A couple of weeks after the first time I ever set foot in the macho dancer bar we call “Earthling”, Jessica’s birthday came up. Jess, Ella and I celebrated Jess’s natal day over a carbo loaded dinner (I must have gained a pound from that dinner alone). Afterward, Jess’s dessert treat was a night out in Earthling.
We walked inside Earthling, less nervous and giggly compared to the first time. The same floor manager met us and seated us in the exact same spot we occupied the first time we were in Earthling. This time around we had the courtesy to learn the floor manger’s name. Let’s call him Pipay in this blog.
Jessica requested Ramon again and us girls ordered drinks. To our surprise, a nearly bald dancer strutted to our table instead of the Ramon we knew who had K-Pop inspired hair. Upon closer inspection, the said guy was indeed Ramon. He just shaved his hair off. To look younger, Ramon said. Jessica and I were in agreement that the long hair suited Ramon better but we did not say that to his face.
Jess suggested we get another dancer to keep Ella company. We knew Ella fancied Carlo when she saw him on stage the first time around but Jess and I didn’t really remember how Carlo looked like. All we recalled was that he was dark and a good dancer with a good body. Duh. It’s a macho dancing bar. Dancers are supposed to be good dancers with good bodies (ideally).
Pipay came to our table lugging an indeed dark boy with her soon after we whispered to her that we wanted to surprise Ella. Jess and I took a good look at the face of the dark boy. We talked in whispers and wondered why the boy didn’t’ seem attractive looking. We told Pipay we made a mistake. Maybe it’s not Carlo that Ella wanted. Maybe we got it mixed up.
It wasn’t until Ramon confirmed that it was Carlo that Ella fancied that Jess and I realized we shouldn’t have let go of the boy Pipay brought to us. Ramon was in our table and was witness to Ella’s avid interest in Carlo the first time us three were in Earthling. Jess and I were surprised. From where we were seated, the boy Ella fancied seemed good-looking. The Carlo we were face to face with was average looking at best. Jess and I hurriedly told Pipay we made a mistake and requested that Carlo be brought to our table again.
Pipay went to the dressing area to get Carlo (again) but returned empty-handed. Carlo apparently told Pipay that he’s expecting a guest and can’t join us that night. To this day Jess and I wonder if Carlo was really expecting an important (and maybe rich) regular guest that night or if he was miffed that we initially rejected him. As I mentioned before, Jess and I are like little girls together. We might have offended Carlo without intending to. We never said anything negative or offensive to him in any case.
The incident with Carlo didn’t faze me and Jess. We were hell-bent on getting a dancer join Ella and entertain her. Ella looked stressed that night and was even teary eyed with fatigue. We told Pipay our plan and she encouraged us to take a look in the “aquarium”. The aquarium is a small room where the dancers not performing on stage are assembled. A supposed one-way mirror (which in reality is not at all a one-way mirror; the dancers just pretend not to notice that anyone is looking at them like fruits ripe for the picking) enables customers to pick out a dancer that catches their fancy. Ella was feeling shy about having a dancer accompany her so Jess and I picked one for her. We saw various dancers clad in their standard black wife beaters, boxer shorts and boots inside the room. Some looked bored, some were texting, some were playing games.
Jess pointed out this guy sitting with his right profile to us. The guy had a nice profile. His complexion is what we would call moreno (nicely tan) in Filipino. The guy was slim, was a semi-skinhead and had aquiline nose that does not at all look like the product of a rhinoplasty. He does not look stunning at first glance but indeed, that guy has a pretty face.
We ended up getting that pretty faced guy to be Ella’s companion. “Ned”, 23 years old (he initially said he’s 22 but later admitted to being 23) had a shy smile and Ella agreed that he indeed is a looker in a subtle way.
Ella more or less enjoyed Ned’s company, from what I saw. Ella later confessed though that she saw Ned more as a brother than anything else. Ella also shared that Ned, despite working in a macho dancing bar like Earthling, was rather conservative. Ned apparently told Ella that unlike men who have been to girly bars, girls who have been to gay bars seem worse off and are looked at differently. Ned didn’t seem to have said it as an observation but as his own personal opinion.
To my left were Ramon and Jessica. There were periodic silences between them. When I would notice that they were just sitting there not talking much, I would prod them to chat with one another.
As for me, I was trying to outdo myself drinking that night. I haven’t drunk in a while. I wanted to test if I still had my high tolerance level for alcohol. I don’t know for sure if that was what motivated Jess to suggest that I also pick a dancer to sit with. I thought maybe I was being a nuisance to Jess’s conversation with Ramon. I didn’t want to be a nuisance on her birthday so I agreed. However, I didn’t want to make a second trip to the aquarium so I told Jess to pick one out for me.
Jess returned a while later with a dancer. I looked up and saw a European looking fellow who was tall, had pale white skin (suspiciously a result of glutathione products that are famous in the Philippines), muscular bordering on flabby and reminded me of a popular celebrity in the Philippines. “Banjo” was the dancer’s name and he was unsmiling as he stood next to the couch I was sitting on.
