Thursday, July 7, 2011

Butterfly: Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

So in this scenario, on one Saturday night in a bar filled with customers except for a few empty tables, our fictional MD will do what bars call the "butterfly." It simply means a dancer or hosto hopping from one table to another, like a butterfly flying from flower to flower, until he is sent away. 

Our fictional gay customer, Lei, sees their gay manager with his chosen boy in tow. Lei smiles as the gay manager introduces John, who extends a handshake, smiles, and greets with a "nice to see you again." The waiter asks for the boy's order of drink, which he promptly replies with "lights." Lei initiates a conversation, the usual how are yous. Their conversation extends for a few minutes, until the waiter arrives with the boy's drink. The tabled dancer takes a few sips from the bottle. Lei asks if John has already performed that night, which prompted the dancer to excuse himself to take a look in the dressing room. 

Good exit, John thinks to himself. 

He goes to the dressing room, then makes his way through the crowded bar to sit again beside the middle aged woman who was chatting with her friends. She notices John beside her, then jokingly comments how a toilet break can possibly take 15 minutes long. John smiles sheepishly, gives some lame excuse of talking with another MD, then takes a few good sips from his beer. He glances at the other end of the crowded bar if his other customer can see him. No. Good. John intermittently chats up the woman customer and drinks his beer, until the bottle is 3/4 empty. He excuses himself again to go to the toilet, with an explanation of how drinking beer can make someone pee often.

So this table-hopping goes on for the next hour or so: John goes back to Lei, chats loudly with him and with his group, drinks the beer, then tells him he'll be up on stage in the few minutes, so he needs to prepare. John returns to the woman customer, saying some sweet nothings, finishes the beer, orders another one, then excuses himself to go prepare for dance. John then actually dances, glancing secretly at either customer. He returns to Lei right after, still sweaty. John drinks his beer, then to appear close, puts his arms around Lei, which prompts him to react "you're still sweaty." This gives John another excuse to go back to the dressing room. All-fresh, John sits with the woman, then apologizes for taking so long as he had to freshen up after the dance. He then gives another lame excuse about the toilet, leaves, goes to the other customer, lame excuse about a text message or being called by the supervisor, returns to the first, apologize, and so on and so forth.

Messy. Trabaho kung trabaho.

But this butterfly concept does not happen in all bars, depending on their policies. Most bars respect the first-come-first-served rule. They know that allowing this butterfly system may lead to ugly fights, not only among the customers but also among the men. Preventing table-hopping among the men opens up opportunities for the other non-sellable macho dancers to be tabled by customers. 

On the other hand, those other bars who allow this concept want to "spread the joy" among customers who go to the bar specifically for a guy. That's their press release. But in reality, it's also added income not only for the bar, but for the macho dancer who has a daily quota of drinks to achieve himself. 

For the customer's sake, to inform or not to inform them -- that's the tricky part in butterfly. The risk a dancer makes in asking permission from their first customer is being sent back to the dressing room, and possibly losing that customer forever. Unless the customer does not mind or just simply accepts the bar's policies. And that type of understanding customer, I believe, is a rare breed.

So those sly macho dancers, like John, choose to keep their butterflies secret. According to a few hostos and dancers, it takes some skill to execute a butterfly perfectly, without either customer knowing they're being two-timed by their chosen men. They ensure their customers are seated far apart, with the help of the managers or waiters. They seem extra sweet or extra chatty when seated with either customer. By walking from one end of the bar to another, they try to appear as if they're simply roaming around the bar. Our fictional macho dancer, John, actually gives the most common reasons to excuse himself to go to another customer.

Think about it, what does a scheming macho dancer really do during a so-called 20-minute toilet break? Poop? Yeah, with bull shit.

But in general, if a dancer decides to butterfly, most are respectful enough to ask first from their customers if they can do table-hopping. If the customer does not allow it, then the guy can opt to "check out" or "out" himself in that table, making himself available for the other customer. In this case, it's the guy's choice if he prefers to sit with whoever got him first or whoever he has a better relationship with or whoever would provide him with a larger tip.

What's a customer to feel when the dancer does a butterfly on him/her? Imagine being two-timed in a bar, while paying for the time with the guy. It's like spending money for a guy who can sit with you and at the same time, canoodle with some other woman or gay man just a few tables away.

So for customers who don't want to share macho dancers or hostos with others, the gay bar provides simple suggestions:
  • First, arrive early. Especially on customer-filled weekend nights. This way, the earlier customer gets the so-called "right of first refusal" to share his or her men. 
  • If not, the customer can text the gay bar managers to reserve the man in advance. This may require some advanced payment or bagsak of drinks though, depending on the bar's policies. 
  • Last, be the macho dancer's regular guest by returning again and again. These men tend to "reserve" themselves or, if seated, "out" themselves from their table, if they find out in advance that their regular guest is arriving that night.
Notice how all the above suggestions benefit the bar. Arriving earlier = More drinks spent. Advanced reservations = Sure drinks spent. Regular guest = frequent drinks spent. Customer is happy. Hunky man is happy. Bar is very happy.

Good thing that our fictional macho dancer, John, gets away with a butterfly done in secret. Middle aged woman satisfied. Gay customer satisfied. With drinks and tips from both. But little does he know that our fictional customer, Lei, has taken notice but chose to keep silent.

Or will he? On that Saturday night, in the bar filled with customers, except for a few empty tables, Lei just decides to blog about it. 

(And no, Lei is not GB Goer, nor is GB Goer this Lei guy).

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
twitter: @gbgoer

*All persons here in this specific post are purely fictional. Any resemblance to real persons or real macho dancers or real hostos, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Photo credits: Painting "Winged spirit buttoning his underpants (1966)"  by Yannis Tsarouchis at–1989/

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