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Dragon Mart: Partying at the fringes of a gas station

Remember the Valkyrie issue? When some transwomen complained because they were barred from the venue because they were supposedly “crossdressing”? And do you remember how the issue sort of divided the local LGBT community, with some supporting the complaining because it supposedly represented the issue of accessing establishments/services particularly of transwomen; while others seeing it as nothing but raising a ruckus over the elitist issue of not being able to party/social climb/hobnob with the wealthy/social climbers (packaged as LGBT discrimination)?

If you head out of metropolitan cities and see how local LGBT people party there, one may sort of see the “anti” position on the issue. Because there, they have more urgent issues, such as the abuses experienced by LGBT people at home – e.g. THIS and THIS – or their daily sustenance – e.g. THIS). And when they party at all, they don’t do it in self-proclaimed “exclusive” clubs that charge a regular employee’s salary for two or more days as cover charge. They’re content with doing it in… “common” places. Such as beside a gas station.

Enter the likes of Dragon Mart in General Santos City.

WHAT’S THERE

Dragon Mart is actually a chain of gas stations. So for the one at Arradaza corner Hicban Subdivision Street, General Santos City (where the members of the LGBT community gather now and then), there’s nothing fancy there at all. Instead, what people do is – when you arrive – grab some drinks from inside the convenience store of the gas station, and then bring what you bought to any of the tables right beside the gas pumps.

The rows of tables are divided into two – closer to the gas pumps are plastic tables and chairs, while (places on an elevated ramp) are wooden benches and wooden tables. The wooden ones are the “classier” ones, if they can considered that; while the plastic ones are the “less classy” ones. Though this segregation is somewhat unnecessary (and may just be based on appearances – e.g. the plastics are well-worn/used, so they appear dirty) since the place is a first-come-first-served basis (meaning, if you arrive earlier, you get to choose where you want to sit).

WHY GO THERE

Perhaps because General Santos City does not have that many party places to go to, many drop by Dragon Mart. But the appeal of the place also include: 1) less (if any) pretentiousness there (e.g. you drink with the tricycle drivers, as well as the yuppies of the city); and 2) the possibilities that can happen there (e.g. buy balot right across the street, and someone is bound to chat with you, get your number, or schedule… whatever.

WHY AVOID THE PLACE

Sans the pretentions, this is not for those who want to be deemed sosyal. This may not be ideal for those who have lung-related health issues, too (the fumes, duh!). And when it rains, the area with the plastic tables/chairs can become oh-so-wet.

IN CONCLUSION

Nonetheless, if it’s simple tambayan you’re after, this place isn’t bad.

Again particularly as it gives us all a glimpse of how people (LGBT people included) outside the big, BIG cities congregate to let their hair down…

Dragon Mart is at Arradaza corner Hicban Subdivision Street, General Santos City.

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