Standing outside the establishment, right in the mouth of busy Timog, I, along with my classmates and friends patiently waited for the signal to pay and enter the club. This club is a different one, one that is ultimately alien to me.
A group of middle aged women walked past us, obviously annoyed by rowdy teenagers congregated outside such establishment. I wouldn’t blame them. It was after all, a peculiar sight. We were told the gates would not open until about 10 minutes later. Once we were given the tall order to pay apt fees, we waited for a few more minutes to go in.
It was agonizing standing outside the gay bar. It was an agonizing and a little embarrassing at the same time. I swore every single vehicle that passed by looked at us with judgmental eyes.
I’ve been passing by the club for almost my entire life. Not too far from it is my grandmother’s house. Growing up, my brothers and I would always poke fun at the club for obvious reasons. Being inside more than 10 years later was a different experience.
We entered and the bouncers outside reminded us that videotaping is not allowed. I found this instruction a little funny because earlier that day, a frantic classmate posted a link of a Youtube video of gigolos from the club performing what seemed to be a harmless dance number to the tune of a Korean song that went viral a few years ago.
The club was dark—unusually dark. Unlike the clubs that I’m familiar with, this particular club was so dark you couldn’t see where you were walking. The only thing lit in the entire room was the stage. I’m guessing this was a ploy for you to focus on the stage and have the privacy to do your business on the couches and tables. There were disco lights that were staples to any club. No strobe lights though. No dubstep or house music blasting through the speakers, only cheesy DJ sounds.
When we entered, the first two men were almost done with their set. I was pretty shocked with their outfit alone. The two buff men were donned in tight-fitting polo shirts and unbelievably short denim shorts. (I still am pretty convinced that those were women’s shorts.)
While the men “danced” on stage, I tried to look around at the crowd. Apart from us students, there were about 6 or 7 other people around. Behind us was a lonely looking middle aged man. In the table beside him was what looked like a married couple in their 40’s with another man who was about the same age. In the far corner nearest the door we came in through, was a couple of old gay men. The sofas near the stage were pretty deserted. Save for one couch that was occupied by the three middle aged women who we saw earlier.
Sitting in a table of around 10, I could not believe that I was actually sitting inside a gay bar with my classmates and professor.
Half of the time, my head was turned away from the stage. I just could not bring myself to actually watch the macho dancers. One of the few times I actually turned to look at the men on stage, I witnessed one stripper actually stick his hand into his navy blue thong.
I instantly felt my eyes grow wide with disbelief. Did I just really see that?
I guess from that point on, I was able to observe more. Being that I just saw an almost naked man stick his hand in his underwear, I thought what the heck.
Two men would dance for five minutes until the DJ would mumble and announce the next pair to grace the stage. That night, we witnessed around 12 men go on and off the stage—and every single one of them had the same blank, glassy look in their eyes.
What I couldn’t help but notice was this sadness in each of the dancer’s eyes. They were “dancing” to cheesy music while their eyes were staring blankly into space. I couldn’t immediately tell what the blankness in their eyes meant. I was guessing it was a mixture of sadness and indifference.
The men were not bad aesthetically. They looked like they had spent a lot of time in the gym achieving Adonis bodies. (no pun intended) They also appeared to have invested in male beauty products to make their skin appear flawless. My friends and I also couldn’t help but notice that most of them didn’t have hair in areas where a man normally has hair.
“They all look so sad” we kept saying all throughout the night.
Each time the dancers would finish their sets, they would step down from the stage and enter a dimly lit doorway at the side of the stage. Some of them would come out a few minutes later, sit down by the couches and watch their co-workers. Other dancers would walk around the place, seemingly looking for a customer to interact with.
Every time a dancer would pass by our table, I would get nervous. Before entering the club that night, my friends and I each asked the question “Anong gagawin mo pag tinabihan ka?”, to which all of my friends had answers to. I didn’t. I just didn’t know what I was going to do if it happened.
I looked around at the little crowd that had already been there at 10 pm on a Saturday night. The middle aged women seemed to enjoy their front row seat with their bottles of beer. The lonely looking man seated at the table behind me seemed to cringe every time a dancer would pass by. The couple and their friend looked emotionless, quite frankly. Behind them, the gay men each held a cigarette, occasionally applauding the dancers on stage. What a weird mix of audience.
Ultimately, my focus was on the gazes of the dancers. It seemed to speak so much of how they felt about what they were doing. If indeed I was correct in thinking that it was a mix of sadness and indifference, then they are probably doing what they are doing out of necessity.
As in any job that is considered obscure, I believe that the dancers of Adonis were in the job out of necessity. My best theory is that a lot of them are struggling artists or male models. They had the looks, but maybe not the opportunity just yet.
I’m not sure if my hour inside Adonis was already enough for me to see and experience firsthand the gay bar scenario in the heart of Quezon City. I’m quite sure that it gets wilder once the clock strikes 12.
On my way out of the club with my friends, we were greeted by a tiny dog walking towards the entrance. The dog was dressed in all things—a rainbow colored shirt. Being allergic to dogs, I stopped out of reflex. My friends however, were too amused and found the dog extremely cute. We were taken aback when my friend jokingly said hello to the dog and we looked up to see one of the strippers smiling at us saying “hello” back. It was quite an awkward moment honestly. We gave him our awkward smiles and walked away.
While walking to our car parked in the establishment next to the club, we saw another one of dancers. He was loading what appeared to be toys into the trunk of his car. I was again taken aback when I saw that his car had a sticker to our subdivision. He well may be one of my neighbors! That thought scared me a bit, to be honest—and only because he might recognize my face when we see each other in church.
Margarita A. Contreras