Friday, July 22, 2011

Touched: Part 1

The macho dancing gay bar of Manila has been known to be a very visual place. Patrons go there for the sights of dancing men in various states of undress. "Nude men, right before your eyes" seems to be a catch phrase for the curious wanting to enter the gay bar. Those who frequent the bar even find it as a feast for the lusty eyes.  

What I experienced last weekend in the gay bar got me into thinking though. I got the services of one of the fully dressed masseurs roaming the bar. Not the happy-ending type of massages, mind you (yeah, who would like to get it on with an er-ish oldie male masseur). For a tip of P100, these men try to give a 20-minute less-than-spa-treatment, if not painful, rub on the neck, shoulders, and back. It's a service offered to customers wanting to be relaxed, while watching the entertainment on-stage. 

The massage I got from this particular male masseur opened me up -- his warm hands stroking the grooves of my shoulder, his knuckles forcing the tight knots out of my back muscles, and his thumbs pressing deeply yet carefully into my palms. It was quietly arousing, without intending to be. And then, I thought:

Why can touch become so important in a very visual place?

How one is touched has weight in a gay bar. From the light circling of a macho dancer's fingers on the knee of a guest, to the forceful grasp of a gay customer on the rock hard cock of an all-the-way dancer, these bodily contacts create various sensations throughout the body, creating multiple meanings for both the customer and tabled macho dancer.

The early stages of getting to know a macho dancer usually starts with a simple, basic and common act of touch -- the handshake. They say handshakes make a good first impression. They say one's handshake can reveal one's personality. They also say to always do a firm one for formality.

For macho dancers, their handshake is evident perhaps of their lack of proper upbringing -- they are always soft / malamya. I can compare it to a kid grasping the hands of their grandmothers on the respectful act of mano. Is that how they see us, their customers -- grannies with deep pockets but no sex lives? Though, there are still those who approach a customer confident, and ready for whatever action or interaction that night, which the customer notices and likes at the first greeting.

After the handshake, they sit. What they do in the first hour is something that I always need to be sensitive about.

An early touch is too forward. Ten minutes into the conversation and his arms are already over my shoulders. Thirty minutes into the conversation and I find myself holding hands with a stranger. It is too close for comfort; it is something I watch out for. These dancers think it is their job to seduce their customers at the first instance. It is a sign of desperate newbie, wanting to grab this first-time customer and make him or her a lovestruck regular; in short, tinatrabaho ka lang (working on you). It may fool the naive virgin gay bar goer longing to be touched at the first instance.

I notice that the best ones do their initial touches subtly. The dancer will rest his hands, palms down, on my knee, while engaged in a lively conversation. He can even allow his bare-naked knee to brush my leg, like how beer bottles are clinked for a toast. He'll raise his arms sideways, the one closest to me, with elbows bent, then rest it on the top of the couch, while allowing his skin to come into contact with my shoulder. Sometimes, he'll stretch his arms sideways, grasping the top of the chair I am sitting on, with his arm slightly pressing against the back of my shirt.

I know that gay bars is a place where rules of personal space are voluntarily broken. Thus, an awkward macho dancer seated beside me but without any body part touching can be a sign of lack of confidence or discomfort. It takes the skill of a good and learned macho dancer to slowly break into this space, without acting too aggressive or forward like this is just some job he needs to do. Maybe it's like sex: seduce me first before stripping me bare; don't force me out of my clothes.

(to be continued...)

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

Photo credits:


  1. This is so true. I've tabled once, the boy who barely stripped. And what do you know, he's a sensible dude.

  2. @Cinderella I didnt know you've been to a gb already. Did you get the guy's number? okay ba? Pa-reto naman. hehe, kidding.

  3. Been to the defunct Gigolo, the razed-to-the-ground Chicos, Adonis and recently to Maginoo. Hihi.

  4. Cinderalla, kudos to you for starting early! hehe

  5. I am from los angeles. I have been home a few times but never got the chance to have some fun at the gay bars as I am always with friends and they are all straight! My questions is: where do the sex part come in? If it's only companionship, what's fun about it? I have friends to hang out with. If I am going to spend so much money on drinks, wouldn't it be better to just pay them for sex? And how is it having sex with hostos? Any input would be appreciated.


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