Tipping Norms In Macho Dancer Bars

YOU walk into a macho dancer bar, sit at a table selected through the suggestion and assistance of a person who confidently claims to be a floor manager, you get answers to some queries you pose about the bar’s operations, beverage prices, and the dancers or models, and you table a dancer you fancy, again with some help from the same floor manager.  The waiter brings you and your dancer-tablemate some drinks every twenty to thirty minutes.  You think of getting some appetizers or something to go with your drinks and you ask the waiter to help you choose an item or two on the menu.  He obliges, offering some popular fares, and after a few minutes going over the items and after consulting your tablemate, you place an order for chicken wings.  In about thirty minutes you can have the chicken wings, so says the smiling waiter.  You and the dancer strike up a chat, trying to know each other’s name and some personal details which form part of the typical questions macho dancers ask of a customer.  After about thirty minutes or so, the grinning waiter comes back with your order.  You guys begin digging into it.  You two continue the talk, you drink, you eat, you laugh, watch the dance shows, you comment on the behavior of other customers in the place.  Every now and then, the same manager passes by to check on you and your drinks and ice supply to see if they need to be replenished, or joins you at your table heaping some praises on your dancer-tablemate for his good looks or stunning dance performance.  You prod him to help himself to some wings although you know he is going to decline.

After awhile, you check the time on your mobile phone: it is around 1am.  After what seems to be two hours of stay, you feel boredom has set in and you decide it is time to split up.  You ask for the check, foot the bill, you get up and leave, but not before hearing your tablemate offering to walk you to the door.  The manager and the waiter are also there in your area ready to escort you out of the bar.

You notice that the manager is half-smiling and looking you in the eye.  His look is telling you a different thing and you know what it is.

Now, the big question is “Should you tip the manager and the waiter?

You may tip the latter.   You may tip him, that is, if you want to, despite the 8% to 10% service charge automatically added to your bill.  Many macho dancer bars collect a service fee usually pegged at 10%, with the service charge both puzzling and intriguing the customer.  A service charge is a forced tip money that many bars collect from customers and is understood to be set aside for the waiter who waits on your table.  But you all know it only goes to the bar’s coffers, instead of to the waiter.  By paying a service charge, the customer, in effect, is giving a tip money to the waiter and there is no more need to leave some cash on the table.  If you refuse to tip the waiter and manager, you are, in effect, breaking the norms in so far as bar staff members are concerned.  These folks’ minds seem to have been programmed as to collect tips from every departing customer, forgetting what the term “tip” really implies in the first place.

Tipping both the waiter and manager is the norm in the Philippine’s macho dancer bars.  You break the norm and the service staff and the managers are quick to condemn you, calling you names.

The macho dancing bar norms seem to reject the idea of making a sloppy service a major consideration in the granting of a gratuity to a waiter.  Even if his service is inefficient, he is inattentive, he is not wearing a smile, the customer is kind of obligated to tip him out of compassion for him because he has no fixed salary and works only on a commission basis.

TIP means to To Improve service.  By leaving the waiter an extra amount of dough, you are encouraging him to improve his service on your next visit.  A  gratuity is a motivating factor for him to improve his service as a waiter and by constantly delivering excellent customer service he can earn a lot in tips.

Should you tip the waiter?  If he deserves it, then by all means leave something with him.  You may give 50 pesos to 100 pesos which may suffice.  Or, you may give a bigger amount of money if you are generous, which is the same thing you may do to your dancer-tablemate.  You just hope that on your next visit, the same waiter gets to wait on your table and offers a much better service.

In some macho dancing bars, waiters get commissions for up-selling food items, such as crispy pata (crispy fried pork leg), lechon kawali (pan-roasted pork belly), and fried chicken, in addition to cuts on the macho dancer’s drinks.  Because he services you and the tabled dancer, the dancer later gives him a small amount of dough.  Your own cash reward and the tabled dancer’s gratuity to him allow the waiter to earn a considerable amount of tip money.

What about the floor manager?  Should you tip him?

That really depends on his efficiency, helpfulness, and professionalism.  It does not make sense giving a tip money to a bar executive who does not know anything about customer service, who is undeniably pushy, who grabs food from a customer’s table without permission or being invited, who flatters a guest, and who does give a customer a chance to be alone and enjoy his visit without a manager’s unexpected presence at his table.  There are lone customers who simply want to be alone not because they are saddled with sadness or loneliness or problems, but because they want to think or observe the place, the people, the shows.  They may be waiting for a friend to arrive so he can join him.  There are indeed customers who visit macho dancing bars simply to pass time while downing a bottle of beer or two and they still are enjoying their stay, however brief it may be.

The floor manager does expect the customers to give him tip money because he thinks the customer owes him something, that is, for helping him choose and table a model.  His mentality seems to be different – a result of inability to understand the real purpose of giving a tip to someone who offers a highly commendable and unforgettable service to a customer who expects the recipient of his cash reward to further improve his service so the customer will return to do business with his company again.

If a floor manager wipes the table dry, replenishes the ice bucket, checks on a pending food order, he deserves a cash reward.

You must remember that as a customer, you decide whether to leave a tip money with him and are in no way obligated to give a cash reward to a floor manager.

Floor managers do earn drink commissions just like the macho dancers and they receive cash donations from the dancers who are tabled through their efforts.

If you tip the floor manager and your dancer-tablemate gives him some cash later, the manager receives “double cash reward”.

If you do not wish to tip, then do not leave anything with the manager.  You must always remember that giving a tip money is your discretion and is not mandatory, and a gratuity is granted for a good service performed for a customer and motivates a person (the waiter or any service staff member) to further improve his service.

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