This past Saturday night, inside 19 East Bar along South Super Highway, I asked “Stewart” who was drinking beer beside me, where he usually went for gimmicks with friends.
This was the first time the both of us went out, outside the confines of the gay bar he’s working in. After months of unanswered text messages and mismatching schedules, I finally got to go out and hang out with him. Ironically, it was in another bar – we ordered the same light beer we’d usually get in his bar, but this time without half-naked men dancing onstage. At least, we were not in another macho dancer bar.
“Nasa bahay lang ako madalas. Nakakatamad kasi umalis pag walang pasok, (I’m usually at home. I get too lazy to go out of there’s no work)” he replied.
“Pero kung hindi sa bahay, saan kayo pumupunta ng mga kaibigan mo? (But if you don’t stay at home, where do you go with your buddies?)” I probed.
“Basketball minsan. O sa mall. Minsan naman, pagkatapos ng pasok, pumupunta kami ng mga ka-work ko sa Dematisse. (Sometimes, play basketball. Or go to the mall. Sometimes, after work, my co-workers and I go to Dematisse).”
Dematisse. That bar.
Yes, I’ve heard of that bar before. The wonderful world of Dematisse.
What happens in Dematisse, after the jump:
I’ve heard of that bar’s name time and again from various macho dancers and hostos, working in the Pasay-Manila-Paranaque areas. It seemed like THE place-to-be, such that whichever bar I went, that was the oft-mentioned bar MDs and Hs hang out during their non-work hours. It was the common answer when asked why they still weren’t home at 9 AM, or where they celebrated the birthday of their co-worker, or why they woke up at 6 PM with a hang-over after a drinking spree with the boys and too late for your supposed meet-up that afternoon.
When I first heard of the name from a hosto, I thought I was the only one who didn’t know of this supposedly “famous” landmark in the
Manila area. But Dematisse is actually a small café-bar along Remedios Street in the heart of Malate, Manila. It’s surrounded by other bars of similar nature – with typical bar tables and chairs, ground floor with an open-air area for smoking, has no entrance fee, and sells cheap local beer. When I was once passing by in the area, the bar seemed non-descript to me – if I wasn't looking for it, I actually wouldn’t see it.
I told Stewart I’ve heard of that Malate bar before from other macho dancers. He sort of confirmed that the bar was the hang-out for boys “na pareho sa trabaho namin (in the same field / with same kind of job).”
If “gay bars” are bars that cater to gays, then Dematisse can be just like a true “macho dancer bar.”
According to Stewart, MDs and hostos go there because of the cheap beer. But if cheap beer is available in other bars, why specifically go all the way to that Malate bar?
“Doon din kasi puntahan ng mga babae na pareho sa trabaho namin. (That’s where the girls with the same kind of job as us go to).”
Hostesses. GRO’s. Girl strippers. The female version of the macho dancer. In truth, there are lots of these girlie bars and KTV joints in Malate, a few blocks away from Dematisse.
Stewart further elaborated, “
Doon kasi, kapag uwian na, mga 5-6 AM, grupo-grupo nagpupunta. Mga iba-ibang tropa na galing sa mga gay bar. Tapos nandoon din mga grupo-grupo ng mga hostess. Relax lang sila, inom-inom. Tapos merong lalapit na, magpapakilala. Ayan, booking na pagkatapos. Kaya yung iba doon pumupunta para mag pick up.”
(Various groups from gay bars go there, after work at 5-6 AM. There’ll also be groups of hostesses. They just relax, drink. Then, some approach the other groups, get to know them. Hook ups happen, and some even go there to pick-up or get picked-up).
Just like in a normal club, straight or otherwise, in Malate or
or Fort. But this was among boys and girls in their industry. Makati
As a boy-crazy admirer of macho dancers, I told Stewart I was curious to go to that bar in Malate at least once and see other prospective MDs.
“Maghahanap ka lang siguro ng booking no? (You’ll just look for someone to hook-up with, right?)” he joked.
“No! Of course not,” was my instant reply, even though that that was my real intention. I thought of that before -- Why not meet up with macho dancers in their favorite bar that’s outside the confines of their expensive gay bars? Seems logical. Drinking with them will surely be cheaper. Plus, I get to know them outside of their costumed-selves, outside the pretense of the customer-entertainer relationship.
When I mentioned this idea of going to Dematisse to Mary way back, she just gave me a raised eyebrow and a slightly shocked look. “Mag-isa ka! (Go alone)” was her reply. Did the idea of possibly seeing a room filled with macho dancers or hostos who might know her turn her off? Or maybe the cheap-ness of it all – from the bar's street-side location to the overflowing cheap beer, from the other girls going there and to the skankiness I was planning to do.
Even with the controversial information he gave me, Stewart swore that he’s been there only three times, and hung out mostly with his co-workers. He never hooked up with a girl there before. No girl has ever approached him, and he was too shy to introduce himself to anyone. He might be telling the truth; he was on his fourth beer already.
I didn’t know why he was trying to reassure me that he only went there for “wholesome” reasons. At that time, I didn’t care if he did whatever he did, wherever he did during his free time with friends or co-workers.
At least, he was spending time with me finally – may not be as I imagined, like in the mall, in the cinema, or in Dematisse with his friends – but in that "straight" music bar along South Super Highway. Three hours, two bands, and seven beers between us. At a fraction of the cost spent in the macho dancing bar. On a Saturday night, when he is supposed to be at work and I am usually in a gay bar.
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila