Tuesday, January 15, 2013

All About "Sabit"

You've seen that action done in countless movies and shows. It is the quintessential image of the stripper, male or female. "Magic Mike" made you curious to experience the same thing in Manila. You've wanted to do it. But then, you're just too afraid or too shy or too cash-strapped to even try. What's that action called in the local scene?
Those lucky dollar bills

But, wait. Doesn't the word "sabit" mean the following? 
Sabit 1: Hang clothes to dry
Sabit 2: Hang on to railings of jeepney's rear
Sabit 3 (or Sandara's "Walang Sabit"): Tangle-free hair

In the gay bar industry though, "sabit" gets a whole new meaning. There are no clothes (literally), no jeepneys, and no Sandaras (Koreans abound though). Magsabit ng pera involves tucking cash into the waistband of the macho dancer's bikini/underwear/cycling shorts as he is dancing on-stage or once a dancer approaches you. 

Click below to view full picture above and read more about "sabit":

My first ever sabit experience was not in Manila though, but in a gay strip bar in New York years ago. The male stripper was dancing on top of the bar ledge. I was near the bar, so I looked up to see the dark-skinned buff dancer with only a yellow towel tied around his waist. I saw the other patrons beside me also enjoying the sight and sneaking their hands inside the dancer's towel. So I tried it too. I took out a dollar bill, folded it lengthwise, and slid my hand underneath the towel. I felt the underwear strap and inserted my dollar bill. He smiled at me in thanks. I guess that allowed more access for my frisky fingers (I won't explain further what happened next, which I think he seemed to enjoy, even momentarily).  

So what you see in the movie "Magic Mike" really does happen. Customers throw their dollar bills on stage or tuck those inside the dancer's underwear. Hollywood can make something look so fun... and so cheap!

But not in Manila. 

Because sabit is not usually done, for countless reasons. Tipid for one. Hiya. Conservative kuno. Hindi alam kung paano. Even the set-up of Manila's gay bars doesn't help. Customers are made to sit on couches and chairs far from the stage, so walking up towards the well-lit stage in full view of other customers to insert a couple of bills takes a lot of guts. 

Unless you're a matrona, rich gay guy, or a foreigner, particularly Koreans. When their chosen macho dancer comes up on stage to dance, they whip out P5,000 or P20,000 or P50,000 worth of 500 or 1000 bills. They hand the money to their floor manager, and the manager approaches the stage to insert the bills, usually fanned out, into the dancer's waistband. Of course, the floor managers make a big brouhaha out of the act. Maybe to inspire other customers to do the same. But, to the contrary, that can intimidate the other customers who would only prefer to give only P50 or P100 or max P500.

For those customers giving huge amounts, sabit is all for show. The entire P20,000 or P50,000 doesn't go to the macho dancer. "Binabalik namin yun," according to a lot of MDs. Apparently, those customers ask their dancer to return 75%-90% of the amount. That means the MD only pockets around P5,000, or maybe even less.

"Syempre pag nakita ng bar na may nagsabit na customer sayo, alam nilang may kikitain ka," tells one MD. "Bago magsiuwian, lalapit na sa iyo ang floor manager. Hihingi. Pati DJ. Mga waiter, wardrobe, mabait na rin sa iyo."

If sabit is all for show to the richie customers, then for regular gay bar goers, sabit is all about chance-ing/tsansing. Aminin!

Thus, here are a few tips if you want to have your own "sabit" experience:

  • Customers can either approach the stage or wait for the dancer after his routine to approach you (referred to as "area": Read more) and tuck the bill discreetly at the bikini/brief strap once the dancer is in front of you. What you do after is at your own discretion.
  • In most gay bars though, "area" is seldom done. In these bars, you need to walk up towards the MD while he is performing. That will take a lot of guts. So better yet, while your preferred MD is dancing on stage, call your floor manager quickly and tell him/her to motion to the MD to approach you ("Palapitin mo si Joemar, may isasabit ako"). The dancer usually obliges.
  • The cheapest bar to do it is the one along Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City. They accept any bill, though the average is a P100 bill (lowest is P20, but be warned to be thought of as buraot). 
  • Be prepared with your bills beforehand. What I do: I buy a pack of cigarettes or candy with a P1000 bill, so the change I receive is composed of 20s, 50s, and 100s. 
  • Be warned: Give one, give to all, especially in those bars that allow "area." The rest of the MDs will find out if you've given money to one dancer. They're like predators: succeeding dancers  would keep on approaching you after your first "sabit." Again, as the customer, you have the power to say "No.
Finally, as promised.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
email: char.affairs@gmail.com
twitter: @gbgoer

Photo credits: http://malestripperlover.tumblr.com/image/27652954429http://www.almanac.com/content/how-choose-clothesline,


  1. Welcome back! Na-miss ka namin hehe. May sabit ka na ba ngayon kaya 'di ka madalas mag-blog? :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Anu yung name nung bar sa aurora?
    Or yung exact address na lang and panu puntahan

    1. Dreamboyz near J.Ruiz. Sama ka sa akin minsan.


Feel free to share what you think