The large EDSA International Entertainment Complex in Pasay City is Manila’s own toned-down version of the infamous Nana Plaza in Bangkok. The place is generally well known though there are quite a few taxi drivers around who have never heard of it. The large Heritage Hotel across the street is a landmark that even those drivers will know. Just saying “EDSA” won’t help anyone as it’s the name of one of the longest streets in the city.
The EDSA complex building is clearly marked outside by a number of large neon signs advertising both the name of the building and the bars inside. Punters entering the facility pass through a single entrance manned by heavily-armed police officers that comes complete with its own airport-style metal detector. There’s little in the way of a search done on foreigners though this does do a great job at keeping out beggars and scammers.
Through the entrance lies a large courtyard that is rarely very occupied. It’s nothing like the lively atmosphere that exists in Nana Plaza. For some who revel in the nightlife this may be a disappointment. For those who like to get right down to business without being hassled it may be a blessing.
The EDSA Complex and all of the bars it contains share a common owner. That doesn’t necessarily limit the variety of the bars however and it may even be a key reason that the rates at EDSA bars are much lower than those on P Burgos Street in Makati. Things also turn on a little earlier at EDSA than they do on P Burgos. While the bars may officially be open at 7 pm the dancing rotation doesn’t really get going until 8 or 9 pm. The complex closes at 2 am.
There are several bars in EDSA. They have names like Cotton Club and Casino Bar. Many like Pit Stop, Bullets & Arrows, Fire House and Space Girls even have their own themes. This means that the bars have different decorations and layouts. It gets a little reflection in the costumes worn too, but not much. A guy could be forgiven if he didn’t notice the silver boots worn by the women who dance at Space Girls for example.
All of the bars have stages and staff women who take turns dancing in shifts. Cotton Club seems to have the most women of any of the bars which makes sense since it’s also probably the largest. The women there wear red or black bikinis. In other bars women wear different outfits. The bikini is pretty usual. Some wear evening gowns. Nudity is nonexistent.
Most women who work in EDSA are generally attractive. Beauty is always a matter of opinion but a whole range of looks is represented at the bars. It’s impossible to say which bar is best since things can change from one night or even one hour to the next. A group of Asian businessmen can show up at any time and barfine a whole group of attractive women out of a single bar leaving any punters who wander in after wondering why the staff is so limited.
Due having a single owner prices are uniform throughout the bars of EDSA Complex. A regular lady drink costs 240 Pesos, which is about five and a half US dollars. Punters buy these for gals who work in the bars when they want to chat them up. Women working EDSA who want to bring in a little more money may ask for a “special” lady drink which costs 385 Pesos, though generally the gals are not pushy at all. Barfines which allow a lady to go home with a customer if they both agree cost 1950 Pesos ($45 US dollars).
If a customer wishes to chat with a girl he sees in the bar he can either call her over himself or ask one of the many waiters, waitresses or business-suit wearing mamasans to do so for him. If a dancer agrees to leave with a customer, payment of the barfines need to be discussed directly with a mamasan. Most women who work at EDSA seem happy to go out with nearly any customers who asks though there are always exceptions.
The payment of a barfine allows a lady to leave work early. It doesn’t include compensation she’ll expect from her customer. Some punters will negotiate the tip directly before paying a barfine while others will simply hand over a fair amount later on. What’s fair is up for debate. Most women who work at EDSA would want anywhere between 2500 and 5000 Pesos ($58 – $115 USD) depending on things like how long they stay with their customer and how much they like (or dislike) the guy. Some girls only want to do short time romps while others are happy to spend a night or even several nights with the right guy.
If a barfine is paid the lady will disappear into the back somewhere to put on her street clothes. She will also get a stamp that she can show to the police at the front entrance to indicate that she isn’t simply sneaking out of work. Customers can then take them to a nearby short time hotel, back to their own hotel, or somewhere else in the city to enjoy the nightlife.
Although the guarded entrance keeps scammers out of the complex itself, it doesn’t prevent price gouging taxis from waiting out front for unsuspecting punters. Any guy who exits the complex will quickly be guided to a waiting taxi by a “porter.” Not only will this porter ask for a tip for the grand act of pointing to a taxi, the taxi driver himself will ask for some ridiculous fee to take the customer wherever he is going. A trip that would usually cost something like 100 Pesos will be priced at 300-500 Pesos instead. Guys who don’t know any better or simply don’t want to deal with hassles are the most likely to get hustled here. The gals who work the bars usually won’t say anything even when they know the prices are crazy as they fear confrontation with the taxi drivers. Guys who don’t want to get ripped off can refuse the touts and simply walk a minute or two in either direction to hail a regular taxi who will be more likely to run the meter or at least give a fairer price.
EDSA International Entertainment Complex is a large facility with a lot of ladies. It doesn’t seem to be as popular as the bars of Burgos Street but the only real reason I can see for that is location. The bars and the women that work them are in general no better or worse and the prices are lower. The place has been around for a while and it doesn’t seem like it’s going away any time soon.