“Why the fuck would anyone want to ring the bell? I just don’t get it I would never do that”. So began my conversation with Shagger whilst sitting around the pool waiting for our Bunny Burger orders to arrive. Straight away I replied “but didn’t you ring the bell a couple of times in Neros”? “Yeah sure I did” he quickly quipped “but that was when I was a newbie and didn’t know any better. I didn’t get a dam thing for spending all that money and I would never do it again now that I know what I know”. Despite his lack of anything resembling a grasp of the English language Shagger is no dummy but as our conversation progressed I just couldn’t help myself so I said to him “geez Shagger anyone would think you were a campanologist” a campa what he replied” and now I knew I had him “a campanologist” I reiterated and had great satisfaction in seeing the what the fuck look cross his features. I was just about to explain what a campanologist was and put Shagger out of his misery when our Bunny Burger food turned up and our attention was instantly diverted to ravenously devouring the delicious food.
Later on that night when I was sitting in the bar I remembered my conversation with Shagger and it occurred to me that the mere fact there was a word such as campanologist demonstrated how much part of our culture the simple act of bell ringing is. Now I can see you readers running for your dictionaries looking for a definition of campanologist but let me save you the trouble a campanologist is basically someone who likes ringing bells and yes there are many of them out there and probably even some who are reading this article.
Shagger and I often have different points of view and usually they result in me having to write articles such as this to make him understand mine. No matter what he says about not understanding why people ring bells the fact is a lot of people do it including many AE members and it is very much part of the AC bar scene. As such I thought it would write down my thoughts and make an article of it. I hope you guys enjoy reading it and it is at least thought provoking plus entertaining.
When Shagger said he couldn’t understand why people would ring the bell in a bar this prompted me to think about the thought process behind the action and here are the factors I have been able to identify. I think the primary reason people ring bells is because they want to make a statement. I always compare this sort of behavior to that of drinking champagne in a bar. As the old line goes “why do people drink Champagne….. because they can. In other words they are making the statement that I can afford to drink Champagne and I think much the same thought process often underlies people ringing the bell. Is it showing off yes it is but at the end of the day it’s harmless to others and the brief moment of self aggrandizement actually benefit’s the bell ringer, the bar and the girls working there.
Treasure Island the smallest bar with the biggest bell in AC. You would be amazed how many people ring the bell in Treasure Island just because it’s so big and prominent in the bar.
Talking about the girls this brings me to my next reason. Some people actually ring the bell because they know all the girls get a commission on the drink and this is merely an efficient way for them to buy bulk ladies drinks.It has often amused me to see how some customers become genuinely attached to a certain bar and the girls who work there and ringing the bell is for these people just another way to express this attachment. When I have presented this argument to people some have countered by saying I would rather express my affection for the girls by giving every girl on stage a 50 piso note. I usually counter this by saying well that helps the girl but it doesn’t help the bar whereas ringing the bell helps both.
The attachment people feel to a particular bar or the girls there in is often played upon to get a bell ring. A classic example of this was Mummy Perla of Neros fame who would find out when a customer was leaving and straight away if it was his last night she would get on the microphone and tell the Dj to play leaving on a jet plane. After the song was finished the girls would go into a rousing cheer of ring the bell, ring the bell and many times gentlemen customers did exactly that. For me this was annoying but I also found it interesting to see how they would use music in an attempt to trigger an emotional response and get the resultant bell ring.
One definite reason why people ring the bell is to celebrate. On many occasions I have seen people ring the bell to celebrate a particular event. For example some guys ring the bell to celebrate their birthday, their wedding, their new relationship with a girl from that bar, the birth of a child and so on. One thing about the bell ringing in the Philippines is that the ringer gets to leave a message these are usually painted on the wall, or the mirrors, or they are inscribed on a plaque or even marked by a plastic Gecko. I have often seen guys ring the bell because they want to leave a particular message for themselves and others to see in the future. The message acts as a reminder of the good times they are having in the bar.
