It is probably the most popular cinema in the gay community in Manila. It is situated on Recto avenue. Goers or cruisers call themselves "students" as euphemism while they call the cinema "school". It is ordinary to hear among themselves statements such as "Are you going to school?" when in public.
I was 19 years old when I first entered Dilson Theater. A male partner of mine took me to that place. I was too hesitant to enter although there was a bit of excitement. I was excited about what I could see inside. Of course I was not innocent about the possibility things or actions that I might see. But I was too nervous. My partner even insulted me of being pretentious. Well! He had no idea what I was actually feeling. I was afraid, nervous but excited since it would be my first time. I could not blame him for thinking I was pretentious since it was also in a cinema where we first met. But that cinema was not like Dilson.
He paid for the entrance fee which was PhP50. The cinema has two floors, regular and deluxe. Since it was my first time, I became over-observant. I noticed the operating hours of the cinema, 2PM to 10PM. As we entered, there were a lot of people standing by outside the entry to the bigscreen. I didn't pay attention to their looks. All I knew was they were all looking at us.
We entered the first floor. It was too dark. I couldn't see anything around but the bigscreen which was showing an unfamiliar movie. It was also hot inside. It wasn't airconditioned. I could feel that there were a lot of men inside walking here and there. My heart was pounding so hard. He tried to look for seats for us.
There were plenty of seats but most of them were broken. He said we'd better go to the second floor. I followed him to the second floor. It was even darker. I couldn't see anything. He used his cellphone to get some light avoid so we wouldn't slip but it only helped a little. I knew he was too familiar with the place because he didn't show any sign of hesitation. He was also certain with what he has stepping on. Finally, he found seats for the two of us. It was only 15 minutes since we entered the cinema. Gradually, my eyes were beginning to adapt to the darkness of the area. I could now watch my surroundings. There were a lot of people. Some were standing or walking and some were sitting too. They were doing sexual activities which really startled me. I thought that it was a very sinful place. They were doing in public what was supposed to be done in private. The worst thing was some were doing it not by two's but as a group. The gestures of their hands and the movements of the heads were suggestive of a worldly mentality of the men inside the theater.
He asked me whether I was enjoying it or not. I replied with certainty "No!" He called me a hypocrite. I was not a hypocrite. It was not enjoying what I could see. I was too idealistic at that time. I demanded to leave the place for I could no longer contain what was happening inside Dilson. We left but I received contempts from him. Good thing we are no longer together. Going to that cinema was not the reason though.
After several years, I've found myself visiting that place alone. Haha! It is so funny. I used to be allergic to the sight of the cinema but then I learned to like it. Now I try hard to stop myself from going to it but I just can't help it. There are times of my visit that something happens and there are times when there is none. It's simply addictive. I got to know people and got to know their stories.
Some of the people who go to Dilson come from places a lot farther than from where I come. There is one man who admits that he travels 6-8 hours to Dilson and he visits 2 to 4 times a month. He is from Baguio City.
I started noticing almost every detail of the cinema from the people to the objects in it. There are more attendees during weekends, especially on a Saturday. Gays who frequent the cinema come from different walks of life, from uneducated to educated, from non-professional to professional, from poor to rich, although inside the cinema difference is out of the picture. Almost everyone inside goes to the cinema for a unanimous goal-- to find someone to play sex with.
I also arrived at some realizations. Doing a bit of drama like standing next to the guy you like to catch his attention is common. You don't have to be shy. But you must be open to rejection, and do not take it personally. If he likes you, you can invite him to take a seat. Some gays want to get involved or at least watch. You may ask your sex partner's permission if you want to invite someone else in the game. Meanwhile, if you are the type of person who values privacy, you can openly tell the person to leave or gesture to him. The common means of conveying your message of rejecting a watcher is by pausing.
The guards patrol sometimes. It is not clear to me what exactly is his purpose in roving. Some people whom I spoke with said that whoever is caught in the act will be asked either to pay a certain amount of money or clean the filthy restroom. Nevertheless, these patrol guards function in a good way. If you as a customer are being harassed, you can tell the guard on these people harassing you.
The second floor is darker and smaller than the first floor. It is most frequented by older goers and the more audicious ones. The older ones are there, I think, in order to obscure their age in the dark. The audacious ones are there to experience a more thrilling encounter usually in the form of threesome or total nakedness.
Some guys are not there for a plain fun. Some of them are callboys. It is not difficult to distinguish who they are because usually they are the ones who will off you their service.
In my last visit to Dilson, my purpose was just to feel companied. I think one of the things I like about going to places like that is the fact that I know I am surrounded by the people like me. I can chat with anyone of them and feel free.