If you eat out in Thailand much, chances are you've eaten at MK, the ubiquitous and beloved steamboat (a.k.a. suki) restaurant. It's found in virtually every shopping center. It's so popular, the larger malls have more than one.
I've eaten there loads of times, but only recently did I see ... the MK staff dance.
At the stroke of 7:00 p.m., the entire wait and bus staff began to dance in unison. Part classical Thai dance, part YMCA, no employee in sight escapes its reach. I wondered if they were also dancing in the kitchen.
It turns out YouTube is teeming with videos of this. Have a look for yourself:
I understand the theory behind it. A little show to entertain the patrons. Back home, the waitstaff birthday song is a staple in chain restaurants of the variety that give kids coloring crayons. (I don't enjoy that either, by the way.)
The MK dance is a bit much for me, I'm afraid. At dinner the other night, the look on the face of one girl was so pained that she may have been passing a kidney stone at the same time. I can't be sure.
So for me, this doesn't enhance the customer experience. Looking around, not a single employee was showing that genuine Thai smile we're all familiar with. There were a few embarrassed half-grins, but most were stone faced. It was just all too obvious that this is compulsory and not enjoyed. Maybe they enjoyed it the first 1,000 times. :P
According to a recent article in the Nation, some patrons find the MK dance so much fun that they have formed a club to join along. Now that I want to see.
Call me a boring westerner, but I filled out a comment card telling them that I don't think they should force their employees to dance. It wouldn't have bothered me so much if they didn't look like they were hating it.
The dance changes from time to time, too. Search for "MK dance" or "MK restaurant" on YouTube for loads more clips.
MK is one of my favorite chain restaurants in Thailand, though. But they should stick to the hired performers for song and dance routines, as seen in their now classic TV commercial:
Have you seen the MK staff dance? What did you think?