It was nearing midnight when I got back to Katipunan. I climbed up the stairs to the 4th floor to my room. When I opened the door, my sister was still up typing a paper that was probably due the next day. She looked up and asked, “Dugay lagi ka karun?”
I replied, “Niadto ko atung field trip sa gay bar. Niingon biya ko nimu gahapun.”
“Oh yeah!!! Unya?”
“Um, well, it was… an experience.”
I expected “it” to happen initially, but as the night wore on, my pounding heart began to slow, until it was beating regularly. Just another night out… except I was in a gay bar. But then, “it” happened. If “it” happened earlier in the night, I might have been more prepared, but to suddenly spring “it” on me just as I was beginning to relax myself. They could not have timed a more
perfect (or imperfect) moment. I almost choked on my drink.
I took a look around. My blockmate, Brandon, was wide-eyed and he looked at me and I knew what he wanted to ask.
“Did he-? Was that-?”
I shrugged, not exactly sure if what I saw was real. I glanced at the others who came with us to the field trip. The girls who were sitting with us looked as shocked as I felt. I heard a few gasps from the other table.
I looked back at the stage. The performer was wrapping up his
member number and went down the stage, nonchalant, as if he hadn’t exposed something to the eyes of around 40 not so innocent anymore young adults. I watched the performer curiously. Why was he different from the rest? What made him show everything while the other performers wore underwear and shorts? Was he not as popular as the others that he had to show “it” to get customers? Was he just less conservative than the others? Or maybe he was just a taste of more to come, a teaser trailer?
I guess I’ll never have the answer to that last question, as Brandon and I left around two dances later, which had reverted to the regular old routine.
When I went out of the club, I breathed in the night air. Everything outside seemed so ordinary compared to the surreal world I just left behind (and if sources are to be believed, would only get more surreal as the night wore on).
I began observing the macho dancers. Usually dressed in a sando (which half of the time, disappeared partway through the routine), really short shorts or underwear, and oddly enough, cowboy boots, the dancers would usually begin just by touching themselves first. Really slowly. I’m still not sure if this enhances the sexual appeal they exude. After touching themselves for a good portion of the routine, some dancers would strip off their shirt (slowly) or just tantalize the audience with flashes of skin now and then. Then came the dance moves. And I’m not talking about breakdance moves or the dougie or whatever else is popular these days. These dance moves were extremely sexual in nature. There was the (slow) hip thrust, the standing body wave, and, in my opinion, the most impressive one, the-get-down-on-the-floor-and-hump.
A common characteristic I observed among the dancers were that they were expressionless. (They would have made excellent poker players.) Was this expressionless-ness a sign of detachment from their surroundings (i.e. they didn’t like what they were doing, therefore detaching themselves from the experience)? Or was this poker face a staple for macho dancing everywhere? Was it meant to be a sensual look? I really wouldn’t know. I don’t often get sensual looks sent my way.
When the dancers finished, they would linger on the side of the stage. I was seated on the same side, so I could observe up close. It seemed as if most of them knew each other, some smiling at each other, and clapping each other on the backs, or quietly whispering to each other. Others slept on the couches, exhausted while others cooled themselves by the air conditioner. This revealed to me a different side of the dancers. When they weren’t performing, they seemed like normal
buff and shirtless men. However, no matter what, they were always in plain sight of the audience, even after the performance.
These men were selling themselves to the audience, giving them what they wanted to see. (Judging by the silence of the other tables, this was not what my fellow field-trippers wanted to see.) In a way, it was most like a stripper bar, except the music wasn’t as loud, the people weren’t as rambunctious, and the dancers/strippers weren’t women. Which begs the question, why then are gay bars so badly reputed? Is it because gays frequent there? But there were more females than males. Was it unclean or unsafe? It looked cleaner than my bathroom. (I’m joking. My bathroom’s cleaner
sometimes.) Was it because it was too wild? At first, I thought no. It was as mild as mild can be (as far as bars go.) At least until “it” happened.
I immediately noticed something different as soon as the guy stepped into the stage. He was wearing a towel or something similar. Although it covered more skin than the skimpy clothes the other dancers wore, the towel was definitely a more erotic sight. Perhaps it was the fact that most of us don’t wear anything underneath a towel that made me think that way. Perhaps it was the way he was
humping the air moving. But I think the most prevalent reason for it was the huge obscene bulge on said towel. At first, I thought nothing of it. Surely he won’t show it. But at that moment, he dropped the towel.
There it was. In plain sight. Penis. Dick. Cock. Member. Hot dog. Call it what you will.
After waiting around for arrangements with the owner of the bar to be made, we were finally let in.
Surprisingly enough, the gay bar looked ordinary (except for the man gyrating on stage). A few tables towards the back, some comfortable couches in front of the stage, hardly any lights at all, servers milling about, and a few early customers. (The early bird catches the fat worm?) Nothing like the strobing lights and loud music I was expecting.
When I was seated, I looked at the other customers. To my surprise, it was not dominated by gays at all. In fact, the females outnumbered the males by quite a lot. I noticed two Korean women on one of the couches near the stage, alternately watching the stage, and whispering to each other. I spied a lone man on the other side of the bar, just watching intently the man bearing his goods on stage, and occasionally sipping his drink. There came later in the night a group of older women, who my blockmate, Arianne, referred to as matronas. One thing was common with them, though. They didn’t feel ashamed of being there. This was what they came here for. For them, it was an ordinary thing to do, like shopping and buying the things that caught their eye.
I couldn’t say the same for us.
“Hey, you ready?” Brandon asked me as we neared the infamous Adonis bar.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.” I was half-anxious and half-excited the whole day.
“What do you think will happen tonight?”
I shrugged. I’ve heard the stories, but I’m not sure which ones were grossly exaggerated and which were true. “Anything could happen.”
If only I’d known then.
I learned a lot from my excursion into the gay bar. But it raised more questions than it answered. Were these men forced to stripping and macho dancing just to make a living or did they enjoy what they were doing? Why do people go to gay bars? To ogle at men? To fulfill fantasies? To relieve stress? Why does the gay bar have a worse reputation? What happens after midnight? 😉 And I still don’t understand why it’s called a gay bar. 😦
Tan, Walton Royce Chiu
SA 21 – P