02A84: O Bar's First Night Back

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Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 630

This week marks our 90th week in community quarantine. It's also the week when O Bar has finally re-opened its doors to customers after all the craziness of our pandemic life. There's still a lot that I'll need to process about this week and I doubt I'll be able to cover all of those emotions in this post right off the bat. So let's keep things simple for now and maybe take things up again tomorrow. 

O Bar had announced that it would be open by 08:00pm, and we arrived only a little bit after that but they were still busy with final rehearsals. There weren't too many of us in the queue right away, so it was pretty okay and we spent the time talking to the staff and discussing how things were going to work.

The doors actually opened past 09:00pm and it took a while to process folks coming in given they were still doing manual contact tracing. Hopefully, they'll get their Pasig Pass scanning figured out in the coming weeks to help ease the flow of people coming in. So it was a somewhat slow start to things but we were among the first in and we ordered a LOT of food since we didn't have time to have dinner before we left the Sietch. Prices are a little higher than they used to be before the pandemic, but again that's understandable given all that's happened.

It was hard to keep to our respective tables as the staff was doing their best to keep everyone socially distant. If you had reserved a table good for 2, like we did, then no one else could visit us to say hello without one of us leaving the table and jumping somewhere else. So we did a lot of shuffling around in an odd version of musical chairs, but it was a system we could do our best to respect for everyone's safety. And there were other changes to things like how the ledge dancers only got to dance on stage instead of around the bar and even spaces like the bathrooms and the smoking area have player limits as well. 

The drag show started closer to 11:00pm, which is weird since in the pre-pandemic days the bar wouldn't even be open at that time. A lot of thought had gone into the song choices - there were strong messages about coming back home, rising up again, and other empowering messages. I have to admit that I got rather weepy more than once during the night, but it comes with the territory. The bar wasn't as full as it used to be given the capacity limitations, but the energy was still pretty amazing and it felt a lot like old times. 

The third and final drag set ended around 02:00pm, but we somehow ended up staying until when the bar closed at 04:00am. There was a lot of dancing, a lot of laughing, and a lot of heartfelt conversations with friends we hadn't seen in person for so long. Drunken conversations are always a little tricky to navigate, but they also tend to be very honest as well. 

So it wasn't quite like before, but it was totally what we needed it to be. It was a celebration of still being here and an acknowledgment of the struggles we've all been through because of the pandemic. And just because O Bar is open again, it doesn't mean things are perfectly fine already. I know the bar will still need to fight to stay alive in these uncertain times. And we'll also need to continue to remain prudent about mitigating the amount of risk we exposure ourselves to along with how we maintain our health. Life continues to move forward and we need to keep moving with the times.

But at least we may have a chance to take more of a break every now and then. 


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