HE was just starting on stage, dancing to the beat of a popular love song when a casually-dressed woman came in. He did not notice her presence; at least for now. She did not seem to mind the performer who was gyrating comfortably in his sexy denim shorts. He seemed focused on his performance tonight, a Friday, which was the night before the big night. It’s half past ten and the bar was well-nigh filled to capacity.
While some Filipino male strippers would not care to check on the people in the audience, this macho dancer-father of two had made it a point to review the faces of the folks watching him on stage. He had every reason to do so: except his wife, no one else knew of his “actual” night job. His children, all boys and under four, were too young to understand his nocturnal activities. Now, he sensed he saw someone familiar in the crowd. He thought she recognized him, too, or he could be mistaken. He had to be sure.
He executed moves that made many gay customers applaud him, which deafening applause he reciprocated with a wide smile. Moving towards one side of the platform, he thought he caught sight of one of his female neighbors in his village in Makati. He tried to turn away but the urge to double check on her face made him move closer to the side to which the familiar face was spotted sitting close. Positive. It’s her! For seconds, nervousness overwhelmed him. Worry was now written all over his face, which, minutes earlier, was showing a huge grin. But then he had to do something or, else, be recognized by his neighbor, who he now thought might photograph him with a camera phone. But he could not allow this to happen. What if she stood up, came up to him, and asked “Is that you, Rodel?” He needed to do something. He quickly regained his composure. He looked up at the in-house disk jockey, who was monitoring his activity, and with a gesture only they knew, he hurriedly left the stage. And he was not even half-way through his performance.
“Ladies and gentlemen”, the DJ interrupted, “a warm of applause, please, for Aljon (the stripper’s bar name).” The customers obliged, though a bit surprised by the rather unusually short dance show.
The macho dancer, who kind of bore a keen resemblance to local actor Wendell Ramos, conferred with the disk jockey on the second floor and later with the owner about his aborted show. The owner understood.
As the disk jockey dimmed the lights for another stripper to mount his own show, our worried macho dancer slipped out of the bar unnoticed by the crowd. He was heading home.
His early departure resulted in the forfeiture of tonight’s allowance. He also gave up the possibility of making big money tonight. But forget about all these things. He knew the repercussions of what his neighbor might have done had she recognized him.