off with a party atmosphere. Though not compulsory, many people enjoy having the services of a professional hostess to help boost their numbers and make things livelier.
KTV clubs are popular with all kinds of people from making great venues for a first date to being an ideal way for business colleagues to unwind.
Sort of a rent-a-companion, women here are paid to keep their guests entertained and this can include everything from joining in with the singing, dancing and partying through to offering (in the case of an adult KTV) more personal services.
However, their main role is to make sure that everyone has a good time and drinks and eats as much as possible. The more money they can encourage guests to spend, the more money the club earns. In fact, some the women at KTVs are paid commission.
KTV clubs are most popular in China where there is a distinct culture of how these businesses operate (see The KTV Culture of China, below). Used by wealthy businessman to entertain clients, the women who work in these establishments are attractive and are fully trained in their role of professional entertainment companion.
Competition to work for the most reputable clubs is high and so too are standards.
Whilst women who work in KTV clubs may well be paid to continue entertaining guests after they have left the venue, they are not prostitutes but skilled hostesses who are hand-picked by the best clubs.
Some of the best KTV clubs in the world are members’ only venues with VIP guests including celebrities, top businessmen & entrepreneurs, socialites and ambassadors.
What Does a KTV Club Look Like?
From the outside, many KTV clubs look like nightclubs or casinos and are often lit up with neon lights and plenty of dazzling bulbs.
More suited to Las Vegas than their surroundings, most will have a grand lobby that often looks like an old-school movie theatre. Guests who have reserved ahead for large groups or who are well-paying regulars are usually met at the door by the manager who is accompanied by a line-up of girls.
As you arrive, you will be shown to either the room you have booked or to an available space; usually you are taken by one of the lead girls.
The room will definitely contain some comfortable seating and tables as well as a few TVs and/or large screen TV along with a computer which has all of the karaoke songs pre-programmed in.
You will also find mics and speakers with adjustable volume control. Most modern KTVs in larger cites will also have some additional high-tech equipment such as AC and mood lighting (flashing lights, disco ball etc.).
More often than not, one of the girls will wheel in a kind of shopping cart which is loaded up with snacks and alcohol; sort of like a bigger version of a hotel mini-bar, you will obviously be charged for what you use but it will be well stocked with everything you need for your evening including liquor, mixers and cups. Other clubs may also offer a cigarette/cigar cart as well but remember these (again) will be more expensive here.
Larger rooms in some clubs may even have a manned bar in each room as well as private bathroom facilities.
How Do KTV Clubs Work?
So what happens in a KTV club?
Once you have been shown around the room’s facilities and started to get comfortable with a few drinks, a selection of hostesses will be brought in for you and your guests to choose from.
Usually they will all be wearing a similar ‘uniform’ with some KTVs having a themed outfit. Most times, the dress will be a standard, slinky traditional Chinese dress with one shoulder bare and a slit up one leg.
Usually the ladies will be holding numbers (or these may be pinned to their dresses) and these are often color-coded for billing purposes. They vary by club but Yellow may be the lowest prices and Red the most expensive (for instance) so do be aware of the difference if you are paying the bill.
Once the hostesses have been selected, they will come and join the group for the duration of the evening. Oftentimes they will change into more comfortable clothing at some point of the evening.
The primary role of a hostess in a KTV club is to keep guests entertained within the establishment for as long as possible, encouraging customers to consume more (highly priced) alcohol.
Principally, the karaoke itself will be the main form of entertainment but there may also be several other games being run at the same time as the singing. This is typically some form of dice or card game but may be a drinking game initiated by one of the hostesses. It may seem rude to Westerners but is quite common, especially in Chinese KTVs.
Depending on the mood of the club and how ‘adult’ the entertainment is, you may find some of the girls getting a bit more friendly with the guests.
In China, this is very different to the strip clubs of North America and Europe where touching is not allowed and you will find that the girls will get pretty hands on with their guests.
Girls may strip for you, perform lap dances and even just sit on your lap, lean back and encourage you to explore their bodies.
These extras are chargeable so if you are paying the bill then always be sure to find out how much she is charging first.
However, this kind of physical contact should always be initiated by the girls themselves as management are always on hand to deal with coarse behavior. If you are intending to invite your hostess to your room then it pays to be a gentleman rather than a drunken slob.
Some KTV clubs also have their own complex of private rooms where you can continue your adult fun on the premises or you can arrange to take a girl back to your hotel.
It is important to note that not all KTV girls will have sex with guests or perform any sexual services in the club or after the party is over. Many will and are open to negotiation but this is down to the individuals themselves and how you have conducted yourself within the club. Manners are very important to any woman but are particularly important in Asia, especially China.
And that’s it really.
