The Gay Zeedijk

The Gay Zeedijk

The Zeedijk is not only the core of Amsterdam’s China Town. Some call it ironically “gaydijk”. That says it all.

Amsterdam’s China Town is well known

for its impressive offer of exotic eateries and for being home to an incredibly

beautiful Buddhist temple, but its fame is also given by the presence, in the

suggestive Zeedijk, of a number of gay and gay-friendly venues.


time I go to the Zeedijk, I strangely feel like living in one of those old

French songs all about drunk sailors and sensual women hanging out in some

grubby bars. But despite my shady flights of fancy, this area of the city seems

like suspended in a pre-Weimar time.


“Sea dike” used to be the outer perimeter of Amsterdam, overlooking the old

harbor and giving access to the northern side of the De Wallen neighborhood,

the actual Red Light District.


many years it has been considered a place to wisely avoid due to the high rate

of criminality and the presence of drug addicts, but a decisive revitalization

of the whole area has finally put the Zeedijk in a different, brighter light.


large section of the street is home to an interesting number of bars and pubs

open to gay and straight persons, making it an ideal alternative to the more

fashionable (and probably, touristic) Reguliersdwarstraat.


is a complete list of those gay bars that adorn, with that peculiar pinch of

evocative charm and their rainbow flags, a portion of the historical China

Town’s arterial street.

Café ‘t Mandje (

Fun and respect since 1927: few words

to efficiently describe this wonderful venue’s vocation. The historical

nucleus, the heart of the gay Zeedijk, ‘t Mandje (literally, “the little

basket”) opened its door in those years when homosexuality was a

contradictorily tolerated taboo. Founded by Bet van Beeren, an openly gay

woman, the bar existed until 1982, when Bet’s sister Greet decided to quit the

business that she had held for more than 20 years.


2008 the bar reopened under Greet’s niece guidance and ever since it boasts its

original, cheerful and vibrant old fashion spirit.


owners are extremely proud of the bar’s history and their efforts in keeping it

alive are well repaid by the love that many gay and straight locals devotedly

show every night of the week.

And if

you enjoy singing out loud, ‘t Mandje holds periodically an unusual, drunk

karaoke evening. You can’t miss that.

De Engel van



). The

Angel of Amsterdam is a cosy little bar with a magnificent terrace

overlooking a small portion of the Oudezijds Kolk. Despite the neglected

website, hardly mentioning the venue’s address and displaying a couple of

questionable quality pictures, this place is totally worth a visit. And it

doesn’t matter how shy you are, you will surely go back home with a couple of

new contacts in your pocket.


staff and crowd welcome mainly daddies, bears and leather enthusiasts, but

youngsters that sporadically enter the bar are also well accepted.

Queen’s Head


). This place is insanely fun. Check

out the agenda reported on the website: a good rotation of resident DJs

entertaining a crazy mixed crowd almost every evening, and bear-oriented

parties dedicated to the lovers of those fluffy, cuddling situations. And then

there is the hysterical bingo night hosted by crazy diva Coby.

Have I

mentioned the interiors yet?

Regal is

probably the right word to describe them.

De Barderij (

The owners call this place

“hetero-friendly”, laying claim to their efforts in creating a pure camp

atmosphere. The venue is what I would call a “typical Dutch pub”, oozing

coziness and cheerfulness throughout, without mentioning the awesome vista on

the main waterway that crosses the Red Light District in its whole length.


far from the Barderij, the

Lime Bar

opens its doors to an assorted, heterogeneous clique. The minimalistic

atmosphere makes it the ideal place to start your weekend evenings, eventually

sipping some exquisite cocktail.

The gay area of the Zeedijk offers a diverse multitude

of gay-friendly venues and restaurant, such as the

Little Thai Prince,

Ton van

Joep and the

Casablanca, homely

exotic eateries that will surely make your night get the right going.