We finally arrived. I stepped down the van together with my emotionally distressed classmates worried of what was yet to come. We all wondered what we could experience there. All we had to do was to wait for time to pass by.
The first thing that I saw is the sign of Adonis which was really disturbing as it featured two symmetrical statues of David, which is a ripped man showing his entire glorified ripped body including his male genitalia, shockingly holding a dildo on their hands. The entrance was somehow hidden unlike other bars which even have neon lights on their signs to in order to show themselves to the public more. It didn’t look that grand for me as it looked like an old place from the outside especially because the sign itself is low quality. We waited for a lot of minutes until we finally got in.
I wasn’t expecting the place to look differently from what I instantly thought of. There are no tall round chairs that are near the bar and no bartenders. The place is much darker. The stench of cigarette was widely present in there. There was a platform with two poles and a small runway in the middle lighted by spotlights. At the sides, are doors – at the left is where the restrooms are and at the right is the dressing room of the dancers. In front of the stage were couches that looked very expensive on simply the first look with small tables in front of them. There were only some normal-looking tables which placed at the back, and if compared to the couches and small tables, are inferior in numbers. The place looks like it was specifically designed for show viewing purposes and minimized its interaction purposes. It didn’t look like the bar at all. It can be quite confusing as it looked more like a strip club, only with guys as dancers. Maybe there’s just a difference in the way Filipinos interpret what a bar should look like with what the Americans think of, but I’m pretty sure it looked like a strip club. This was unexpected as it didn’t fit what I had in my mind. So, what I hope wouldn’t happen, would later on happen, and it wouldn’t be nice, that’s for sure.
Guys, who are good looking and looked very buffed, went up the stage and started to dance to slow songs the bar played. They were wearing white sandos, slippers or boots, and very short jeans-looking shorts. These dances were quite weird as they looked like dances from strippers, only, it’s altered to show the masculinity of the dancer. Most of these dancers looked very impassionate. Their faces looked very straight-faced and were looking at the wall. Their eyes looked very serious and showed no glimpse of joy as if they’re staring into space and thinking of life’s most difficult questions. A possible reason for this is they’re already accustomed to the job they’re doing as they kept on doing the same routines every weekend if not every night. It can be quite boring for them to do the same thing over and over but if that’s what will give them good money then they’ll simply have to dance for it. Some dancers danced very stiffly while others are really flexible. It seems that I can determine who’s been dancing for quite a while and who’s just new. After they’re done dancing, they walked from the stage to the dressing room looking pissed.
It seemed that for them we weren’t a good audience. They might have been expecting some applause, but we didn’t do so. Maybe, we were just such an uncomfortable audience – every person wasn’t sure whether to watch the dancer or simply just talk to others, but we mostly talk to each other. As time passed by, we did many things just to occupy ourselves and refrain from looking at the stage. Some of us occupied ourselves with texting and others played games on their cell phone. So, I believe they really should be pissed. I also wouldn’t want people to do the same thing if I perform, though not like their dance.
When I look around, it looked like every employee and dancer was very tired and looked very ready to come home anytime. We, the students, even looked much livelier than them. I saw some dancers sleeping on couches placed at the sides. Some even had other employees to massage them. Lots of dancers were walking around half-naked with towels wrapped on their bellies and I never fail to see the serious atmosphere around them. They cannot be blamed to being serious in the bar since it’s their job, they must have been there for years and they’ve been working hard, and they can’t also be blamed for looking so tired since they even have other lives to live to. They’re not just macho dancers, they have friends, family, and other commitments to attend to. They might even have to work they whole day in their other jobs.
The club marketer were with us almost the whole time, and he didn’t fail to increase our opinion of the club as he talked about what was going on to the dancers. Amazingly, all of them are straight. There’s not even much gays in the bar as 80% of their customers are girls and 20% are gays. The dancers also earn a normal monthly income of 80,000 pesos, which is what I believe higher than the normal first salary of an Atenean which is about 40,000 pesos. What’s more is that these dancers receive high amounts of tips from patrons. The crowned Mr. Adonis, which is awarded to the best macho dancer, Vincent, even got a car from his favorite patron. Yet, although, this may seem quite a great job, it’s quite hard for them as emotional distress was more strong to them than to us viewers who are scared to get a glimpse of a live “cock”. We were told not to show violent reactions to the dancers as it would make their job more difficult and they would think we were mocking them. Though, we failed to do so as one dancer suddenly showed his genitals when we least expected it. It was really hard to control, but I failed to and I felt bad later on. Thinking of these considerations, I felt that it was be a very depressing job. Of course, if I were in his place, I wouldn’t want to go on dancing and be mocked at. Though, it was very inspiring that they didn’t want to stop doing their jobs even if they accumulated enough wealth to stop; they may really have developed a love for this profession – it just didn’t show at some of their faces. I even got to notice how proud the marketer was for them. I initially thought it was just for him to market the bar, but, then again, I realized that it was genuine.
I’m very glad I went to the gay bar. It’s not as similar to what I expected it to be but it certainly taught me more about SA. I got to realize that their job isn’t really bad as it’s supposed to be. In fact, it should considered as a great job not because of the money they earn, but from their endurance from emotional distress, disrespect, inattention and mockery. In the end, they’re just the same as us. They just eventually had different circumstances that made them get macho dancing or stripping as a job. They also need to make a living, just like everyone, and some of them became passionate about it, just like many people are with their jobs.
Miguel Alberto Uy Dagatan
SA 21 – T 101074