02C06: O Bar Is Almost of Legal Age In All Countries

O Bar @ 17

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 1010
Reading Target: 36 books left 

O Bar has been a safe space for the LGBT community for 17 years now and just thinking about that kind of boggles the mind. They survived the "death" of queer Malate along with a global pandemic and continue to put on some stellar shows for everyone who loves drag and other performing arts. They started with a half-riser as a stage and evolved into the massive entertainment space we have today and have been host to drag queens, singers, ballet dancers, poi dancers, aerialists, and even local folk musicians to name a few. And we love the space oh so dearly. 

As what seems to have become the habit in recent years, we ended with an interesting mix of O Bar regulars and newbies during the anniversary event last Saturday. It made for a unique table dynamic, but then again it's always like that at O. We've met so many people while there and have managed to forge some really important friends with a select few as well. Of course, I still hoped to see familiar faces during the night, which to some extent we did. But there were still a number of friends who weren't able to go and we continue to miss them. 

Jedd was DJ for the first part of the night and he really sent us on a nostalgia trip by playing a lot of "classics" from the Malate years. They're all solid songs on their own, but when you hear them all together like that, it really speaks to a particular demographic - those of us who would make the trek to the often dark streets of Malate, Manila just to be able to participate in something felt sort of illicit but was definitely a special kind community. And O Bar was one of those lights in the dark that become a home to so many.

The show, as always, was amazing. The O Divas, O Boys, O Ledge, and guest singers did a phenomenal job. As special as the performances are during event nights like last Saturday, every night at O Bar is always memorable in some way for me. You always hope to see numbers you love based on past encounters but you also get excited at the prospect of something new.

As someone who has taken it upon himself to try to somewhat document the magic of O Bar through photos and videos, it amazes me how much has changed, and yet how much also remains the same. There's a core to O Bar that remains solid and has become something that people just get drawn to once they feel that spark. And I'll concede that I didn't necessarily feel it the very first time I went. But when you do feel it and accept the reality of it, then you'll always come back in the hopes of connecting with that magic over and over again. I know this isn't a universal feeling, but it's part of the big reasons Tobie and I don't go clubbing anywhere else. 

O Bar has been around for 17 years and it has been around long enough to have helped establish many of the drag queens who have gone on to start in television drag competitions while others have branched out into other opportunities including relocating to other countries. It has been the medium for many friendships, many relationships and the forging of special chosen families. It has survived several poltitical regimes, the need to relocate multople times and even a number of sin tax increases. I'll always hope that O Bar will continue going strong for as long as possible, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't take the time to appreciate all that they've accomplished so far and what the place already means to so many.