I have never been inside a bar before, and my mental image of a bar is the pub in How I Met Your Mother. That being the case, I have wondered what being in a bar would be like. What I experienced that night was nothing like I expected.
The outside is huge and orange. There is a large sign with bright bulbs around it that says “Laffline.” Under it was the names of the hosts for that night. No doubt this bright and eye-catching façade is to attract customers, and to give potential customers an easier time looking for it.
Inside, it was dark. There were at least three rooms: the main room, where the customers stay for the duration of their visit, the restroom, and the kitchen. The only bright light in the main room came from the stage. The audience sat on the chairs arranged in front of the stage. For the most part, every two chairs had a small round table. About five speakers surround the set-up, which was designed to keep the audience’s attention on the stage and on the hosts. The light attracts the audience’s attention, while the speakers ensure that the people in the audience are bombarded by the music and the speech of the hosts. The dim light everywhere else kept the people in the audience from looking around too much. The speakers with the needlessly loud volume droned out the sound from the audience that could distract the show. Doubtless, there are bright lights in the restroom and in the kitchen. Otherwise, the people who need the comfort of restrooms won’t be able to go about their bodily business there, and the chefs and waiters in the kitchen won’t be able to prepare the food properly.
Anyone seeking to enter the place would have to get past the four security guards guarding the entrance. These guards imply that there is something of value inside the edifice. No doubt, this place earns a lot of dough. True enough, one would have to pay an entrance fee of ₱300 soon after getting in, and that fee does not include food and drinks. It is merely an entrance fee. The owner of the lot must trust his employees a lot. The ‘cashier’ lady at the front desk does not put the money in a cash register, because there is none. She just holds the money given to her.
There were a total of nine hosts that night. The majority of them are homosexuals who have feminine bodies. While warming up the audience, the hosts constantly remind the audience to buy refreshments from the bar. This is a form of advertisement on their part, and they threatened to make fun of anyone who didn’t buy food. However, one look at the menu would immediately discourage one from buying, especially one on a tight budget. Peanuts alone cost over a hundred! No wonder the bar makes a lot of money.
Laffline, as the name implies, is a comedy bar. Naturally, the hosts would crack jokes to pass the time, and to encourage the customers to stay and buy more food. Although branding all homosexuals as outgoing, funny, and uninhibited is stereotyping, the homosexual hosts are probably hired in part because of this. The homosexual hosts of that bar fit this description. Because it is a comedy bar, jokes abound, and because it is a bar, adult jokes are the most common type of jokes. References to sexuality, genitalia, and sex are rampant. The homosexuals are the ones who crack these sorts of jokes.
The other type of jokes is insults. These can be considered jokes, because the audience bursts out laughing at these, and they served their purpose – to entertain the audience, no matter how sadistic they are. For the duration of the opening act, insults were heaped upon a senior citizen sitting at the front. When he was spotted, questions such as “Naririnig mo pa ba ako?” and “Nakikita mo pa ba ako?” came out of the hosts’ mouths. From time to time, the hosts would say, “Joke lang, ah” and “Wag ka mapikon.” This denotes that some people who visit the bar get infuriated by such things.
The waiters act as the secondary security of the bar. Aside from taking orders, serving, and collecting song requests, they roam around seating people, and moving people. They seat people at the most appropriate seats that will maximize the space, and lessen unnecessary activity.
The audience was mostly composed of people with money to burn. Several balikbayans could be identified in the audience. There was also a great deal of families in the audience, and at least three generations of the families was usually present. Several senior citizens and a five-year-old were spotted in the vicinity at a time when they would typically be sleeping. Apparently, the bar did not impose any age limits as to who may or may not enter. However, Laffline, like everywhere else in the country, has a rule prohibiting the sale of alcoholic drinks to minors.
Smoking is allowed in the bar. This caused discomfort for those sitting behind the smoker. The non-smoking tables are located at the front, which makes sense considering the cigarette smoke travels to the back, not the front. Sitting at the front is not without a price. The front seats expose one to the hosts, whose insults tend to be directed to those at the front. Consider the senior citizen who sat directly in front of the center stage. He was the center of ridicule for a considerable amount of time.
All in all, the experience was nothing like I expected. It was rather fun, although also rather damaging. The person directly in front of me smoked, and I was not particularly fond of some of the jokes the hosts said that night. However, if asked, I would choose not to go back. The loud noise, the smoke, and the rather crude humor, is not my taste.
TAN, Athena Caryl L.
SA 21 I