One Taipei experience that is not to be missed is karaoke. That desperately nerdy and tacky of artforms has been commodified and transformed into the most amazing night out by the enterprising folks at PartyWorld. PW is a chain, with karaoke centres dotted through Taipei offering the McDonalds equivalent of karaoke, but doing it all with extraordinary style.
The PartyWorld that me and my new Taiwanese friends headed to was a 15-storey state-of-the-art complex offering Karaoke for a group of any size, at any time, literally around the clock. So if 50 of your closest friends decided they wanted to croon away to Britney at 4 o'clock on a Wednesday morning, most cities would leave you struggling. Not Taipei.
The ambiance and design of the PartyWorld building is pure class, and it looks much like a five-star hotel. The exterior is grand, the staff are all immaculately dressed in tuxedos, stunning chandeliers illuminate the lobby, and mahogony wood finishes to the seats are hard to ignore. This is no greasy back-alley karaoke joint. This is where Taipei's beautiful people go to impress each other, with a microphone in hand.
Three hours after we entered, the five of us left with our bellies full on the all-you-can-eat Taiwanese buffet which took pride of place in the central area on our floor of the building. 20 or 30 small rooms shared the floor with us, each a private little karaoke booth. It's not hard to imagine that if the karaoke business turned bad, it wouldn't take a lot of effort to convert the space into another form of glitzy late-night hospitality. All in all, a great, if a little bizarre, night out.