The first time I was told about the list of possible field trip destinations for the class, I was shocked, to say the least, that ‘gay bar’ and ‘girlie bar’ were among the choices.
I immediately chose comedy bar in my mind.
That wasn’t the case for most of my block mates though. I was intrigued as to why most of them chose gay bar, so I asked some of them their reasons for their choice. Most said that it’s a once in a lifetime experience, and since we’re going as a big group, it would somehow feel safer. I realized that it made sense, because I already had gone to comedy bars for so many times. And I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to try something new, so in the end, we all chose to go for the gay bar.
On the day that we were going to a gay bar, I surprised myself because I was really actually looking forward to going. I was curious if what the ‘typical gay bar’ that I had watched in movies would come to form in our field trip. By typical I mean the bow tie-wearing, shirtless, macho man dancing, with the “I’m too sexy for my shirt” song. But then again, I don’t really know what experience to expect. All I know was that I had been anxious and excited at the same time.
Before going to the gay bar, we had dinner in a nearby restaurant. While eating, we sort of calmed our nerves and prepared for the worst – totally naked men dancing around on the stage. We shared what our expectations would be, basing things on the various movies we’ve each watched.
Before going, I didn’t really know if I hoped for a lot of different ‘guests’ or not. If there would be a lot of different guests besides our group, it would feel less uncomfortable because then the attention of the dancers wouldn’t be towards us. Also, it would be much more interesting to observe if there would be many, different people there.
But if there were fewer guests or even if it were just us, it would also feel less uncomfortable, too, because we’d be comfortable knowing that we were the only ones there while experiencing something weird for us for the first time. Other people, who I guess was frequently going there, wouldn’t be gawking at us wondering what a big group was doing there, seemingly new and innocent.
When we got to the entrance of the gay bar, it’s yet another bittersweet experience, because I felt excited that I got to experience something so once-in-a-lifetime with my friends, but at the same time, I felt weird because there come moments that I don’t know what I had been doing at the entrance of a gay bar.
And then at last, we were entering the gay bar. I thought that the entrance fee was reasonably priced, but the additional fee for the drinks was a bit too pricey (I also noticed later that the prices for the drinks for women was a lot more expensive than for the men). Anyway, when we got into the bar itself, it was not what I expected, because it looked like a comedy bar, only smaller. With some couches in the front as the exception, it also had a stage, then tables with chairs almost all over the place. Unlike what I’ve seen in the movies, there was no open bar and no ‘dance floor’ for the guests.
But what deviated from my expectation the most were the dancers themselves. Their physical appearance was typical, I think, for a macho dancer – muscular, tall, and not so hard on the eyes, but their dance moves, the songs they were dancing to, and their routine was weird. I found it unusual that they were dancing to slow songs that were mellow, and their choreography was very slow, too. I actually found it funny at first.
I realized as we stayed there that most of them really had the same dance routines. And I also realized that they had similar costumes – very fit white tank tops, very short denim shorts, and cowboy boots. I really found it unusual, because as I said a while ago, I thought they would were something like a bow tie. I also thought that they were going to dance to songs like “Ice, Ice, Baby” and not to songs you’d expect to hear in a romantic movie.
I think our group was the only ones there. Except for a couple of old ladies sitting on one of the couches in front of us, we practically occupied all of the big tables they had there. While observing the performance on stage, I noticed that there were a lot of dancers. A couple of dancers would go out each time for maybe about 3-4 minutes, dancing to a slow song, maybe at times using the two poles in front of them, then they would just abruptly stop and leave the stage. The stage would be empty for five minutes or so, and then someone would speak over the microphone announcing something that I barely understood, but I heard enough to understand that there was going to be another couple of guys/gays who would dance on stage.
I was surprised that the gay bar had a lot of dancers. I could deduce from this that it may be a lucrative job, especially those who are desperate for money, or for those who simply want to kill some time and gain some fast cash.
I heard that the dancers/entertainers there got things as extremely luxurious as condos and cars. Some don’t even need that particular jobs; they just want to have fun and a second life perhaps. I even heard that these dancers/entertainers got it easy because they could easily charm their way into convincing their patrons into getting what they want.
Because we stayed no later than midnight, we didn’t really get to see the “extreme part” of the show (I’m not complaining though). Except for one dancer who bared his private part, all I saw was half naked guys/gays dancing on the stage, with an occasional dancer coming down and approaching a patron on the sofa. While exiting though, I noticed that more people, mostly older men (I guess between the ages of late 30s to 50s) were just coming in. I can only guess that they wanted to come only when the “real show” starts.
Overall, I know that that night was a night that I would never ever forget in my life. It was really weird for just sit there and observe anything that I can. Honestly, before coming to the gay bar, and even before having this ‘opportunity’ to go to one, I viewed these dancers’ jobs as a mistake, as something that I never understood the reason for people taking as an occupation. I honestly thought that it was not honorable, and the whole business of having a patron as your supplier of needs is just plain wrong.
But then again, who am I to judge? I have no idea where these people are coming from -both the dancers and the guests/patrons. Who am I to say that what they are doing is wrong, when I don’t even know to begin to understand their reasons for doing what they are doing? It’s just a matter of perspective, I think. And before I can really delve into their lives, I can’t really give them a fair judgment. I’ll have to give them the benefit of the doubt and try to accept and respect that it’s their jobs, and the patrons are just doing what they like.
Aimee Charmaine G. Lam
SA 21 – T