02C67: O Bar Grounding

Sunday Airline Food

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 1107

As I write this blog post, I'm already in Singapore for a 3-week work/family trip. The journey itself wasn't too stressful and I got through it okay despite not having as much sleep as I probably should have given two days of board game sessions and of course an O Bar event night. Funnily I realize this trip will more or less begin and end with O Bar as we're already scheduled to go the Saturday right after I get back to Manila in April.

I've written about the different things I like to do before a trip and O Bar always comes up on that list. I'm not exaggerating when I say that O Bar is one of the reasons that Tobie and I have never put any serious thought into the possibility of migrating to other countries and things of that nature - the place is really that important to us. And no other drag bar, whether back home or in other countries, has quite the same importance to us as O does. And so I like to have an O Bar night as part of my pre-flight activities because I know I'm going to miss the performers and staff who make up our O Bar family.

There was a point in the night where I was just looking around at the different groups still lingering after the third drag performance set and was just appreciating it all. From its humble beginnings in Malate, O Bar has grown into something truly magical. And the fact that it survived the challenges of the pandemic lockdowns says a lot about the team's commitment to keep the bar open for as long as possible. O Bar is many things to different people and the role it plays within our community is an important one.

At the end of the day, we're just customers who happen to go a wee bit more than most. But I also recognize that we've become very close to a lot of the people who work there and we can go as far as calling them friends and part of our extended family. And I really do treasure the bond we feel and share with them and the friends who share our table with us or that we just see there regularly. We're all tapping into a unique kind of magic while also strengthening it and helping it grow.

I'm sure others will see it as not being that different from other such spaces, and that's understandable. It takes a certain spark to help you appreciate how O Bar is more than just a place to drink and catch a good show. It's when you really get to know the people whether it's through cultivating regular waiters that you prefer to work with or the quick chats with the drag queens as they go around the bar asking for tips after the show. It's the people more than the physical space itself that makes O Bar so special.

I feel like there's a lot more that I want to say but I don't quite have the words for it just yet. I blame the usual tiredness that comes with traveling to a different country, especially when coming from the Philippines. Maybe I'll come back to this during the week.