I FOUND myself standing in a corner inside a train coach two days ago. A tall university student (I saw his photo ID) stood on my left, blocking my view of the outside through the glass door, while two women stood in front of me, their backs pressed against my body. We were packed like sardines. From the opposite corner across the aisle, I heard a female voice ask “Is it a gay bar or a macho bar?” She said “macho bar” by which she meant a “macho dancer bar.” It was a good thing she asked that intriguing question. Her female companion’s “I don’t know” and “they are the same” replies did little to help clear the gray cloud hanging over her head that day.
I felt obligated to answer her question and I hope that one of these days she gets to discover this blog.
A macho dancer bar is a strip bar. It is a Philippine creation, which is unique in its own right and way too different from the mainstream strip bars in the West (this includes cosmopolitan city-state Singapore) in that it features straight dancers and strippers who are and should be macho enough, if only to give justice to the establishment’s name. Its Western counterparts feature homosexual or bisexual entertainers. A macho dancer establishment is not a gay bar.
Though it’s called a macho dancer bar, one is surprised to discover non-macho men amidst genuine macho men. Why and how did this happen? Bar managers take in who they deem look pleasant even if they are without gym-sculpted bodies to speak of in the first place. That problem can be fixed along the way because the new dancer can later work out in the gym. Similarly, macho men who are not even eye-candies are taken in too. But what is even more surprising, and disappointing if you will, is management hires chubby guys as well. You may think this is an injustice but this is the industry practice.
The gay bars scattered through the Philippine’s metropolitan capital territory, which comprises the capital Manila and fifteen other cities and one town, are not the same gay bars that are found in the West. The local gay bars are, of course, frequented by gays, transvestites, and bisexual men and do not feature strippers unlike their Western counterparts. While one occasionally sees strippers, which happens when there are important events being organized, the gay bars remain plain gay bars. Brave members of the pink community visit such places to unwind, to meet people and find new friends, and cruise. Yes, cruise. Which is pretty normal, of course. One does not go to a gay bar to watch macho dancers. You go to a macho dancer bar, instead.
In the West, gay bars feature gay and even bisexual strippers. In fact, these entertainers are much sexier, more gorgeous, more handsome, and cuter than the local straight strippers.
Just this morning a friend of mine asked whether one of these macho dancers is actually a closeted homosexual or bisexual man. Good question. It is possible that there are gays amongst them but tough to tell which ones are. And customers do not walk into a strip bar, sit at a table close to the stage and start pinpointing which one is gay.
Now to that lady who asked the question, I hope I have satisfied your curiosity.