Manila report: fascination with the dramatic

OK, I spoke too fast about the rain in the last post. We got drenched here on Saturday day and night, resulting in more floods (baha!) throughout Manila. I was inside most of the day at the dance competition, so the only major impact on me was not being able to get to a salsa club I wanted to check out.

The competition is finally over, and I’m very happy about that. Arvin & Gwyneth got to the semi-final round before they were eliminated. Getting them to compete meant talking each of them out of quitting twice in the 3 days, supporting them individually, and then working their butts to improve the dance. Bottom line, 3 months is not enough time to train someone from nothing to champion level, but she did a darn fine job. The competition itself was quite trippy. Not quite Strictly Ballroom, but close. Like that without the proper funding so it was in a gym, not a hotel. But the politics were there, and the sense of what was Right and Wrong was everpresent. I’m intrigued by the ballroom scene in much the same way I’m attracted to mini-golf courses and monster truck races. The commitment to an alternate aesthetic is quite incredible to me.

Last night went to Music Box, which features a gay boy and two trans girls singing and making jokes, reminding me of my HIV prevention buddies at their most sparkly and viscious humor. Quite a crowd there. Some of the “cool” in-crowd (straight) who are there to watch and occasionally sing, some tourists, some regular gays, and a wealthy older gay man and his pack of 3 young beautiful boys. Made me appreciate SF even more (as if I need that), where roles were not quite so rigid, and where there are options that are not quite so seedy. (Yes, some are more seedy, but that’s also true here)

Tonight I go ballroom dancing, which is far more intense in Manila than in Davao. I’m excited to see it. Tomorrow I happily return to Davao, where I can walk, be outside and get to the beach.


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