Drink

This Secret Nightcap of Beats and Booze Ends Before Midnight

Because we all have work the next morning.
IMAGE Facebook - Echoes PH
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What happens before midnight? We can't answer for everyone, but Before Midnight has booze, baos, and beats. 

Organized by videographer Michael Lorenzana and Kwago, the independent book bar that operates in Warehouse Eight, the event can be described as a monthly clandestine collective or a nightcap that lasts up to, well, before midnight. Think Sofar Sounds minus the surprise location and with surprisingly great food.

Before Midnight began as a showcase of up-and-coming musical talents set in an intimate space where people don’t have to shout in each other’s ear to be heard. “We were looking for a space where we could listen to live gigs that didn’t start and end too late because we knew we had to get up early the next day,” says Kayla Dionsio, co-owner of Warehouse Eight. “We wanted a respite that was not intimidating and felt like it was as comfortable as a friend’s home.”

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IMAGE: Facebook - Echoes PH

“In the end, we just wanted to be able to allow people to be themselves while meeting new people, just like what the sign at Kwago’s entrance says: come as you are,” adds Lorenzana.

Before Midnight is also for people who want to know more about Filipino culture as a whole, not just about what’s happening in the music scene.

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“An attending guest who has been based in Philippines for less than a year said that it was the closest she’s felt to Filipino culture so far,” says Dionisio. “This made us want to refine Before Midnight in 2019, making it a platform for discovery of the creative culture and community here in Philippines, whether it's food, music, drinks, or the people that bring it life.”

Its relaunch on January 23 was a testament to the constant experimentation that comes with fostering creative spaces in the city. While the music remains an intrinsic part of the experience, food and drink are new to the current version of the event. The most recent installment featured performances by Peaceful Gemini and Sasaya PH and food from Cheech and Chang HK Roasts.

Everyone knows the best place at any party is right by where the food is, and that night was no exception. Miguel Munnariz of Cheech and Chang waxed poetic about the process of roasting duck, finding the perfect recipe for fried chicken, and which sauces are best with a Hainanese chicken bowl (aka all of them, if you like it spicy). “I tested around 500 bao recipes before settling on this one. Imagine all those wasted baos!” he says. These are the kinds of conversations that happen at Before Midnight.

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Because there are 20 people crammed into a tiny pantry-slash-waiting area, these conversations will come up at one point or another. Some squishing and ‘excuse me’-ing will inevitably occur in such a small space, but there’s something to be said about forced closeness that fosters intimacy. 

IMAGE: Facebook - Echoes PH
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If the lack of space isn’t enough for you to start gabbing with a stranger, the time-honored tradition of roving shots will. Is this alcoholism in disguise? Perhaps, but the spilled tequila shots and cozy conversations have become symbols of the event.

Although Lorenzana says his dream is to have bigger names such Ben&Ben, Bullet Dumas, or even Up Dharma Down to perform, Before Midnight wasn’t made to be a huge event. The minute you increase the crowd size and corner the musicians into some backstage area is the minute it becomes just another music gig in Makati.

"Each Before Midnight is unique on its own, but what we make sure is that it always has that intimate vibe,” he says.

Online sign-ups, which open two weeks before each event, offer only 25 slots, making the pilgrimage to Warehouse Eight on Chino Roces all the more thrilling.

Tickets, priced at P1,750, come with a special dinner, surprise gigs, unlimited beer, tequila, two fiction-inspired cocktails, and a lot of good time. The next Before Midnight event takes place on February 20.

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Gaby Flores
Gaby Flores is a contributing writer for Esquire. She likes postcolonial literature and spicy food.
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