THE bus trip from Sta Maria town in Bulacan, a mainly agricultural province north of the Philippine’s national capital region, also called Metro Manila, to his workplace in Quezon City was long and arduous. But the happy disposition he showed from the time he arrived at the strip bar to the time he left the place seemed to belie the mixed emotions he had. All night he was all smiles, which appearance was in stark contrast to the looks of his fellow macho dancers several of whom had been frowning all the time, for obvious reasons.
He had previously made known his desire to finally call it quits, if only to seek greener pasture elsewhere. This well-thought plan to say goodbye to his nocturnal activity was prompted by the unexpected presence of a neighbor in the customer area one particular night, during which the all-too-familiar guest nearly recognized him while he performed on stage. That very moment when they caught glimpses of each other was nerve-wracking for him and must have been a “discovery” for her, his neighbor. Good thing, luck was still on his side that night. He left the bar much earlier than usual, unnoticed and unscathed, if you will.
Now, that unforgettable night had haunted him, or so he claimed, and quitting was the only answer he saw in the horizon.
From opening to around 4am, he was tabled twice, first by a female patron and then by a regular male client, who was as straight as an arrow. The latter spent time with him for at least four hours, during which they talked about career change, family and the future of his children, the impact his macho dancing job had on him, and the long trip between home and workplace.
He admitted he particularly liked his regular guest because he was different from all the other bar customers he had seen, joined at tables, and talked with. His favorite patron would not harass him and, in fact, the guest would even keep his distance. Once he decided to leave the bar, he would, no doubt, miss him dearly.
During this particular shift, he performed seven times on stage, including joining the choreographed all-cast-show twice. His solo performances were his scheduled shows, which he couldn’t and mustn’t shriek. And during his turns, he again displayed his signature dance moves, which wowed the customers, especially his regular guest who entered the bar at half past 11. To such songs as Who Am I by Casting Crowns and Like A Rose by A1, he danced, coming off as both sexy and erotic – but never offensive or lewd. He was awesome!
At one point, he excused himself and he was seen handing what appeared to be a pair of leather boots and some other dancing paraphernalia over to his supervising manager, whose apparently sad, facial reaction said it all: he was leaving.
Rejoining his guest, he quipped “laylo po muna ako”, which meant he wanted to take a break for some time. His patron got it.
“Ma-mi-miss kita (I will miss you),” the guest told him. “Ikaw din, po, ma-mi-miss kita (I will miss you, too),” the stripper said, showing his winning smile. He was grinning all night but his eyes seemed to show sadness.
Just before sunrise, the macho dancer was on the road chatting with his fave client while waiting for a ride home.