Bed Manila facade on their Facebook page
A bed is a piece of furniture where you can take respite in, after a hard day’s work to rest your body and mind. It is where you unmask and feel relief from the day’s aches and worries. And, for most gay and bi yuppies (young urban professionals), the same goes for Bed Manila, which continues to become one of the “it” places in Metro Manila’s gay scene. But does it really help to remove one mask only to put on another?
The Bed that Was
The old Bed in Malate on The McVie Show
Bed Manila has grown to be an institution, a household name for the gay community in the Philippines. It started out as a small dance club in Malate in 2003, outlasting almost all gay bars in the Metro. It has withstood the test of time. Even the fire of 2010 did not stop Bed, as it thrived even more and eventually developed into a massive three-floor party place. It did not, however, withstand the dwindling market in Malate the past year when most clubs in Cubao and Ortigas began to grow as go-to places for the working class.
In response, Bed Manila re-opened at Greenfield District in Mandaluyong, a good four miles away from Malate, in July of 2013. Its devoted habitués proved their loyalty, as the club quickly took root and easily regained its status as an “it” place in just a matter of months. But a lot of changes happened to the current version of Bed Manila.
The Bed that Is
From a three-story establishment, Bed backslid into a cramped two-level club, whose floors are connected by a staircase on one side and two poles on the stage. The second level is a loft area where club goers can have a good view of the stage and the crowd down below.
Bed Manila in Greenfield District on fiuzo.com
Bed was known for its thumping sound system when it was in Malate. Unfortunately, it was not able to bring this feature into the new location. The music, on the other hand, remains as danceable as before, an unfortunately genuine rarity in gay clubs in the Philippines. Electronic mixes of famous party songs continue to make each head bob with the beat. Bed even designates some nights exclusively to songs from one particular singer, a welcome idea most especially in a place full of people who know the words to almost every Britney Spears piece.
Gaining entrance to Bed, however, is no joke. Though it rolled back its entrance fee from 500PhP in Malate to 350PhP, not everyone is willing to spend so much, most especially since there are more affordable alternatives in Cubao and Malate. Food and drinks are priced a bit higher as compared to the other bars as well. Drinks are priced at least 50% more than most clubs. And while the food costs almost the same as others, it is presented in smaller servings.
But this elitist concept is exactly what makes the place special. It guarantees everyone who comes into Bed Manila a certain clientele much like themselves. To afford to be there, patrons will either have a stable job or otherwise come from a background to be able to spend a few good pesos on a night out.
As a matter of fact, this is precisely what makes Bed attractive to yuppies. If you go there on a Friday night, you will even see some guys wearing their office shirts with sleeves rolled to the elbows. While the crowd in Bed is a mix of guys of different ages, it is very noticeable that most of the party goers are young professionals, drinking their cocktails or holding their beer bottles by the neck.
Bed Manila was and continues to be unapologetically ambitious just like its patrons. Going to Bed has become a status symbol because it means one can support the kind of lifestyle the place is offering. Because of this, the yuppies, as a market, want the value of their pesos in return. They are paying well-earned money for the service, and they are expecting nothing less than exemplary service.
Bed, nonetheless, seems to be able to provide this, thanks to its hunky and attentive waiters, talented drag performers, and drool-worthy dancers. Indeed, it is a place where yuppies seem to be having fun. But the question is what kind of fun does this place have to offer?
Most gay guys go to bars to meet other guys, and the Bed crowd is no exception. They just do it differently. They go here to make sure that the crowd—their selection of new people to meet—is of high quality and the same calibre as they are. They need the guarantee that their future friends or lovers will be as driven and ambitious. And they want to identify themselves with the other up-and-coming people.
Unlike most bars, Bed is anything but naughty and nasty. Its crowd is, most of the time, behaved, talking to their friends in their respective tables, and rarely mingling with other patrons. While Bed brands itself as a gay dance club and despite the enthralling music, a lot of the dancing happens in the guys’ spots by their tables. Most are on their toes and very careful with their actions. Almost everyone is unconsciously self-conscious, if that’s even possible.
There are rare nights though where party goers become a bit bolder and take the empty stage. But most of the evenings at Bed are composed of heads bobbing, shoulders swaying, and arms waving to the beat. And because of the cramped space in the area, people have no choice but to share tables, and that is mostly how guys meet here. The hook-up system in Bed is so discreet, it’s almost invisible.
As a matter of fact, other gay guys even find this behavior among the Bed habitués pretentious. But then again, within the gay community is a wide spectrum of different tastes and preferences, and it would be unfair to judge others based on these differences.
Bed has earned its loyal party goers who frequent and make fond memories in the place. This should be enough proof that, despite its rather reserved and composed crowd, Bed continues to satisfy. And at the end of the day, that’s what actually matters.
Needless to say, while other gay clubs such as O Bar and Rapture are places of wild fun, Bed’s idea of fun is something different. And everyone will agree that this is exactly what Bed’s edge is against other bars. And as long as this works with the market they are targeting, Bed Manila will remain one of the most iconic places in the Philippine gay scene.
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