May 15, 2016

[Pink Scene] The 5 Days of O Bar

Metro Manila's LGBT scene is largely represented by O Bar these days. It's not necessarily a spot that they aimed for - it just sort of happened as a lot of the other bars just closed down in recent years. But given how O Bar is open to everyone and not just the LGBT community, O Bar is always more than just a "gay bar" - if you can even call it that. It's a place where one can celebrate the miracle of drag, which remains to be the main feature of the bar.

So for those of you who are uncertain when to finally visit O Bar with your friends, maybe this little guide will help you. Here's my quick guide to the different days of O Bar.

WEDNESDAYS - I see this as the "start" of the 5-day O Bar week. The bar opens around midnight as normal but entrance is P100 cheaper versus the weekend and it still allows you three beers. You'll still get the key elements of the shows you've come to expect, but admittedly with some degree of editing down. There will still be some ledge dancers and you'll get a few poi performers (unless they took on outside gigs). But more importantly you still get a great drag show. Oh, and the tables are rearranged to provide a central dance area where you can get up close and personal with the ledge dancers if you want to. Crowd is pretty light and consists more of expats who found their way to the bar or call center folks with mid-week rest days. You'll actually be able to carry a conversation without shouting too much.

THURSDAYS - Entrance is still P100 less than weekends and you still have a central dance floor on nights like this. There's a somewhat larger crowd as more folks find time to visit after work despite the Friday ahead. With the larger crowd, you can expect the show to feel a notch or two higher. It's still pretty chill, but not as chill as Wednesday. Its a nice sweet spot in the week, if you can make time for it.

PRO-TIP: If you happen to like Karen of the O Divas, you're more likely to catch her on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

FRIDAYS - The weekend begins with Friday night so entrance is a full P500 but still 3 beer stubs. Things will get pretty full by 01:00am, so try to be there by midnight. Parking is also a bit of a pain past 01:00am so factor that into your plans. The shows will be a lot more organized with a bigger chance of a central theme tying things together. Friday is also the day of the week when an O Diva is most likely to celebrate her birthday with a "concert" - which is a whole set dedicated to a particular artist they love to impersonate or a theme of numbers close to their heart. These days, Fridays are when Tobie and I are most likely to go to O Bar given our busy daytime schedules. 

SATURDAYS - This is the craziest day of the O Bar week and the one that most people aim for. Expect the bar to be filled to MRT levels of capacity including the multiple VIP areas. A little pre-drinking will help since it's a harder to catch the attention of a  waiter as the night goes on. However this is the night when you will get the best drag shows that O Bar has to offer. We're talking recreating Broadway productions or Superbowl halftime shows. Catching an O Diva birthday celebration held on a Saturday can be quite insane, but amazingly so because you know things are going to be EPIC. Saturdays are also when O Bar mostly likely schedules its various Pride Parties, which involve even more mind-blowing drag performances and advocacy efforts like on-site HIV testing. Saturdays can be really tiring, but the fatigue can be quite worth it.

SUNDAYS - While they still charge the full weekend door price, things noticeably tone down on Sundays. You still get a decent crowd, but it won't be as big as Friday nights but still larger than Thursdays. Sundays are fun since the O Divas tend to cycle greatest hit numbers along with classics and everyone just wants to have a good time. You also have a bigger chance of catching potential Oh Divas or ledge dancers auditioning for the first time that night, if you can figure out who's new and who isn't. Sundays also have an unusually high possibility for celebrity appearances including the entourage troupes of major theater companies who are in town for traveling Broadway musicals. If I didn't have early meetings on Mondays, I'd totally go to O Bar on Sundays more. It's one of my favorite days.

So that's the O Bar week, at least from my perspective. When do you most likely go to O Bar? Or if you have never been there, which day sounds most appealing to you given your schedule?

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