I have always found atmosphere to be a key ingredient of a successful bar and ringing the bell is one sure fire way to bring the atmosphere up a notch. In most bars the girls will respond with a massive cheers or by simply giving the customer a kiss on the cheek. Either way the girls know they have just secured a commission from the ladies drink and the atmosphere of the club is automatically raised. One of the best bars for this was Dirty Duck. Once the bell was rung the atmosphere of excitement and partying was almost tangible and the dancing became almost frenetic. When the ladies drink was tequila you would see some ducking and weaving trying to avoid having to do the tequila but in the end it was inevitable and the party started to roll from there. I think the fact that ringing the bell creates a party ambiance in the club is a major reason why people ring it. For me this logic is best summed up by the bell ring sign in Golden Nile.
Exactly the same logic pervades behind poppers. These are supposed to create a party type atmosphere or at least a celebratory one with the contents being displayed like in a ticker tape parade. The poppers are actually loud and automatically remind one of special celebratory evenings such as New Years or your favorite teams victory. The Poppers are also a unique way of dispersing money to the girls. People will fill them up and insert money which then explodes along with the ticker tape onto the girls. With the poppers it is possible to literally make it like it is raining money.
Believe it or not some peoples motivation for ringing the bell is to take advantage of a certain situation or a special offer. One classic example of this is the voodoo diamond bell ring which costs 7500 piso and for that you get 8 hours all you can drink, one free ewr, one free bucket of balls, a t-shirt, a bar towel, 10% off food and drinks in kokomos, free 2 hour stay in kokomos hotel, a free pizza and a tray of daily shooters. In other bars such as Lollipop they give away free merchandise including T shirts beer coolers bar towels etc .
Often a bell ring can result from a managers salesmanship ability or as some would call it the managers pressure. In this case the managers are normally lowly paid and will be offered a commission on the bell ring. This of course gives the manager an added incentive to find a customer to ring the bell. One manager I knew always used to get bell rings and when I asked him “are you on commission or something” he replied, “no I just like the sound of a bell ringing” and it seemed like he wasn’t the only one judging by the amount of bell rings he used to have. A manager who cares nearly always uses the bar sales as his barometer to measure how well he has done his job and when it comes to making money for the bar there is no quicker or efficient way than a customer ringing the bell. Perhaps this is why some managers verge on obsessive compulsive when it comes to getting that bell ring.
The bell ring is in most cases inextricably linked with the bell ringers ego. Some guys do it to show of how much money they have, some do it to create the number of bell rings in one night record, some do it so they look like big spenders in front of the girls and some do it just because they want to show they can party harder than the other customers in the bar. There are of course what I call the understated bell ringers and these people will get their partner or one of the girls to ring the bell for them preferring to let that person bask in the limelight rather than themselves. This is in some ways the direct opposite of the person who rings the bell to say hey look at me but at the same time it is a kind of reverse egotism sitting back and demonstrating you can pull the strings and make things happen without even being noticed. This is in some ways the puppeteer approach to bell ringing.
Ping Pong balls first came into use in Angeles from Thailand. I have asked myself many times why people would throw ping pong balls at the girls only to find out I do not have any real answer and yet I throw ping pong balls myself. When I sit back and analyze this behavior in myself I think I throw the balls because it is a cheap way of having some fun and at the same time giving the girls a little something monetarily, simply because they get commission from each ball collected. Other guys seem to get a kick out of watching the girls scramble for the ping pong balls whilst other guys like to use the balls simply as entertainment. Many times when I worked in Lollipop we would have ping pong fights across the bar or roll the balls down the street then sit back and watch the door girls chase them down Fields Avenue. For me the ping pong balls are harmless fun and just another money spinner for the girls and the bars. These days the ping pong balls have become part and parcel of the AC bar scene and vary from small buckets of ten balls which cost 300 piso through to giant nets of balls suspended above the girls which can cost up to 1000 piso.
I have often rung bells both in my own bars and other peoples bars and most of the time have never stopped to analyze my behavior, all I knew was at the time I thought it was something I should do and it felt good even though I realized it was at the end of the day a waste of money. The bells come in many shapes and sizes and are often not even bells at all in fact some bars have air horns and others have gongs which customers bang with a special gong ringer.
As it turns out I am not the only one with a tendency to ring bells and in fact the very man who was so adamant about not understanding why people would ring bells, Mr Shagger, is in fact half of the bell ringing team that still holds the record for the most bell rings in Bedrock Bars history that being 34 bell rings in one night. No doubt Shagger is still asking himself why did I waste all that money but I hope maybe he has a better idea after reading this article.