I was on my second (or third?) beer by then. I remember hissing at Jess something that went like: “Why did you pick this man for me? Do you hate me? You owe me!” Jessica asked me if I wanted to “return” Banjo to the aquarium. I chose not to for a number of reasons that ran through my alcohol clouded mind. First, Jessica picked Banjo for me. It’s her birthday treat and I wanted to respect Jessica’s choice. After all, I did waive my right to choose. Also, it seemed downright rude to return Banjo before he even sat down and had a drink. I knew how dancers earn from commissions on drinks that guests order for them. Seeing Banjo and knowing his stage name made me feel responsible to ensure that he earned something at all that night. So Banjo stayed.
Banjo is not at all bad-looking. In fact, another floor manager later on described Banjo as one of the dancers who had a face to flaunt. Despite starting to drown in beer, I assured Jess that I could be nice to Banjo. I can be pretty pleasant when I want (or feel the need) to be. The main reason why I didn’t feel comfortable seeing Banjo walk towards me was that he looked like a villain to me (sorry, Banjo). I am more drawn to pleasant-looking, angelic types. Banjo, on the other hand, is good-looking in the smoldering, villainous way.
Banjo was bashful at first since he knew I did not choose to have him sit beside me. He confessed that he’s most comfortable when a client personally picked him. Surprisingly, Banjo was easy to talk to. He was a simple man who seemed to have a provincial upbringing. He even shared that he dreams of owning a farm someday. My time with Banjo was spent like this: me drinking two more beers and getting a tad drunk while asking Banjo serious questions about his life.
Banjo pointed out to me at some point that our talk was serious compared to the ones he had with his other guests in Earthling. I asked Banjo what he wanted to do with his life after his stint in Earthling. Banjo claimed he was 27 but I seriously think he shaved at least a good three to five years from his real age. Banjo is definitely in his senior years as dancer despite being a well-oiled vintage vehicle.
I guess I asked Banjo difficult questions. Meanwhile, the other guests and their dancers in Earthling were either laughing, locked in an embrace or indulging in some other affectionate form of touching. I even saw a lady who looked as though she were in her late 40s to early 50s kiss a macho dancer on the lips. Definitely, no one looked like they were being interrogated the way Banjo was in the hot seat.
Banjo, later that night, told me that he appreciated being made to face the questions I posed. He even shared some of his dreams, worries and concerns. I listened while drinking mineral water. Jess halted my beer-drinking spree as I was about to drink my fifth bottle. Instead, Ramon offered to drink my fifth bottle for me. Jess ordered mineral water for me so I can get on the wagon to sobriety
As Jess and I were making our way back to our table from the ladies’ room, Banjo was onstage dancing. Banjo, to his credit, came alive on the dance floor. He was clearly a veteran in his trade. He was confident and good at emoting.
I tried to compliment Banjo when he returned to our table. Unfortunately, the alcohol seemed to make me extra chatty so it came out wrong. I ended up giving Banjo the impression that he was great onstage because he looked better from afar. Another foot-in-mouth moment for Andrina.
We witnessed Ramon macho dance that night, too. Ramon obviously had training as a dancer. His moves were fluid and he was highly flexible. He seemed sexually charged onstage. His eyes were piercing and the angelic, shy boy I thought he was was nowhere to be seen during that dance number.
After his dance number, Ramon resumed his seat between Jess and me. He seemed quiet and sullen. I didn’t know what Jess made of it.
Later on, Jess told me I told Ramon many times that he’s only in our table again that night because Jess has a crush on him. I remember telling Ramon something like that about two times but I didn’t recall saying it as many times as Jess claimed. I only told Ramon that because he struck me as a shy boy (that was before I saw him dance). The first time I teased him that Jess has a crush on him, he looked embarrassed. I repeated the rib because I was drunk and wanted to see Ramon embarrassed yet again.
Jess further told me that as we were leaving and taking a few pictures near the hallway, Ramon didn’t want to join in a photo where I was holding the camera and I shouted at him to hurry, join the group and stop being fussy (“huwag kang maarte, Ramon!”). Jess told me Ramon looked like he was about to cry. I honestly don’t recall saying that in a mean way. The way I saw it, I was just getting things done. In any case, Ramon joined the group and smiled one of his angelic, sweet smiles. In any case, I was drunk so I should be forgiven if I was extra loud or less nice. Besides, Jess made me feel so terrible about the whole thing by constantly reminding me about how I behaved. Jess knew how to make me feel really bad and guilty.
I was remorseful after the effects of alcohol wore off. I swore off drinking and considered my drinking days over. I told Jess I wanted to make it up to her because she didn’t seem pleased that Ramon might think that indeed Jess has a crush on him. Jess said that we will be back in Earthling because she will host a Christmas celebration for her, me and Ella there.
Gulp. Another night in Earthling? A chance to make it up to Jessica (and Ramon, too, if Jessica picks him again). What else?