What an experience, huh? For our SA outing, our class decided to go to a gay bar, instead of the other choices, which were the much more tame comedy bar, the ever-popular Enchanted Kingdom, and the more male-appealing girlie bar. Everyone had perceptions of what I would be like inside Adonis, the name of the bar hat we went to, before going this experience, and most, if not everyone, were wrong. Of course, I’m sure none of us had ever been to a gay bar, so that’s to be expected. What were interesting, though, weren’t the things we were expecting, but the things that we didn’t expect. There are many ideas that would come into your head when you hear about a gay bar. You think of all the stereotypes associated with gays, especially here in the Philippines.
Gay people are often associated with flamboyance, campiness, flirtatiousness, and other fanciful characteristics. However, Adonis was not at all like that. Firstly, it was a pretty dark and dreary place. The other people who were there to watch the show weren’t even very enthusiastic. Most would sit back with straight expressions on their faces. There were couches near the front, but few chose to go there. However, considering that the time we were there was early (we were told things started to pick up past midnight), it is possible that the “festivities” just hadn’t started yet. Also, just as I left, some older women who looked like regulars had arrived and immediately moved to the front. I had expected that some of the more typical guests would be arriving soon after. For the time that we were there, though, despite the party music and the laser lights playing around, the overall mood of the place was quite somber.
What was most striking about the place, however, were the dancers themselves. There were about half a dozen shows while we were there, and most of the time the dancers came out in pairs. They would go on stage in their short shorts and their cowboy boots and their plain colored t-shirts and they would dance on stage for our entertainment. However, their expressions were even more dismal than those of the people watching them. Not a single one of all the dancers ever smiled during their performance. I’m not sure if that’s how it was supposed to be done, or if it’s supposed to be part of the “allure,” or if that was really their mood at the time. Whichever the case was, it was very much noticeable. In addition to this, the dances they performed were a little more than choreographed. In fact, there was one dancer, whose name was Vincent and was a former “Mr. Adonis,” had a very professional looking routine, and didn’t even need to take of a single piece of clothing. It was these things that got me to thinking more about the composition of the dancers, that made me ask myself “exactly how many of these men are actually straight?”
Anyone could’ve guessed beforehand that there were some dancers who would genuinely not enjoy their work. It was degrading and embarrassing, and it was the sort of work that you would do either if you enjoyed it or were desperate. However, I never would have guessed how high the percentage of the dancers who were there for the latter reason. I could very easily picture a man who aspires to be a professional dancer. Maybe he lives in the metro, or maybe he came from the province. Either way, he would likely be pressed for money, and would need to find some way to sustain himself while trying to achieve his dream. Now, there are many job choices for a man in his 20’s, but few are very high-paying. However, this job is very high paying, easily raking in tens of thousands of pesos a night for each dancer, and even more for the very popular ones. Not only that, but also it requires a skill that person himself has and is hoping to utilize in the future anyway. All that is required of them is to perform a few dances each night, and, in some of these dances, to remove items of clothing, possibly going all the way up to nudity. The cash in take is very tempting, although the idea of baring yourself for people to pay and watch would definitely deter most. It’s a very interesting concept, being paid so much to get naked. It’s almost as if they put a price on their own dignity, and sold it to the highest bidder. Maybe that’s exactly what they did. Maybe that’s why, despite being paid so much, their faces display their soulless expression, hoping to one day pay of this spiritual loan and become free from this horrible situation.
I guess that’s just how life is. Some are gifted, and some aren’t; if you’re not, then you have to make do with whatever you can. I respect these men, no matter what reason for going into this line of work is. They’re going through difficult times, especially with the Philippines as it is right now. Although I would certainly never go to one of these places again, I hope that the people who work there can find a way to escape from this world and achieve something that they personally dream for in life.
Mikhail Louis Y. Martelino