“I don’t know how to feel about my SA “field trip” to a gay bar tonight….. HAHAHA”
Those were the exact words I tweeted at 7:20 PM last March 3, while I was in the car on my way to dinner at Tomas Morato – and with good reason. After dinner with my blockmates, we were going to go Adonis, a gay bar along Timog. I really did have no idea what to expect, especially because I’ve been stuck in my own little bubble for so long. I knew of comedy bars, girly bars, and gay bars in areas like Tomas Morato, Timog, etc., but I never actually thought I’d find myself right smack in the middle of the action, and on a Saturday night. I mean, my nights out aren’t exactly spent in the north, much less in that area. Most of the time I’m somewhere in Makati, having dinner with my family or drinks with my cousins and friends. This Saturday night, however, was a different story.
We arrived at around 9:00 PM, and walked over to Sir Skilty and other people from other SA21 sections. With us was an employee of Adonis – a promoter or manager, maybe? – who gave us a few tips at first. Number one rule: don’t start shouting like first-timers. Aside from us, every person in the audience has already been there, thus all these are just normal to them. Squealing like immature teens would certainly just make the atmosphere awkward. Another important rule was to just enjoy. He was aware that most of us – if not all – were first-timers and because of that, we had to be reminded that this was a reality, and nothing we should be so shocked about.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be the hardest rule to follow when the night’s events slowly escalated. It was easy at first, of course. Men macho dancing in tight white sandos and short, tight-fit denim shorts may have been funny to watch at first, but it eventually got easier. However, just as we were warming up, a big shock came to us all. One man came out with a sarong wrapped around his waist area, and slowly played with it and teased the audience. I honestly didn’t think he’d take it all off and show what was underneath, but who was I kidding? We were in a gay bar, and we were, after all, warned beforehand. Thus, lo and behold, after a few minutes into slow dancing, the angry bird (as we eventually called it) was staring right at us, prompting most of us to look another direction. It was at this point that following the “just enjoy” and “no squealing” rules just got more difficult.
Aside from tips, though, the employee gave us some insider information – a glimpse of the life in a gay bar. He told us that a number of the dancers were actually well-off from their own businesses, and were not working in a gay bar to make a living. When these dancers are asked why they do it, they just say they like it – nothing more, nothing less. It was a personal choice, not fueled by some form of economic need. This, for me, was the biggest surprise of all. My inner judgmental self always believed that people who worked these late-night occupations found themselves in that kind of working environment because they had no choice, because they were desperate. These stories, however, proved me wrong and shattered all those wrong ideas about these people.
I’ve always believed that people in these areas and occupations were living the hard life, having to use their bodies to make money and that sort. But, with the stories of the promoter-slash-manager (?), I realized that some of them actually did this for fun, out of their own will. They weren’t desperate for money – they were already making enough even without the gay bar income. They wanted to be there, to work those nights, and to perform for the ladies and gay men.
I guess I’ll never really understand (let alone find out) what makes these men want to work in that kind of environment. Of course I find it strange, but to each his own, right? I’m pretty sure they have their reasons, and very valid ones at that, but I don’t have to know. It’s a personal choice, and we should leave it at that. What I can draw from this, though, is to avoid being so judgmental towards others. The little we know about another person is always just the tip of the iceberg – whether it’s his or her occupation, sexual preference, race, religion, etc. – and more often than not, we wouldn’t even really know anyone completely even after months or years spent with that person. Heck, you don’t even know yourself completely despite being with yourself 24/7 for an entire lifetime.
Carissa Limjap Reformado