KTV clubs host parties where you can rent a companion to help you enjoy the experience. Some hostesses will provide more personal services if the club is an adult-entertainment venue and others are open to continuing this kind of treatment back at your hotel room.
Rooms are hired by the hour and paid for up front with a bill to settle when you leave which includes the cost of your food, drinks and hostess services. If you are arranging some extra fun then you usually pay by the ‘shot’ (ejaculation) so short-time is just one round of sex whereas long-time is typically two and may include an overnight sleepover (until 6am).
The Ladies of a KTV Club
As already mentioned, the ladies who work in a KTV club are in competition with one another and demand for the finest looking and best-educated girls is high. Some of the top KTV clubs pay very handsomely and there is a real incentive to provide top-quality service.
The best clubs are usually the most expensive but the higher the charges you pay usually ensures you get the very best experience with some of the most beautiful and well-trained women in the business.
Firstly, they need to have the right looks and the right age for the establishment. Many clubs employ women in their 20s but some specialize in offering the companionship services of more mature ladies in their 30s and 40s.
All will typically come from a middle- or higher-class background and be well-educated with those working in the larger cities often having a good level of English. Not all clubs cater well for foreigners so it is worth checking this out in advance.
Often models, students or white collar workers, the women must undergo a series of interviews. In some cities, and in the better clubs, there are reports that there are up to five different meetings before any woman is employed at a KTV establishment.
As well as assessing their looks, physique and personality, employers are looking for cultured, educated and skillful women who can perform roleplay for their guests. Lastly, the nature of the job means that having a good tolerance for alcohol is a must!
Once a girl has been appointed at a club she has to undertake some training. This involves learning the tricks of the trade in how to keep men entertained whilst keeping them drinking. There is an etiquette to how to behave which must be learned and some skills to acquire.
When training is complete, girls will be categorized into a price range depending on how highly they will be prized by guests. Prices are based on appearance, level of skill and experience.
Demand for the top hostesses is high and they can command some pretty exceptional rates for their company and not just for the extras after they leave the club with you. It’s reported that some of the top earners at the most popular and elite clubs can be earning as much as $1,000 per night.
However, this is more the exception than the rule but most will be earning a pretty decent wage. So much so that the girls who work for the best clubs do pay a fee to the management to work there.
It is not uncommon for girls who are seeking a partner to work at KTVs as for some it is a good way to meet successful businessmen and middle managers.
How Many Girls Work at a KTV?
Depending on the size of the venue, you can find a staff of a few dozen to a few hundred ladies working in a single KTV. Think about it this way; each of the private rooms is hosting a party where at least two or three ladies will be entertaining. If a KTV has ten such party rooms then guests will need at least a choice of 30-50 ladies.
In rural areas, the choice is limited but in metropolises like Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou you may have the choice from up to 600 women.
How Much Does a KTV Cost?
There are lots of separate charges for enjoying a night out in a KTV and this breaks down into:
- Cost for the room hire
- Cost for the company
- Cost for food and drinks
- Cost for extras
- Cost for personal services
Prices vary massively depending on where you are in Asia and how extravagant you are being with the entertaining.
Some girls will also ask for tips and extra payments when you are alone but the price you have agreed should be what you pay.
The KTV Culture in China
The culture of entertaining clients in a KTV is a huge thing in China and the majority of businesses operate expenses accounts for their middle managers for this very purpose.
Either a way of impressing visiting business partners or potential clients, an evening out will usually end up at KTV where the host will ensure that his guests are well entertained.
Known as ‘guanxi’, the culture of social networking and gaining currency through entertaining well is often more highly prized than actually being good at your job. Making strong and profitable business connections in China is greatly influenced by prestige so you should not underestimate how powerful this can be.
Booked in advance, your host will usually arrange up-front with the KTV club manager how the evening should pan out and typically they will pay for everything. In some instances, a memorable night out at a KTV with a Chinese host hoping to impress you can cost many thousands of dollars.
KTVs Across Asia
Though KTVs as they have evolved today originated in China, they do exist in various guises throughout Asia.
Most will offer exactly what they say they do, namely a night of karaoke entertainment with the company of a rent-a-companion of offer. However, many do borrow from the format of China and will offer more adult entertainment.
It is reasonably obvious from the location and hoarding of a KTV which of these it will be but, if in doubt, you can visit our various country and city guides to find details of the best adult KTVs to visit. Taxi drivers and hotel concierges can often point you in the right direction; if in doubt, just ask.
In Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand KTVs are usually more family-friendly with only a handful offering adult services whilst those in South Korea and Taiwan usually being more adult-orientated.
Featured image via Wikimedia.
Interested in More of Asia's Hidden X-Rated Secrets?
We have published 14 country profiles, 18 local city guides, and hundreds of hours of research for your reading leisure. It's all 100% free. Get started with our quick links below...