Wednesday, January 23, 2013


"Let's make a story," I told Darfie. He was downing his third bottle of Tanduay Ice when O-Bar's show girls took the small stage.

"Once upon a time, when O-Bar Ortigas was just an experiment - a doomed experiment I used to say." I paused to watch a drag queen lip sync to Rihanna. "These ladies were asked if they'd like to be assigned there." 

"Or they'll stick with Malate."

At that time, every out guy wants to be seen in Orosa. It's the gay capital, not even the dingy but cheap Palawan bars could match.

"Of course, no one wants to perform in Ortigas. Nobody goes there." I tossed my cigarette and kicked it under the table. "So they stuck with Malate, leaving the present Dream Girls of Ortigas running the show."

"For some reasons, they agreed never to switch places."

"Now Malate's patrons are disappearing. Pansin mo naman, kung hindi mga tanderz ang pumupunta dito eh mga affam* na katulad ni Miss Jay." Miss Jay was the black guy who wore a muscle shirt, a very short, shorts and fishnet stockings to complement his skinny legs. He looked like Miss Alexander of ANTM.

"Kaso wala na pumpunta ng Malate. Hindi na jampack dito gaya noon." Darfie nodded. "Lahat tayo, sa Ortigas ume-eksena."

After thirty minutes of lip syncing and sashaying, the girls' performance had ended. They went down the stage to collect tips. Unlike in Ortigas where I hide from these queens, I gave enough cash to buy a bottle of San Mig Lights. The lady holding the bag thanked me before shoving it to the guy behind.

It was one of those chilly Saturday nights. I was restless, lonely and feeling a bit blue. I was allowed to stay out, but I had nowhere to go. Ditching boredom, I went back to the dance floor. I chose Malate over Ortigas because the cover charge was cheaper. Darfie, my twitter acquaintance was also there.

"Felt like I leveled down." I told him after the party. "Kung hindi estudyante eh mga laborers kasama natin." I was telling him earlier of a friend who is a Starbucks Executive. He goes to Ortigas. Meanwhile, a twink barista was one of the revelers among us that morning.

The call boys still lined the stretch of Nakpil even when daybreak was fast approaching. In desperation, some even tried to call our attention. I traded naughty glances with them.

"This place is dying."

No longer the fairy land of our time, Malate is now an echo of its colorful past. Gone are the nights when men of every shade of pink spilled over the streets after they can no longer stand suffocating inside the bars. The corner of Nakpil and Orosa used to be a melting pot of ideas and dramas. And while love and lust were found and lost there, people return to purge themselves. It is their way of renewing the bonds that attached them to the community.

There is no doubt that I'd return. Malate has always been home. And even when the club who had seen the best and worst of times will be, but a history come February.

"After seven party years, O Bar Malate will be closing its doors on January 31, 2013." I read on Facebook. "We would like to thank everyone who helped us become what we are today. More power to all of you! See you all at O Bar Ortigas!

Party out......Party loud!"

Life will move on. Another wicked dance club will take its place.

Like all dance clubs and watering holes before it, O-Bar Malate has served its purpose. No longer a place to have fun or forget one's sorrow, I hope that those who have seen its pink walls and green laser lights more than half a decade of their lives will find a place of solace: some to perform on stage and for some, to forget the present even just for a night.

*affam - white/black gay men


red the mod said...

The crowds never leave, they just change venues. O-Bar has gone far beyond expectations. Most bars have a shelf-life of only 2 years (often less). Beyond which, reinvention is mandatory. Do not worry, Malate is a phoenix, and a rebirth is inevitable.

Off-topic, board exams na sa Friday at Sunday. Haha!

Désolé Boy said...

Hmmnn never had the chance to grace its dance floor. I've only been to Chelu and Bed. But I do hope that "Malate" herself would survive the changing times. I don't love the place, but I'm fascinated with it.