I haven’t had the luxury, chance and time to travel with the family due to my forever kaartehan (excuses include but not limited to: I’m dirt poor. I have work na. I have summer classes pa…. cuz I’m smart lykdut. USA is so overrated. I’d rather save up for Bahia, Brasil) and in effect created this whole perspective that Hong Kong is the world. Manila is New York. High Street is Chelsea. And La Salle, NYU. The walls were built so high that my world spans the stretch of EDSA and sometimes the Piso Fare on holidays. With my recent travel, the walls came crashing down in Castro, every bit of it.
And let me just say that the Castro District in San Francisco is Nakakaloka! what more sa East Coast, diba!
I was fortunate that a friend of mine from Los Angeles was willing and energetic enough to pick me up in the suburbs of San Jose (where their playlist consists of a looped Rhiana, Nicki Minaj and Selena Gomez music! It’s crazy I tell you… crazy to the point of you downloading and eventually loving it.) and have a weekend of pure and surprisingly unadulterated fun in the city. So thanks love! It took me 13 years to go back there and 8 years plus a gazillion shots later to bring back 2000 again.
I’ve been around Manila’s nightlife back when Hotel Celeste was Mars and that car shop in Libis was Twilo. Madison Avenue and Alice Deejay were the shiznit. Picotto went to Where Else and some mainstream DJ in Phenomenon. 9PM was not a curfew, but an anthem before Ever After. I don’t want to remember the kagagahan days anymore. You take a step backwards when looking back. Nevertheless, crazy is one word I can think of that best defines it. Our kagagahans are building blocks of our present day selves. We were there for the prohibited and the contraband back when we were young. A complete attendance at NBC Tent- don’t you just love those times? And soothing mixtures of two parts alcohol, a jigger of juice with a twist of lime up until now… but most of all, we come together for friends we adore, the family we love and a probability of finding someone. And now that we are all semi-independent in a way, we relish whatever the third world has to offer; pretentious or real.
Manila is to JD Coke as San Francisco is to Vodka Cranberry. Different drinks, same shit. It’s comforting to know that our Manila nightlife has a shared look in the global dance floor. Lights, glass and metal, bricks… music even. So in the looks arena, we have it! Thank History for 300 years of western domination. No need for a Piso Fare to Lang Kwai Fong or miss Castro for that matter. But we epically FAIL on the basics that I can’t put into words.
For one, I felt FREE! It is the mantra of the free world that you can do, say or be whoever you want to be. Strangely, this belief trickles down to how they have a good time. Nobody cares if you want to make out as the mirror ball spins above your head while Kylie’s All The Lovers plays in the background and three random drag queens murder the dance floor. Nobody cares if you’re a son of a politician and they won’t even give a damn if your forefathers land-grabbed half a province. No need for bouncers and VIP guest lists for the simple reason that nobody cares. Your only requirement is to wear an ensemble, which includes face value and a few bucks.
Conversation is as important as looks. We never converse here in Manila. Our details are shared only within THE GROUP- the group that we’ve known and grew up with since high school. This is probably one reason why our walls are so high. We believe in exclusivity and the first world requires a buffet station of stories, information and delicious conversations. You smoke outside and a chance of a casual chitchat with a complete stranger without any agenda whatsoever is high. Do that in the Fort (ohh, the Fort) and prepare to be labeled as a potential predator. Lesson learned. Be a conversationalist- Romanticize with words, ooze confidence and draw attention.
The roots of it all could probably be the great divide. We have a non-existent middle class while any commonwealth state requires one to be a majority. We build our walls the same reason we live in gated communities, a protection from the unfamiliar. In return, it cages us to venture into something different and probably something bigger.
We may have the looks but Manila still has a long way to go in terms of substance. Hate to say it love but we are definitely all pretentious. It’s definitely time to bring the walls down.
On a lighter note, I went to a so-called Circuit Party. And it was NAKAKALOKA! It’s basically an underground scene of shirtless meats dancing under a black-lit space. It’s a ‘Fuck the world, I don’t care’ theme on a SUNDAY! It wasn’t offensive at all and everything was tastefully done much like their nightlife… unlike here, ugh.
Manila is definitely not prepared for this. If kaya, it will be poorly executed. This was definitely an experience… had no choice and take everything in kaya nag-shirtless na rin ako. Lol! New York daw is better… oh well, baby steps.