Enough about museums, canals,
boat-trips and parks. It’s getting dark and it’s time for some drinks and 4/4
beats. Put on your heels and dive into Amsterdam’s fervent nightlife. The
Reguliersdwarsstraat is the heart of the Dutch GLBT community, with an enviable
history of its very own.
IT… If you were a club kid, a voguing
queen, a party animal and you are now over 40, you will probably feel a little
teardrop rolling down your cheek while reading the names of such infamous,
crazy, flickering and flamboyant venues.
has been considered for many years the place to be, at least for once in your
lifetime, if you were gay and wanted to celebrate your pride candidly: no
social chains, no cultural divergences, no racial conflicts. All equal, all
different. It was all about music and being there.
have changed, a lot, I must say, and Amsterdam no longer boasts the glory it
used to back in those
days, but it is a fact that the Dutch capital will always remain the favorite
destination for many gay people around the globe. After all, the first bars
for men only were opened here in the 20’s
of the past century (one day I will write a few words about ‘t Mandje, a jewel
treasured in the Zeedijk) and the aforementioned McDonald (nothing to do with
the famous fast-food chain, obviously!) saw the light in 1963.
a big thing compared to most of the other countries of good old Europe.
is left now of that past is probably hard to find in the hip bars, the
expensive restaurants and the fashionable clubs in town. In a time where every
single person is searching for those ephemeral moments of fame and glory, the
mainstream has taken over the streets overlooking the romantic canals and the
bizarre debauchery has turned into glamorous morality.
street among all has always been
gay street of Amsterdam: the almost impossible to pronounce
Reguliersdwarsstraat, meaning “the
street that lies transverse to the Regulier”, the latter an old, long avenue of
the city centre (1586 circa).
street hit the fame of gay area in the 80’s, the very first in Europe, hosting
an unbelievable number of discos, many of them owned by tycoon Sjoerd Kooistra,
who committed suicide in 2010 after a conflict with Heineken brewery, a gloomy
occurrence that put Amsterdam’s craziest nightlife to a long, uncertain
deadlock. The Exit disco, the art-deco Café April, the ARC and the amazing Pub
Soho had to close for undetermined time.
business men reopened some of the venues keeping their old illustrious names,
such as the Soho or the Havana, and other went completely renovated and named
differently: the Café April became Ludwig II and the ARC was baptized anew as
is the year of the new bars, open to gay and straight people sharing their
passion for music, drinks and fashion. The
Downtown, for example,
is a cheerful little restaurant where contemporary Dutch artists can display
their works. Food and art is a great combination, no doubt about it, and in the
summer the restaurant boasts an amazing terrace. A similar concept applies for
House of Rising
over two floors, the
Taboo Bar (www.taboobar.nl)
is also a crazy, constantly busy, little venue. And if you like 80’s and
electro music with a “
bit of an attitude”,
you will probably enjoy this coffee-shop a lot.
Exit Après Chique Café
is for the cocktails enthusiasts and is the only bar open until late at night. No
seatings and good house music, but expect to find a pretty hectic crowd of
youngsters. The bar is now part of the
Nyx (http://clubnyx.nl), one of the coolest discos in the street, which
will also deserve a post of its own.
Pub Soho (www.facebook.com/SoHoAdam).
No longer what it used to be in the past, the Soho remains, anyhow, one of the
biggest gay bars of the capital, according to www.reguliers.net
clientele is definitely hip and young and many tourists love to hang out and
drink a good beer here. It is totally worth a visit, at least for the fame it’s
been oozing, not without ups and downs, since 1999. Surely the staff is kind
and professional. And good-looking is also an important requisite.
remember one of my first days in Amsterdam. My partner took me to see a Drag
Queen race on ice (!) held in the Reguliersdwarsstraat. The vibes were
incredible, amazing, I probably never felt so much joy and freedom.
During the show, a girl
offered me a beer and smiled, ironically: “welcome to Holland!”