It is midnight and I rush into Xylo coming from a dinner with my more adult friends — these days, the shuffle is real, balancing schedules for dinners and meeting up with people you haven’t seen in years. Events are slowly coming back. Get-togethers with friends are finally being posted — without masks. You can now safely upload a photo with your nearest and dearest without explaining that “Everyone was tested here and we just removed our masks for the sake of this photo.” Lolz.
“Tbh (to be honest) I’m still not used to this,” said Nix, a dear friend of mine who found solace living on their own side of Batangas away from the city. “But I’m happy to see the scene back, bouncing, alive and kicking!” he told me as we people-watched from our own little corner at Revel for a friend’s birthday party. It wasn’t easy finding our own little nook in a place and space that had people packed side to side, bodies bouncing against each other. To me, this was comfort zone levels as I sort of grew up in the club scene. I felt right at home.
Past midnight and closer to 1 a.m., girls in gold started to march down the aisle, holding countless bottles of Moët Chandon in one hand and sparklers in the other. The ceiling of the club started to mirror the action as lights, cameras and action were everywhere. It felt like pre-pandemic life, only better. Why better? Well, it is obvious from all that was happening around me that people have missed seeing each other and being in a club.
But there was something different. After being stuck and home enveloped in paranoia, people were hugging each other, kissing (some more than this) and finally not being socially distant. People got tired of being scared and are finally out and about, living their lives.
Every now and then, when the opportunity would present itself, I would find myself abroad where I could see and experience people treating COVID differently. I would feel sort of envious of how other people from other countries seemed to handle it so well. They continued on with their lives despite the trauma that this pandemic has caused. They didn’t let fear take over. They have learned how to treat COVID like the common flu. From America to Europe and even our nearby neighbors, Singapore and Thailand, bars and clubs are finally open again.
On the other side
But I totally get where we are coming from — we grew up in a culture of fear-mongering, for, as kids, we were always warned by our parents and yayas about being given to the neighborhood police, to the “bumbay” (so un-PC!), or to Jesus himself. We were ruled by the cross and let fear become our comfort zone. It would take a lifetime of unlearning but many of us have already done it.
On the other side of town in Poblacion, new bars have opened: Dear Adam, Sweet Lucy, this new rooftop hangout in this building called Havitat is packed with techpreneurs and their friends. Poblacion has become the Silicon Valley (or, as others jokingly say, “Sinigang Valley”) where startups have chosen to set up shop. After work, Poblacion is their playground. This little village has many secrets. I am slowly and surely rediscovering it. Old favorites are Wantusawa for oysters and Kampai for drinks and music. Last week I visited Spirits Library to listen to the Bleu Rascals, a blues band playing on top of the bar. After that I went to HQ (the former Nokal) now being run by the Careless crew of James Reid et al.
As we know, the past two years robbed kids of their “kidulthood.” Imagine being in college or earning from your new job, and not being able to go to clubs. I am not into the phrase “revenge partying,” but this is actually what is happening. Revenge is not the best way to describe it, as it reeks of shallow indulgence. I would like to think the pandemic has taught us more valuable lessons. It surely has imparted more than its fair share to me.
I was once a hamster on a wheel, hustling and bustling nonstop. Like there was no tomorrow. Now that we are on Alert Level 1 and hopefully going to zero, my friend Bianca asked me, “What has changed?” “Well,” I said, “I’m still a hamster. Only this time there is no more wheel.”
So back to my Xylo story, on that Friday night of gold and glam. I looked around and said “hi” to everyone; hugged many tightly. DJ Mars Miranda was in his element, toasting with a glass of Moët, looking dapper in a suit as he spun one hit after another. He has not lost his touch and his pulse with the people. But something was different. A lot of my old friends were not at the clubs — they were at home tending to babies, born out of pandemic productivity, and have embraced a happy kind of boredom as part of their lives. Respect to them, and totally no judgment on my part. For me, there is no right or wrong, only left or right. People go and grow in different directions.
But, as with all cycles, when a generation moves on, a new batch comes right in to take the reins. Welcome the next; they are the now. Kids of my older friends who are now excited to be out and about. They now own the night. I forbade all of them to call me Tito Tim. Just Tim.
Anyways, I am happy to be back writing in this space I call home to let you know that nightlife is back, and so am I!