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 (cafetmandje.nl).
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.
you enjoy singing out loud, ‘t Mandje holds periodically an unusual, drunk
karaoke evening. You can’t miss that.
De Engel van
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.
). 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.
mentioned the interiors yet?
probably the right word to describe them.
De Barderij (www.barderij.com).
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
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,
Joep and the
exotic eateries that will surely make your night get the right going.